By Brooke Holt
"And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am my son.’ And he said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’” Genesis 22:7-8a
For twenty-five years, Abraham and Sarah dreamt of holding a son. God had promised them this beloved child, but twenty-five years is a very, very long time to wait, especially for people well beyond their child-bearing years. Yet, God kept his promise, and Sarah and Abraham knew the joy of parenthood. Sometimes waiting makes the fulfillment that much richer. Isaac was the joy of their lives which makes this passage even more confusing!
As we read today, God came to Abraham with clear but disturbing instructions: “Take 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” (Genesis 22:2). Notice God does not offer Abraham an explanation for this edict. He simply gives Abraham a command.
To Abraham’s credit, he obeyed. In fact, the text indicates he obeyed immediately. He set out the next morning, according to the words of the Lord. He didn’t wait until he figured out why God was telling him to do this; he didn’t question or bargain; Abraham took his son, a couple of his men, and the supplies for the offering and went.
Just imagine the inner turmoil Abraham experienced with each step that brought them closer to the mountain. Once again, Abraham was walking by faith with no assurance of outcomes. Abraham only knew God had been faithful. Surely, he would remain true to his word: “I will establish my covenant with Isaac as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him” (Genesis 17:19). If Isaac was sacrificed, how was he to bear that offspring? Abraham must have questioned God’s plan in his mind and heart even as his feet faithfully moved in accordance with God’s instructions.
Isaac walked towards the mountain knowing they would make a sacrifice there. He had no idea what Abraham was facing as they travelled. Thus, Isaac rightly inquired about the lamb for the offering, and Abraham expressed his trust in the Lord to provide.
Without seeing God’s provision yet, Abraham laid Isaac on the altar and lifted his knife to make the appointed sacrifice. Seeing Abraham’s faithfulness, God intervened and did just as Abraham had said – he provided. As Abraham looked up, a ram stood caught in the thicket.
Sometimes, God asks his followers to offer up the things they hold most dear. It feels confusing and disruptive, yet God is faithful. Maybe he is asking you to give up a habit, a relationship, or golf on Sunday mornings so that you can worship with fellow believers. The Lord wants to be at the center of your life. Anything contending for that space may need to be sacrificed. Thankfully, he will provide what you need exactly when you need it.
Has God ever asked you to sacrifice something in your life? How have you responded? Trusting God is not easy, but you will find him faithful. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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