Genesis 22:1-8 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, 7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
Wow. Can you believe it? After waiting all those years for the son of his dreams Abraham finds himself on the road to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. I am struck by how calm and focused Abraham was. He doesn’t scream out in horror or even ask GOD why? What amazing absolute faith. Abraham had to know two things to react the way he did to this command from GOD. First, he had to know GOD was GOD, the creator and ruler of all. Second, he had to know and trust that GOD was not evil, but just the opposite. Knowing that GOD was GOD and that GOD loved him and his son I believe is the reason Abraham methodically obeyed, seemingly without a second thought. It is no coincidence that GOD made this exact ultimate sacrifice of HIS SON out of love for us.
The final sentence in this passage is the key to understanding it. “GOD will provide…” That was my grandmother’s favorite saying whenever there was trouble of the kind that seemed insurmountable or without reason. It would be years after she was gone that I would make the connection to this passage. It also reminds me of a story my Dad used to tell. Growing up in Louisiana he and his older brother and several friends loved to fish. They fished a lot like the disciples did. They would go out in a boat and cast nets in the little river near where they lived. The river was deep, but shallow enough in places to allow them to occasionally tie off their nets to stakes driven into the lake bed and return later to harvest their catch.
This was the case on a day when it did not seem like the fish were biting. The nets were tied off and the young men took the small canoe like boat back to shore. My Dad said that for whatever reason on this particular day they were delayed in returning and it was nearly dark when they made it back to the river. As a precaution, since it would be well after dark by the time they returned, the older boys made my Dad stay ashore on the rickety old dock with an old cold oil lantern to act as a kind of lighthouse for them.
He was the youngest and he sort of resented being left behind. He lit the lantern as he had been instructed and sat it on the edge of the dock along with a box of matches. Dad said he hadn’t realized how dark it had gotten until a sudden gust of wind blew out the flame and blew the box of matches into the water. In an instant it was pitch dark and the matches were gone in the current. Not only was it dark but fog was starting to roll in. He searched his pockets for a stray match but nothing. They had been out there a long time and he had an uneasy feeling, a feeling that something was wrong. What should he do? The thought struck him that maybe he should try to swim out and look for them, he could find his way back. But as he thought about this he caught a faint glimpse of his reflection in the water and he heard in his mind a portion of an old hymn “…The arm of flesh will fail you; you dare not trust your own.” He got up on his knees, bowed his head and prayed. Then he searched his pockets again this time finding in the crease of one of those pockets the head of a match, just enough for him to relight the lantern. Almost as soon he got it going he heard the calls and yells from his brother and friends. Their boat had capsized and they had been clinging to it in the freezing water in shock with no clue of the direction of the shore until they saw the light.
HEAVENLY FATHER, who is like YOU! Be it a sheep for sacrifice or the head of match in the pocket of a frightened youth, YOU always provide! Remind us this day that we need not worry or fear for we indeed have a FATHER who loves us enough to put us to the test. Grant us the faith LORD to know what Abraham knew and the courage to live like it. In CHRIST name we pray. Amen