SS Lesson for 03/04/2018
Devotional Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34
The lesson reviews how Abraham responded to his son about the sacrificial lamb that The Lord Will Provide. The study's aim is to teach us to shape our thinking and reactions to life’s circumstances in relation to God. The study's application is to make it a habit of life and thought to watch for the God’s provision in everything.
(Adapted from the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary)
And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.
22:1-2. The greatest test in the life of Abraham (God tested him) came after he received the promised seed following a long wait. The test was very real: he was to give Isaac back to God. As a test it was designed to prove faith. And for it to be a real test, it had to defy logic; it had to be something Abraham wanted to resist. God had told the patriarch to send Ishmael away (21:12-13), and now He told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had willingly sent Ishmael away, but he would not want to kill Isaac. It is one thing to claim to trust God’s word when waiting for something; it is quite another thing to trust and obey His word after it is received. This was a test of how much Abraham would obey God’s word. Would he cling to the boy now that he had him, or would he still obey and return him to the Lord? In other words how far would Abraham go in obedience? Did he really believe that God would still keep His word and raise the seed of promise? There are obvious connections with God’s earlier words to Abraham to get out and go to the land God would show him (12:1-3). But in this subtle reminder of the original call God also reminded him of the fulfillment, which made the test so hard: Take your son, your only son Isaac [“laughter”] whom you love (22:2). The command to sacrifice his own son as a burnt offering would have undoubtedly seemed totally unreasonable (even though child sacrifice was known in Canaan). How then could God fulfill the promises He made earlier (12:1-3), to say nothing of Abraham’s emotional loss of his only son, born to him so late in life?
22:3-8. Abraham’s response was staggering—he gave instant, unquestioning obedience. He even got an early start! However, the three-day journey (v. 4) was probably silent and difficult. The distance from Beersheba to Mount Moriah was about 50 miles. When he saw the place in the region of Moriah (v. 2; later the temple mount; 2 Chron. 3:1) he took only Isaac and had the two servants stay behind. His statement, We will worship and then we will come back (Gen. 22:5), is amazing. All Abraham knew was that (a) God planned the future around Isaac, and (b) God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac. He could not reconcile the two, but he would obey anyway. That is faith. In response to Isaac’s question Where is the lamb? Abraham again revealed his faith: God Himself will provide (v. 8; cf. v. 14). Isaac was brought “from the dead” twice—once from Sarah’s dead womb, and again from a high altar (cf. Heb. 11:17-19).
22:9-14. God’s intervention—so dramatic and instructive—showed that He never had intended Abraham to go through with the sacrifice (child sacrifice was not to be practiced in Israel) but that it indeed was a test. The Angel of the Lord (cf. 16:7) stopped Abraham just as the patriarch took in his hand the knife to slay Isaac! Now God knew that Abraham would hold nothing back and that he did in fact fear God. To fear God means to reverence Him as sovereign, trust Him implicitly, and obey Him without question. A true worshiper of God holds nothing back from God but obediently gives Him what He asks, trusting that He will provide. The key idea of the entire passage is summarized in the name Abraham gave to the place: Yahweh Yirʾeh, The Lord will provide (or, “see”; v. 14). The explanation is, On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided (or, “seen,” yērāʾeh, v. 14; cf. v. 8). This is the basis of a truth often repeated in the Old Testament: the Lord was to be worshiped in His holy mountain by the nation. “Three times a year all the men [of Israel] are to appear [yērāʾeh, ‘be seen’] before the Sovereign Lord” to worship Him, bringing their offerings and sacrifices (Ex. 23:17; cf. Deut. 16:16). The Lord would see (rāʾâh) the needs of those who came before Him, and would meet their needs. Thus in providing for them He would be “seen.” In naming the place Abraham of course was commemorating his own experience of sacrifice to the Lord. But an animal (a ram—not a lamb; cf. Gen. 22:8—caught... its horns in a thornbush) was provided by God’s grace as a substitute for the lad in the offering (v. 13). Later all Israel would offer animals to the Lord. Worship involved accepting God’s sacrificial substitute. But of course in the New Testament God substituted His only Son for the animal, and the perfect Sacrifice was made. John certainly had this in mind when he introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Yet the main point of Genesis 22:9-14 is not the doctrine of the Atonement. It is portraying an obedient servant worshiping God in faith at great cost, and in the end receiving God’s provision. Abraham did not withhold his son. Similarly Paul wrote that God “did not spare [epheisato] His own Son, but gave [delivered] Him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32). A form of the same Greek word is used of Abraham in the Septuagint: “Thou hast not spared [epheisō] thy beloved son” (Gen. 22:12). This reveals the greatness of Abraham’s faith; he was willing to obey God by sacrificing his son. It also reveals the greatness of Isaac’s faith in submission; he had everything in the world to live for but willingly followed his father’s words, believing that God would provide a lamb.
22:15-19. God again confirmed His covenant with Abraham (cf. 15:5, 18-21; 17:3-8). His descendants would be numerous like the stars (cf. 15:5; 26:4), like the sand on the seashore (cf. 32:12), and “like the dust of the earth” (cf. 13:16; 28:14). God then added another element: Abraham’s descendants would be victorious over the cities of their Canaanite enemies. This was done by Joshua in the Conquest. The lessons about true worship are timeless: (1) Faith obeys completely the Word of God. (2) Faith surrenders the best to God, holding nothing back. (3) Faith waits on the Lord to provide all one’s needs. But God does not provide until personal sacrifice has been made. True worship is costly. This was always so for Israel when they brought sacrifices. Those offerings were supposed to be given in faith so God would provide all the needs of each willing worshiper.
When we read of the ultimate test that God put His servant Abraham through, we feel both dismay and admiration. We cringe at the thought that God might put us through a similar trial, but we admire the great faith that Abraham showed throughout his. Nowhere does his faith shine more brightly than in the statement recorded in our text. Short of when he had to actually take knife in hand (Gen. 22:10), this was possibly the most painful moment in Abraham's ordeal. Isaac knew that they were on their way to offer a special sacrifice to the Lord. He may have only now worked up the courage to ask about the lack of a sacrificial animal (vs. 7). Abraham had undoubtedly been dreading the moment when Isaac would find out that he was to be the sacrifice, and quite naturally would have put off disclosing that fact. His answer may sound evasive to us, but in reality it demonstrates the great faith that he was exercising. Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us that Abraham acted in faith when he set out to obey God's command to offer up his son. He believed that God would keep His promise regarding the blessing through Isaac and would, if necessary, even raise him from the dead. This faith was seen earlier in Abraham's instructions to the servants to remain at the foot of the mountain: "I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you" (Gen. 22:5). Abraham voiced the same faith in his answer to Isaac, stating it in different terms: "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." It is true that when Isaac was laid bound on the altar, he would have thought he was the provided lamb and may have considered the answer disingenuous. But Abraham was not merely putting him off. From the other statements in this passage and in Hebrews, we must assume that he genuinely believed the assurance he gave his son. Of course, Abraham did not know the actual outcome in advance. He could not have known about the ram (Gen. 22:13). He did not know that the Lord was merely testing him. But he knew that God would ultimately provide, no matter what the two of them might have to go through. But we cannot read this text without realizing that Abraham spoke truly of a far greater provision than he knew—or could have known even after the provision of the substitute for Isaac. When we read "God will provide himself a lamb," we encounter one of the earliest and clearest foreshadowings in all the Old Testament of the greater Sacrifice to come. God, who spared Abraham from going through with this most difficult test, did not spare Himself from putting His own Son through the full measure of grief. "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" (Rom. 8:32). God provided a Lamb, and it was costlier to Him than any cost He has ever asked any of His servants—or any human being anywhere—to bear. Isaac was spared through the substitution of a ram; we have been saved eternally through the substitution of the Lamb of God.
Most people don’t know what to make of the wars of the Old Testament. People frequently ask me how God’s people can go from killing tens of thousands of people in the Old Testament to loving and evangelizing all people in the New Testament. Part of my response is to remind people that God does more of the fighting in the Old Testament than do his people. Lately, however, I am beginning to hear a common response to that statement. People often reply, “I am sure that the Israelites believed that God was fighting for them, but all ancient peoples believed that. Why should we think that God’s people were any different?” This is a great question, and the Bible has a great answer. What other nation had no standing army? What other nation spurned strategic military alliances? What other nation refused to acquire the latest military technology from Egypt (chariots and horses)? The Israelites took none of these items into battle when they took possession of the promised land under the leadership of Joshua. It is one thing for a nation to claim that God fights for them, but quite another to make zero provisions for national security. It is true that many ancient nations claimed that their gods fought for them. But only Israel dared to march around an enemy city multiple times, blow trumpets, shout loudly, and wait for the walls to collapse. It is one thing to say that we trust God, but another thing to place our own future completely in God’s hands. In today’s passage, Abraham is given an opportunity to do this. Because he rose to the occasion, he is a model of faith for us all.
While the Scriptures recognize Abraham as a man of faith (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:16-22; Galatians 3:6-9; Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19), his was by no means a perfect faith. He demonstrated great faith in leaving his home in Ur (Genesis 12:1-4). But by the end of the same chapter, he was telling his wife, Sarah, to lie and say she was his sister in order to save his own skin (12:10-20). Later when Sarah failed to conceive, Abraham impregnated her maidservant Hagar rather than seek the Lord’s will. This created serious tension in Abraham’s household (Genesis 16:1-6). After God made clear that Sarah would give him a son, Abraham handed her over to a pagan king (20:1-18), failing once again to trust God. Despite all this, God remained faithful to Abraham and Sarah. He delivered them from several powerful kings. He watched over the circumstances involving Lot, Hagar, and Ishmael (Hagar’s son). And God provided the son of promise for whom Abraham and Sarah had been waiting: Isaac. Still, by the time we get to Genesis 22, we are left wondering whether God would grow impatient. Abraham was a man of spiritual highs and lows. His faith was strong, but inconsistent. The reader is left wondering who the real Abraham is. Perhaps Abraham was wondering the same thing. Was he still the man of great faith who left Ur behind to go to an unknown land? Or had years of wandering taken their toll on his faith?
1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.
But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." 32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."
6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." 23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." 24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. 18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. 23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. 24 The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.
7 "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? 8 Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? 9 Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"
21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. 6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness";
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am."
12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. 17God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this `coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." 36The LORD will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free.
13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The Lord it shall be provided."
wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Regardless of the struggles which are not reported, Abraham arose early to begin the longest journey of his life:
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him (Genesis 22:3).
I have said previously that while the early hour may reflect the resolve of Abraham to do God’s will, it may contain some human factors also. First, I would imagine that sleep completely evaded Abraham on that night, especially after God had clearly commanded the sacrifice of Isaac. Some people rise early because all hope of sleep is gone. Then, too, I would not have wanted to face Sarah with my plans for the coming days. While Abraham was resigned to do God’s will, Sarah is not informed of this test (at least so far as the Scriptures record).
After a heart-breaking three-day journey the mountain of sacrifice was in view. At this point Abraham left his servants behind and went on alone with Isaac:
And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together (Genesis 22:5-6).
In the midst of great anguish of soul there is a beautiful expression of hope and faith in verse 5:
“Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (NIV; emphasis added).
I do not believe these words were idly spoken but that they reflected a deep inner trust in God and His promises. The God Who had commanded the sacrifice of Isaac had also promised to produce a nation through him (17:15-19; 21:12).
As the two went on alone climbing the mountain to the place of sacrifice, Isaac put a question to his father which must have broken his heart: “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (verse 7)
The answer was painfully evident to Abraham, and yet there is in his answer not only a deliberate vagueness but also an element of hope: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (verse 8).
At every step Abraham must have hoped for some change of plans, some alternative course of action. The place was reached, the altar built, and the wood arranged. At last there was nothing left but to bind Isaac and place him upon the wood and plunge the knife into his heart.
Only when the knife was lifted high, glistening in the sun, did God restrain Abraham from offering up his son:
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:11-12).
At the point of death it was evident that Abraham was willing to forsake all, even his son, his only son, for God. While God knew the heart of Abraham, Abraham’s reverence was now evident from experiential knowledge.
Also at the point of total obedience came the provision of God. God did not halt the act of sacrifice; He provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac:
Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son (verse 13).
From this experience it was seen that Abraham’s faith that God would provide a sacrificial offering (verse 8) was honored and that God does indeed provide:
And Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided” (verse 14).
(Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/23-final-exams-genesis-221-24)
God kept his promise to Abraham and made him into a great nation. But that promise has now been superseded by the gospel of Jesus Christ. God no longer has to fight wars for his people to possess and protect a special promised territory. All territories are special to him. Yet God’s people are still in a real fight. Various powers, both human and supernatural, wage war against us. They tempt us to compromise our faith. They invite us to trust in our own strength. Like Abraham, we must trust God and God alone to provide for all our needs. We must live in light of his promises to us. We must go into battle equipped with his armor (Ephesians 6:10-18). Through him we will indeed triumph!
1. God expects us to listen for His voice and respond to His call (Gen. 22:1-2)
2. Following God's instructions requires planning and preparation (vss. 3-5)
3. Faith gives you the courage to obey God and trust that He will provide (vss. 6-8)
4. Faithful, service to God requires willingness to make a sacrifice (vss. 9-10)
5. God provides what we need to carry out His plan (vss. 11-13)
6. We should always acknowledge God as our Provider and praise Him (vs. 14)