“God Will Provide”
(Genesis 22:1-14 – Lent 2 – February 18, 2018)
Genesis 22:1-14 – Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
Dear Redeemed in Christ Jesus,
“God will provide.” That is easy to say when we are thinking of something God normally does provide for us. It does not take such great faith to say, “God will provide the money I need,” if we have never faced money problems. It does not take such great faith to say, “God will provide a place to live, or food for my table,” if we have always had a roof over our head and plenty of food to eat. It takes much greater faith to say, “God will provide,” when what we hope for is completely beyond our normal experience.
That is why Abraham made such a great statement of faith when he said: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” What he hoped for was yet unseen. What he trusted God to provide was beyond his normal experience. As Romans 4:18 says, Abraham, “contrary to hope, in hope believed.” With Abraham, let us learn to say: “God Will Provide.”
1) God provided the sacrifice on Mount Moriah
First, as we hear in our text, God did indeed provide the sacrifice on Mount Moriah. God gave Abraham an amazing test of his faith. He commanded him: “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
God’s command introduced a seemingly impossible situation. Even before Isaac was born, God had promised Abraham that from Isaac would come a great nation. God had promised that through Isaac, a special Seed would one day be born – the Savior through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. To fulfill this promise, God had miraculously given Isaac as a son to Abraham and Sarah when they were well beyond childbearing years. So God’s command that Abraham now sacrifice his son seemed to destroy God’s own promises concerning Isaac.
Even still, Abraham responded with the obedience of faith. The next morning, he set out bright and early to go and sacrifice his only son. Just imagine how difficult that three-day journey must have been, as Abraham contemplated what God wanted him to do to his son.
Yet, when they arrived at Mount Moriah, he trusted that God would provide. In the face of a seemingly impossible situation, Abraham said to his servants: “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” Notice he said: “We will come back to you”! Abraham fully expected Isaac to come back with him, even after the burnt offering was made! He expected God miraculously to provide life out of death!
Then, on their way to the place of the sacrifice, Isaac was carrying the wood. But he noticed that something was missing and asked innocently: “My father! … Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And again, with the faith that had brought him this far, Abraham said: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
Abraham so firmly believed God would provide, that he built the altar as God commanded. He bound Isaac and laid him on the altar. “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” In his heart, Abraham had already given Isaac over to death. Hebrews 11:17-19 says: “He who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
“In a figurative sense,” that is, because God stopped Abraham from going through with killing Isaac. For here it says: “The Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham! … Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
Now God provided the sacrifice. A ram was caught by its horns in the bushes, and Abraham sacrificed it instead of his son. “And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.’ “
Remember, when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac he did not know it was only a test. He did not know how God would provide. “Contrary to hope, in hope” he believed that God was faithful and would keep the promises He had made even before Isaac was born.
In Genesis 15:6, when God first gave Abram His promise, it says: “he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” God counted Abraham righteous through faith in His promises – particularly the promise of the Savior who was to come. Here again the Lord confirmed His promise. In the verses after our text, the Angel of the Lord said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son – blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore…. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:15-18).
2) God provided the sacrifice on Mount Calvary
God provided the sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Even more importantly, He has provided the sacrifice on Mount Calvary. The ram God provided to save Isaac from death foreshadowed the Lamb that God has provided to save us all from death – Jesus Christ, the promised Savior. God told Abraham: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Galatians 3:16 says this “Seed” is Christ – the Savior through whom all nations on earth are blessed.
Like Abraham, we depend on God’s promises. We have no hope otherwise. We needed God to provide the sacrifice of His own Son on Mount Calvary. Otherwise, we would perish. Like Abraham and all people, we are sinful; and “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Our sinful nature shows in our unfaithfulness to God’s commands. God commands us to love Him more than anything else. As with Abraham, God gives us many opportunities to show our love to Him, by obedience. He gives us opportunities to show that we trust Him to provide. But even with far easier tests than Abraham faced, we fail to obey. We fail to show that we love God above all. We fail to trust Him to provide our needs.
How easily we put other things before the Lord. In Mark 8:34-35, Jesus says: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” But often we act as if gaining the world with its riches, pleasures, and glory were more important than following Jesus, hearing His Word, and putting His Kingdom first. How often we act as if saving our lives were more important than bearing our cross with Jesus, in a world that takes offense at His cross. Like Peter, when our faith is on trial, how often we have disowned Jesus to gain the favor of men, rather than stand up for Jesus’ truth.
Instead of denying ourselves and dying to our sinful nature, we cling to pet sins we do not want to give up for love of God. We tell ourselves: “I know it’s wrong, but if I give it up I’ll be unhappy.” Maybe there are sins we try to hide from God, because we do not trust that He will provide the forgiveness and healing we need. We do not trust Him to help us overcome our sins. We fail to love and trust in Him above all things. We fail the test of obedience.
When we find ourselves sold as slaves to sin, with the apostle Paul we say: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” By faith in God’s promises, we can declare with Paul: “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25). He delivers us from sin and death!
God kept His promise. He provided the sacrifice of His Son on Mount Calvary. We may marvel at how Abraham offered up to God his only son, whom he loved. But we can marvel even more at how God offered up His only Son, whom He loved, to save us unworthy sinners. On Mount Moriah, Isaac obediently, but unknowingly, carried the wood on which he was to be sacrificed. But on Mount Calvary, Jesus obediently, and knowingly, carried the wooden cross on which He was to be sacrificed. Abraham gave his son over to death in a figurative sense. But God gave His Son over to death in the fullest sense, in the suffering of His body and soul. God loved us so much that He provided the sacrifice of His Son on Mount Calvary, to spare us from suffering eternal death for our sins.
Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead and keep His promise to send the Savior. Like Abraham, we can trust God to keep all His promises to us. To worldly wisdom, it seems impossible that God raised Jesus from the dead, and that He saved us from sin and death by the sacrifice of His Son. But with Abraham, contrary to hope, we hope in God’s promises.
Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”; and Galatians 3:9 says: “those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” God accounts us righteous the same way He did Abraham – through faith in His promises. God’s forgiveness and righteousness is His free gift. He gives it to us and makes it our own through faith in Christ – the sacrificed Lamb He provided on Mount Calvary for us.
3) God will provide all our needs until He takes us to Heaven’s Mountain
Therefore, we know God will provide all our needs until He takes us to Heaven’s Mountain.
Today, are we facing the impossible situation? Are we wondering how God is going to provide for us, when we cannot yet see the solution? It is written: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). God has sacrificed His own Son to provide for our eternal life. Therefore, He most certainly knows how to provide for our temporal life in this world.
As with Abraham, God will never give us a test without providing the strength we need. When we are tempted, He will provide the way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). Where does our strength come from? It comes from His unfailing promises. In His Word, God reminds us that we are baptized into Christ, washed of all sin, and living by His Holy Spirit. In the Sacrament of the Altar, He feeds us the body and blood of His Son that was offered on Mount Calvary, as food for eternal life. Like Abraham, God will make us stand firm in faith to the end.
When faced with the impossible, let us pray for His help. “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). Whatever our need in life may be, let us lift it up to the Lord and say with Abraham: “God will provide.”
Indeed, He who provided the greatest sacrifice on Mount Calvary for us will provide all our needs until He takes us to heaven’s mountain. Isaiah says: “On this mountain… He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces…. And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation'” (Isaiah 25:6-9).
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.