THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
A life of faith is accompanied by testing and trials. For Abraham, the journey of faith has taken him from his home, through years of waiting, and away from his surrogate wife and son. Time has passed, but surely Abraham remembers the day that he sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Perhaps there are days when his mind drifts to them, and he ponders their well-being. However, as difficult as the journey had been thus far, nothing could prepare him for the test that God was preparing. It is important to remember that when God tests his own, it is for their benefit. The enemy's schemes are only meant for destruction. Abraham has been on the journey of faith for many years, and when the Lord speaks to Abraham, he answers. The word that he receives from the Lord must have been both distressing and painful. Abraham was to take his only son Isaac whom he loved and offer him as a sacrifice. Isaac was not his only son, but he was the only son of the promise and the true heir. Abraham receives instructions similar to where his journey started, going to a place that God would show him.
Abraham wastes no time in making the necessary preparations for their trip. Early in the morning this man that is well over a hundred years old saddles his donkey, chops wood, organizes his servants and gets his son. The expedition begins and the contingent heads in the direction of a destination not yet specified. On the third day, God shows Abraham the place. Abraham instructs the servants to wait with the donkey, and he makes an astounding statement. He tells the servants that he and Isaac are gong to worship and then they would return. How could they return when one of them was to be offered as a sacrifice? The story continues, and the tension is mounting. It is important to note some things about Isaac during this account as well. Isaac went with his father to worship, and the questions that he asks indicate that this was not the first time that they had worshiped together. Isaac is carrying the wood, and his father has the knife and the fire. When Isaac speaks to his father, it is respectful and inquisitive. He is acquainted with worship through sacrifice, and so he is concerned that they are missing an essential component. Where is the lamb? Abraham reassures his son and perhaps himself as he declares that God would provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering. This answer seems to satisfy Isaac who believes his father and trusts the Lord.
Abraham and Isaac arrive at their destination and Abraham begins to make the necessary preparations for worship. Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood for the sacrifice. At some point, there is a conversation that we are not privy to that takes place. What was the discussion like when Abraham announced to his son that he was the sacrifice? The results speak to the faith that Abraham had passed to his son. How does a man well over a hundred years old bind a man that is in his prime and strong enough to bear the wood and journey up a mountain? The answer can only be that he too believed God and exercised faith. The son of promise willingly submits to his father and will die if that is what his father commands. Abraham took the knife and was about to slaughter his son when the angel called to him and commanded him to stop. What was Abraham thinking during these proceedings? Is one left only to speculate? No Hebrews tells us what was happening, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Hebrews 11:17–19, ESV) The Lord calls to Abraham again, and he answers. God did not want Isaac's life; he wanted Abraham's heart, and this act of faith showed that Abraham worshiped God and not his gift, Isaac. Abraham looks and he sees a ram caught in a thicket. This substitute gave its life in place of Isaac, and Abraham called that place, "The Lord will provide."
A Second Time
The angel of the Lord calls to Abraham a second time from heaven and renews the covenant. There are some new details included, and God binds himself to the words he speaks. He would bless Abraham and multiply his offspring like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. His children would be victorious over their enemies.All the nations of the earth would be blessed because of Abraham's obedience. Abraham returned to his servants and lived in Beersheba. Abraham learns that his brother Nahor had a wife (Milcah) and a concubine (Reumah). Abraham also learns that Nahor’s son Bethuel had a daughter named Rebekah which may have caused him to think about trying to secure a wife for Isaac from among his kinsman.
Things To Consider:
- What are some of the ways people respond to God's testing?
- Why does God test us?
- Are you facing a test? If so, how are you responding?
- Are disobeying by delaying your obedience in any way?
- How does faith benefit from time?
- What can we learn about family worship?
- How does God direct us today?
- How do we see the gospel in this story?
- How has God provided for you?
- How does Isaac foreshadow Jesus?
- How is Jesus our substitute?
- Is there any gift that God has given you that has become an idol?
- How can relationships rob God of worship?
- Why does God reward faith?