Last night I was driving back to school with a good friend of mine and she said that the day before, a passage of scripture had come to her mind and she felt like the Lord was impressing it upon her to share it with me. I was eager to hear it.
She opened her Bible to Genesis 22 and began to read the story of Abraham and Isaac. This is one of those stories everyone has grown up hearing. I listened intently to see what God was trying to teach me. I left the conversation encouraged, but still not knowing exactly why God wanted me to hear that passage.
I came into my room and immediately began to prepare my Sunday School lesson for the next day. I began by praying, then opened up the lesson guide. To my dismay, it said, "Turn to Genesis 22:1-18)...the story of Abraham and Isaac!
I smiled, but I wasn't too surprised. God seems to always have a way of doing things like this when He is trying to get my attention.
So this time as I read the story, I tried my hardest to really focus and put myself in Abraham's shoes. And y'all...the story completely came to life!
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Bible, the basic story of Abraham and Isaac is this: Abraham and his wife Sarah had prayed and waited for a child for so many years. When Abraham was 100, God blessed him with his son, Isaac. But then God tests Abraham and tells him to sacrifice his son and offer him as a burnt offering.
Hold up. Sacrifice his only son? The one he had waited his whole life for? And now Abraham is just supposed to kill him?!
Instead of reacting in the way I just did, Abraham doesn't question God at all. He gets up early in the morning and takes young Isaac with him up the mountain. I imagine it was a somber, quiet walk. He took the wood and placed it over his boy.
Isaac says, "Father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
Abraham replied, "God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." He had full confidence that God would provide.
Now, I don't have any children and can't even imagine how much a father must love his son. But as I was reading this passage, I replaced Isaac with someone I love very dearly. I tried to visualize myself in Abraham's place, holding a knife over my little brother (sorry Tate, I promise I love you). The image was too terrifying for me to dwell on for longer than a few seconds. But I got an idea of how difficult and heart-breaking it must have been for Abraham to raise up that knife.
Though I had heard the story so many times, the suspense made it difficult for me to breathe as I read what came next. Just as Abraham was about to slaughter Isaac, an Angel of the LORD called out to him. He told him not to lay a hand on the boy for "now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me." At this point, Abraham saw a ram in the bushes and went and offered it in place of his son.
Can you imagine the relief he must have felt?
Some people may think it was cruel of God to ask Abraham to do such a terrible thing. But God never intended for Isaac to even have a scratch on his body. He simply wanted to test Abraham's faith to see if he would be the one to be the father of many nations. He tested him by seeing if Abraham was willing to give up THE most important thing in his life.
...and he was. I wish I could have faith like that!
I love that after God provided the ram, Abraham named the place "The LORD Will Provide." He wanted people who came to that mountain to be reminded of the Lord's faithfulness.
How cool is it that the God who was faithful to provide for Abraham is the same God who is always faithful to me? I tried to think of a time that God had not provided for me...and I couldn't think of one! No matter how discouraged I get sometimes, He always, always, always provides.
And He will provide for you too. Are we willing to step out in faith?