Eternity Daily Bible Study

The Life Of Abraham


Number: 576

Verses:  Genesis 22:9-14

Topic:  The Lord Provides

Date:   13th April 2006

 

Genesis 22:9-14 HCSB When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood.  (10)  Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.  (11)  But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" He replied, "Here I am."  (12)  Then He said, "Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me."  (13)  Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.  (14)  And Abraham named that place The LORD Will Provide, so today it is said: "It will be provided on the LORD's mountain."

 

God provides a ram, often called “the ram of pride” as a sacrifice instead of Isaac. God is merciful, kind and good and does not demand human sacrifice! But He was testing Abraham to see if he truly 'feared God', and when the test is completed then great blessing flowed as we will see later in this chapter.

 

God provided in response to complete and prompt and faithful obedience. He provided for Abraham because Abraham was totally His:  Matthew 6:33 HCSB But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

 

God's provision is most clearly seen among those who faithfully serve Him, doing God's will in God's way. Or as the missionary Hudson Taylor used to say” God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supply.”

 

In this case God's provision was also symbolic. The ram was an ancient Hebrew symbol of pride, independence, strength and virility. It was the epitome of self-sufficiency. The sacrifice of the Ram is thus symbolic of the sacrifice of the self-life, and of pride and of the old nature and of all its self-serving ways.  The ram thus becomes the main sacrifice for individual sin in the O.T.

 

The application is fairly obvious. God does not want us to sacrifice money or animals or our families and careers – He wants us instead to be “crucified with Christ” - to slay the old nature, to kill the ram of pride and self-sufficiency and to embrace the God who fills us with new life.

 

Now God may still ask us to give money or to change careers, but these are secondary things and come later. The primary thing, the things which MUST come before all others is to be born-again, to die to the old religious life and be born into a new Spirit-filled life, which is precisely what Jesus asked of Nicodemus, the Jewish religious expert, in John chapter 3.

 

God wants us to fear Him and love Him so that our faith is made strong and we are obedient to all His will, as Abraham was. Abraham held back nothing from God, not even his own son. This is also of course a type of the sacrifice of Christ.

 

Yet God did not make Abraham go “all the way”. He simply tested his motives, his obedience and then intervened. This is the Lord's merciful provision and the text tells us that in “the mountain of the Lord it will be provided”.  Well what are some of the characteristics of such a place of provision?

 

  It is the place of faith

  It is the place of obedience

  It is the place of worship

  It is the place of death to self

 

If we want God's provision then we need to walk in faith, be obedient, live in an attitude of God-fearing worship and also take up our cross daily.

 

This is not easy, in fact it requires a fairly radical break with this world and its ways. Abraham went way out on a limb for God, then the provision came!  This is not the stuff of safe suburban respectable church living. This is outside of most cultural and religious norms.

 

The mountain of the Lord is a high place. Few desire to go there and we admire those who do. It is like passing through a curtain into another world of humility, grace and mustard-seed faith – and to a land of great holiness and glory. 

 

God turned up, the encounter happened, and Isaac was saved through the provision of the Lord. Isaac was never asked to do the same sacrifice with Esau or Jacob, and no human has ever been asked to do this again in the whole history of redemption. It was a once occasion. But a very glorious one.

 

Faith can take us to some very strange places, but it is in those strange and wonderful places that God often turns up and pronounces a great blessing. It is in the stress of faith and the struggle of God-fearing obedience that self is crucified and ego is put away from us and new life starts to circulate within us.

 

Somewhere in this sacrificial obedience Abraham is perfected. The narrative of Abraham's life winds down from this point, in chapter 23 Sarah passes away, in chapter 24 there is the transition to the next generation with Isaac's marriage to Rebekah, and in chapter 25 Abraham goes to be with God.

 

Here we see faith taken to the human limit of costly obedience. It is as if one man actually managed to please God for one moment. The spot became the site of the Temple and now lies in the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock. And the rock on which Isaac was “sacrificed” is known as “the foundation stone of the world”. For this whole world is founded on the faith of those who fear God and upon God's providence.

 

Blessings,

 

John Edmiston (johned@aibi.ph)

 

 

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