Then add to that a three day journey. God sent him to the region of Moriah. Why? So that he would have time to think about it. Its one thing to agree to something on the spur of the moment but to follow through when you have had time to think about it is another thing. What must have been going through Abraham’s mind? What would be going through your mind?
We see what was going through Abraham’s mind. So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. We hear no hesitation. He just goes. He didn’t ask why. He didn’t question. He just does what God told him.
What was going through Abraham’s mind? On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the
distance. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to
worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Notice the “we”. Abraham was confident that the two of them would be returning somehow, someway. Why? Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” That’s what was going through Abraham’s mind. God will provide. God’s Word is always true. God promised that through Isaac every promise would be fulfilled. Abraham was confident that God would do what he said even in the face of a reality that said otherwise.
Abraham’s story isn’t so much a story about a man sacrificing his child, as it is about a man risking everything for his belief in God. What this sacrifice came down to was the question whether or not Abraham believed God was big enough to carry out the plan, even if Abraham destroyed the physical sign of the promise. The minute that Abraham showed that he trusted God to carry out the plan even without Isaac, he showed that he feared and trusted God.
Instead of arguing with God about it, instead of claiming it didn’t make sense, Abraham simply believed that God could do what he said and that he would do what he promised. In his mind, it wasn’t his problem; it was God’s problem. He didn’t need an explanation; he just needed to trust God. The Lord will provide.
It still boggles the mind, doesn’t it, that any father could take up a knife and be willing to sacrifice his son. Even without the promises connected to Isaac, could you do that with your child? Could any father do that? One did. God the Father did. He was asking of Abraham what he himself was willing to do. God the Father would willingly offer his one and only Son, whom he loves, as the sacrifice for the sins of the world.
The Lord will provide, Abraham said. And the Lord did provide. Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. God provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac and he provided a substitute for us, too. John the Baptist said it: “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1)
Someone once said, “The real test of love is in the sacrifice it is willing to make.” God’s love went to the limit. Like Abraham, he took his Son – his only Son – whom he loved more dearly than Abraham could ever love Isaac, and put him on the wooden altar shaped into a cross. There, unlike Abraham, he did not stop but plunged the soldier’s spear into
the heart of his son. All this he did, not because he did not love his Son, but because he loved us. His love for us would not let us perish in the hell we deserved. His love for us compelled him to give the best he had. (Adapted from Richard Lauersdorf) The Lord provided a ram for Isaac and a Savior for us.
The Lord will provide. So quickly we take it for granted – like the heart which keeps on beating in our chest, the spouse who keeps on working at our side, the job we hold and the ability to do it. Sure, we say such things are important, and then we forget about them and fail to treasure them. Perhaps we do this even more when it comes to the salvation God has prepared for us with the sacrifice of his Son.
“For you are dust, and you will return to dust,” (Genesis 3:19) God told Adam. But then he gave his Son to die for dust. Do you pay attention to dust? How could God sacrifice his Son for dust? How could he sacrifice his Son for me? How could he take all my sins, even those staggering ones that raise their ugly memories to scar my conscience? How could he then reach down from heaven through his Word and sacrament and bring me faith in his Son? How could that Son paint my name on a door in the Father’s house and promise to come again and take me there? I can’t explain it; only believe it. God doesn’t give explanations, just promises.
The Lord will provide. He provided a Savior. Will he stop there? God promises to make all things work for our good. Do we trust God to provide even when the reality we face says the opposite? Can we trust that even when the doctor says the C word, when you have been robbed of the joy of a child, when school stinks and the one you thought was the one has found someone else? Will we trust when jobs are lost, income dwindles, pain comes and body parts fail?
The Lord will provide. Will we trust when he asks us to open our wallets and share what we have for the good of others? Do we trust God’s promise or do we argue it away as just the church asking for money again. Today we are