When is the last time you made a real sacrifice for someone? Maybe you gave up a seat on the bus, or perhaps you let your kid have the center cinnamon roll. But let’s get real—these are very small things. And yet, we struggle to make these sacrifices. How many times have you lobbied for your Spotify playlist? Driver’s choice, sorry everybody! These aren’t sacrifices, though. Maybe inconveniences. Maybe a temporary foregoing of our preferences. But what Abraham went through on the mountain with Isaac is a supernatural dynamic of faith.
Imagine being Abraham. Desert beard and all. First, the God you’ve just come to know told you to let goods and kindred go and to follow Him to a new land (Genesis 12:1). You did it. Imperfectly, but still, you did it. God then promises you a baby boy, and your wife laughs herself onto the floor (18:12–15). Soon after, a baby’s cry fills your tent. You watch your son learn to walk, speak, and turn into a young man—and then God tells you to put your son on the altar. Your beloved son, the gift from this God you’ve come to know and follow.
Somehow, you do it. You trust God.
You tell your boy that, together, you must head up the mountain to worship God. You tighten the wood on his back. You try to hide the tears crowding the corners of your eyes. You can’t bear hearing your son ask about the sacrifice. “God will provide,” you tell him (22:8)—and you keep telling yourself He will too.
Your grip on the knife makes your pulse skyrocket, your hands sweat, and your stomach sour. Your lungs can’t get enough air as you close your eyes, unable to look at the son whom you love, raise the blade, and then hear the voice of God calling out to you and telling you to Stop!
God points out a ram to take the boy’s place. You untie your boy, embrace him, haul the ram over, and worship the Lord your God because He provided a substitutionary sacrifice of His own (v.14).
Abraham believed God. He believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead because Abraham held onto God’s promise that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky (Hebrews 11:9). Isaac had to live. And God provided another way.
Do you see how God has provided for you? His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, died in your place for your sins. Do you see how the risen Christ loves and leads you today? What about the Holy Spirit helping you kill sin and grow in holiness? Your church community? The Bible you read today? Brothers, remember that Abraham didn’t rename the place, “The Lord might provide” but “the Lord will provide” (v.14, emphasis mine). He did provide, and He will again. Just keep your eye on the clouds. He’s coming soon.
Written by J.A. Medders