I have been studying Genesis 22 for a couple weeks. It’s a story that has haunted me in the past and caused my faith some “tension.” Many Christians (I’m one of them) say they believe that God is love (1John 4:8) and that God is good (Psalms 100:5). So if God is good (what we define as beneficial and promoting well being) and God is love (a deep affection for), then WHY would He ask the one He loves (Abraham) to sacrifice his beloved son? Surely this is contradictory to the very nature of God?
In Genesis 15, God promises Abraham an heir and that he would be the father of many nations. Yet I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that God promises in one sentence and then takes away in the next. It just doesn’t make ANY sense!
We know how the story goes…that God was testing the heart of Abraham and did not allow him to follow through with the sacrifice of his son. BUT in the moment that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, he didn’t know God would stop him.
And in the moment that they were walking together to the alter, Abraham didn’t know God would stop him.
And when he was lifting the knife, Abraham didn’t know God would stop him. Abraham couldn’t SEE the end. He couldn’t SEE HOW God was going to fulfill His promise to him in that moment.
Some of us are living in similar “moments.” We cannot see how all of what is happening to us plays into the bigger picture. Life and God do not make sense. He has promised something to our hearts and yet we look around and cannot see how, where or when God will intervene so we start to wonder IF He ever will. Or, for some of us, God has asked us to release to Him the very thing He promised to give us.
I often wonder; were there tears in Abraham’s eyes as he lifted the knife? Was there such turmoil in his heart the night before that he could not find rest? Because if this was me, I probably would have convinced myself that it was not God’s voice. And I think if it were me, I would been so puzzled at the contradiction that unless God spoke audibly to me, there would be no way I would have believed it was Him. And what frightens me most is that if it were me, I probably would have missed out on a blessing so much greater than I could possibly fathom including the greatest of all blessings: being the friend of God.
Yep. It’s fair to say that this part of my bible causes me tension. But last week, something stood out in Chapter 22, verses 7 and 8. Isaac sees the wood and fire and knows they are going to make a sacrifice to the Lord but asks his father, “…where is the lamb?” (This is the part where I would have panicked. Lol). In my mind’s eye, I see Abraham calmly answering, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
Forgive my Joey Lawrence moment when I shout, “WHOA!”
Was that just a statement of faith??!!
UM…God asked Abraham to provide the sacrifice (his son) and yet Abraham says, “God himself will provide…”
Abraham had been given a HUGE promise in chapter 15…an impossible one from our standards. And it says that Abraham BELIEVED God. In other words, He trusted that God could and would!
He couldn’t see how God could bring forth an heir because of his wife’s age. But God did. And he couldn’t see in that moment what God was doing when He asked for his son as a sacrifice. But Abraham believed.
It was God’s FULL RIGHT to ask for Abraham’s son but it was also out of God’s character. What would Abraham lean on in those rough moments of testing: his faith in what he saw with his eyes or His faith in the character of God?
That leads me to believe that Abraham must have believed that God was good, loving and sovereign SO DEEPLY, that he could raise the knife without hesitation. He trusted God so deeply that He would provide. And God did. And the place was called, “The Lord WILL provide.”
Abraham got something that I still struggle with: It’s about God’s ability and not mine. This is not just about our faith. It’s about what God is doing that we cannot see. For some of us, this is a season where God isn’t making any sense. He made a promise and right now, it feels like He is going back on that promise. For me, I feel like God is asking me to sacrifice something valuable to Him but it is the very thing He promised me! I now realize my reluctance is based on my deep belief (which is untrue) that having this valuable thing makes me just that: valuable and if I give this to God too, what will I have left?
Fear says, “Nothing!”
But God asks, “Will you trust me?”
I believe that means that now is the time to make a statement of faith in who you believe God really is (EVEN if you don’t FEEL it).
Do you believe God is Sovereign? Tell Him where your heart is at.
Do you believe God is good? Tell Him.
Do you believe God is love? Tell Him.
The truth is, God is God and can do whatever He wants. He has all power and every right. We do not. He also sees more than we will ever see. His thoughts are not like our thoughts. His plans and His ways are not like ours. And there are times that we will have to realize we cannot possibly understand why and what He is doing unless He tells us. Sometimes He only gives us enough light for the step we are on.
Instead, He asks us to trust Him. Believe in Him. Believe that the pain of what we are going through has a greater purpose. Believe that He loves us and knows what is best for us.
Oh…that that promise He gave you…? He WILL see it come to pass. But, it will be in His time, by His might and His way. No one will question if it was God because there will be no other explanation. And on that day, you too, will proclaim that God HIMSELF, will provide.