Week of Dec. 18: Trust in the Lord and He will provide
By the Rev. Sam and Helen Rogers
Scripture: Genesis 22:1-2, 6-14
Background Scripture: Genesis 22-1-14
As the biblical story of Abraham’s faith journey continues, the reader must adapt to the passing of time—in this instance a lot of time! The promised heir has been born and has grown into at least a strapping teenager, if not a man. He’s not just a small child. (Hebrew tradition says Isaac was 37.) The hopes of the promise God has made to Abraham are suddenly interrupted with a startling message from God. With precise instructions, Abraham is to take Isaac with all the necessary supplies, except one crucial ingredient, for a sacrificial offering to God. That offering is to be his son, who was to be the agent of fulfillment of God’s promise of descendants.
The account is couched in the setting of a test. Humans do not like tests! School tests, medical tests, financial tests for a loan—we think all tests are bad things. And this test is a horrible thought. To sacrifice a human being is barbaric and pagan. To sacrifice your own son is unthinkable! Yet that is not only what Abraham thought, but what God seems to require. And faith-filled Abraham obeys to the letter. The conversation he has with Isaac is gut-wrenching! “Where is the lamb?” asks the boy. Is the answer of Abraham disingenuous or another of his wonderful affirmations of faith?
There are times in our lives when we are confronted with unimaginable choices. In the book “The Help,” one of the maids has twin boys and can see no way to send both to college. Or there is the report of the small child who is asked to give blood to save her brother’s life and believes by so doing, she will die. Remember the O. Henry story of “The Gift of the Magi?” Della and Jim each had a precious possession. Della had beautiful long hair, and Jim had an heirloom golden watch. It was Christmastime and each wanted to show their love for the other by giving a special gift. Della had her beautiful hair cut to sell so she could buy a golden watch fob and chain for Jim. And yes, Jim sold his watch to buy a beautiful set of hair combs!
But all choices are not matters of life and death, and we humans often forget God may be part of the answer. There are couples who hear God’s call and change vocations to follow God’s leading. Sometimes they have to go back to school. Many times they must raise their own funds to do the ministry God has called them to do. Their children are taken into difficult environments that penalize their chance at a decent education. Following God’s leading is never easy.
What do you think were some of the thoughts Abraham was having as he and Isaac climbed Moriah? Certainly, Abraham was struggling with his choice.
And let’s not forget Isaac. He could have fought his father. He was young and strong. Abraham is now much older and weaker. But he is able to bind Isaac and lay him on the altar with the knife poised over him. It is only with Isaac’s cooperation that Abraham is able to fulfill God’s command.
When Isaac asks “Where is the lamb?” we enter into the heart of the biblical story. Abraham’s answer can be taken two ways, and there is meaning in both. First and pertinent to this lesson’s focus, his answer is a statement of trust, affirming somehow God will provide the physical sacrificial lamb (what indeed happens). Secondly, some scholars point out the reply Abraham makes means God indeed is providing the sacrifice—Isaac himself. Isaac becomes a foreshadowing of Jesus. We are able to deal with the tests of our lives like Abraham, not solely by our own strength and faith, but, because in God’s providence and perfect timing, there is another Son of promise. There is the willingness of the Son to be sacrificed. There is the necessity for the Son to carry the wood for the sacrifice. There is the anguish of the Father to put his Son’s life in jeopardy and mortal pain. This Son climbed Mount Moriah too, but this time God did not intercede and spare this Son—his only Son, whom God loved. On Golgotha atop Mount Moriah this perfect lamb without spot or blemish shed His blood to take away the sins of the world. What happened on Moriah between Abraham and Isaac and God revealed God’s ultimate plan for the redemption of the world. This insight will stretch your mind and your faith – it plumbs the depth of God’s heart and intent.
God needed a people of faith to carry the message forward. The family began with Abraham, and that family has been a blessing to all the nations. Christians today are a continuation of Abraham’s family. That family continues to trust and obey the God who keeps his promises and provides all that is needed to live in faithfulness. Morever, this family of faith knows God is love and loving God with all the heart, mind, soul and strength is the only way to continue to fulfill the eternal purpose of this God “who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
Helen and Rev. Sam Rogers are a retired clergy couple. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.