The Lord Will Provide
1st Sunday in Lent
The Lord Will Provide
Text: Genesis 22:1-18
I love my kids. Sometimes they’re a little crazy, but I still love them. Sometimes they keep me up all night, but I still love them. Sometimes they cost a whole lot of money, but I still love them. Sometimes they don’t have on their listening ears (okay, maybe a lot of times), but I still love them.
What parent wouldn’t say the same? Children can be frustrating, exhausting, expensive. But when all is said and done, we love our children. We would do anything for our children. We would even give up our own lives for our children.
Abraham and Sarah waited and waited, then waited some more. But they realized that Sarah was barren and unable to have children. And, they were now old. This was a source of sadness and frustration as this was a time when it was considered a disgrace not to have children. Fathers also wanted heirs to their land and possessions. As Abraham crossed into the 90s, their hopes for children seemed to be gone.
Imagine their surprise when one day the Lord came and told them they would finally have a child in one year when Abraham was 100 years old! Sarah was so old and so barren that she actually started to laugh. (That’s where Isaac got his name. His name in Hebrew means he laughs.) Imagine their greater surprise when the Lord promised great blessings through this son: He would be the father of many nations. He would be rich and successful. The Messiah would even come from his line!
What joy they had when this new baby boy was born! He was truly a miracle! How precious Isaac was to Abraham and Sarah! How special every minute with him would have been!
And how incredibly challenging when God came to Abraham with a test! God really made it hard on Abraham. Verse 2: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering.”
What would you say? “You want me to do what, God? Isaac? You got to be kidding me! This is the son you promised me. This is the son you said would be great. This is the son you said would be the heir to the Promised One. Are you going to break every promise, and my heart, God?”
I suppose that would be an expected kind of response from us. Don’t we often react like that when God puts us to the test?
“Why don’t you want me to have more money or a better job, God? I have a family to provide for! And you know I would give you more money in offerings! Don’t you want more offerings from me?”
“Why do I have to be sick? I have a life to live, you know. I have things to do. I have a career. I would love to do more for other people and even for you, God. Is this sickness really necessary?”
“Do I really need all these troubles, God? I go to church. I don’t think I need this many tests of my faith, do I? What are you trying to prove, God? How much do I need to suffer?”
Our minds will run all day long when God is testing us. We wonder what we’ve done wrong to deserve it. We wonder if God really knows how much we are hurting. We wonder if God really knows what he is doing.
Then our minds start wandering with ways we’ll beat our tests from God. Maybe if we stay busy we can just ignore our trials . . . Maybe if we go on a new diet or read a new book . . . Maybe if we write in a diary.
How quickly our eyes and efforts turn away from God and to ourselves! But look at Abraham when he was put to the test. No questions asked. No excuses. No trying to get out of it. He packed up his things and went off with his son Isaac to sacrifice him.
The test didn’t get any easier either. Young Isaac, probably around 12, started to catch on that something wasn’t right: “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” he asked. Yet Abraham replied in faith and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.”
Or what do you think it was like for Abraham to tie up his son? To lay him on top of the altar? To raise the knife and be ready and 100% committed to slaying his son as a sacrifice? The temptation to pack up his only son, his special promised son, must have been incredible. But he never flinched, turned back, or questioned God. He fully obeyed.
Isn’t it amazing that we face countless temptations on a daily basis, but yet have opposite results! Maybe not amazing. More like shameful! God has not asked us to do something life changing and drastic like sacrificing one of our children to him. But he does ask us to do more simple things to show our obedience: Not to misuse his name. To remember the Sabbath Day. To keep our words pure and clean. To keep our thoughts pure and clean. To love him. Not to love money.
They are simple things, but oh how we struggle to obey! The temptation to look for a way out and do what we think is better, easier, or more fun is so strong!
God asked Abraham to do something that doesn’t make sense to worldly reasoning. Why would you sacrifice your son? In a way, God asks us to do things that don’t make sense to worldly reasoning. Why would you get up to go to church on the weekend? Why wouldn’t you indulge in every craving or desire you want? Why not live your life the way you want to?
Isn’t it amazing—no, isn’t it shameful—how we can pray “lead us not into temptation,” but then walk out these church doors and fall into sin before we can even say the word temptation! Rarely do we resist like Abraham resisted. Rarely do we obey like Abraham obeyed.
Then again, Abraham didn’t always pass the test either. He had plenty of sins in his life too that are recorded in Scripture. All of us, including Abraham, fall into temptation over and over as we fall deeper and deeper into sin, which separates us more and more from God.
God was merciful to Abraham though. As he raised the knife about to kill his son, the Lord stopped him. Abraham showed his faith and trust. Abraham showed that he loved God more than anything. So God provided a ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac. That’s why Abraham called that place, The Lord Will Provide because God provided a way out and provided safety for Isaac by providing a substitutionary sacrifice.
This act of God for Abraham certainly reminds us of his mercy to us. The Lord has provided for us as well. There was another animal that took our place as a substitutionary sacrifice. A lamb. The Lamb of God. Though we should be the ones to die for all the temptations we have fallen into and sins we have committed, the Lamb of God instead sacrificed himself to take the death we deserve.
He was a perfect sacrifice in every way. He never fell into temptation like we do. He always obeyed his heavenly Father. We saw an example of that today as he resisted Satan’s very challenging temptations in the desert. And after his perfect life in our place he died for our sins in our place.
As Mount Moriah was renamed The Lord Will Provide by Abraham, so we today could rename Mount Calvary The Lord Will Provide. There on the cross God provided a way out and provided safety by providing a sacrifice. There God provided us with forgiveness and a new life.
Even still today, The Lord Will Provide for us. He who loved us enough to provide his own Son for us will also love us enough to provide a way out of our trials and temptations. We can be confident that a God who loved us enough to forgive us also loves us enough to help us with our daily struggles.
The apostle Paul once said, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” The Lord Will Provide when we face temptations and troubles. If we are being tempted to sin, there is always a way out. We can turn the TV or the music off. We can turn off our computers. We can look to someone else for encouragement. We can call a friend for help. We can train ourselves with more Bible study to be stronger to resist temptations.
If we are suffering troubles and problems, The Lord Will Provide. He will not test us beyond what we can bear. Maybe the Lord doesn’t ask us to sacrifice our children because he knows that our faith isn’t quite as strong as Abraham’s. Maybe that would be more than we could bear. But God does promise that the trials we do experience are things we can bear. Our family problems, our sicknesses, our money problems—everything we suffer from is something that God promises we can handle (with his help of course!). The Lord Will Provide. This is something that we can count on and trust completely.
It is truly amazing to look back at Abraham and see just how willing he was to obey and how confident he was in the Lord. The great heroes of faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, tells us how strong Abraham’s trust was. Here’s what it says: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.”
Abraham knew that Isaac was his only son, the promised son, the son through whom a great nation was to come and the Messiah was to come. So when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham agreed to do it because he trusted God’s promises completely. His trust in God’s promises was so great that he simply reasoned that God would raise Isaac from the dead. Abraham trusted in God so much that he figured God would do the seemingly impossible rather than fail to keep his promises. Abraham was right. God didn’t break his promises.
Sometimes it might seem like the temptations that we face and the troubles that we endure are insurmountable, even unreasonable. But we can have Abraham-like confidence that The Lord Will Provide in any and every situation.
If the Lord loved Abraham enough to keep his promise and to provide a substitute for Isaac, and if the Lord loved us enough to keep his promise and provide a way out of our sins through our substitute Jesus, then most certainly the Lord loves us enough now and will provide for us each and every day. It’s his promise. He will keep it. Like Abraham, trust in God’s mercy and love. He will not fail us.
Posted on February 26, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Abraham, Church, Genesis, Genesis 22, God's Providence, Isaac, Moriah, Provide, Sarah, Sermons, Temptation, Temptation of Jesus, Temptations, Test, Trial. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.