Genesis 21-22

The Lord Will Provide

Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. Genesis 22:8 NASB

This statement by Abraham was not just lip service. He believed it. In spite of the fact that he was on his way to sacrifice his own son at the Lord’s command. He believed that God would see to it that everything turned out all right – even if he was forced to go through with the command to take his own son’s life. Over in the book of Hebrews we learn that Abraham even believed that if he had to go through with the plan to kill his own son, which he was more than willing to do, God would raise Isaac from the dead. “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.‘ Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead” (Hebrews 11:17-19 NLT).

The Lord will provide. That is the theme of these two chapters. In fact, that is the name Abraham gave to the place where he was about to sacrifice his own son. In the Hebrew it is Yahweh Yireh and it literally means, “The Lord will see to it.” God had this situation well in hand and knew exactly what to do. Abraham could trust God for the outcome because God sees and knows. His plan is best. Abraham had been learning to trust God. This was not the first time Abraham had been asked to sacrifice a son by God. Back in chapter 21 God had told Abraham to send his firstborn by Hagar away into the wilderness. Sarah demanded that Abraham get rid of Ishmael because of his mocking behavior towards Isaac. Her demand greatly distressed Abraham, but God confirmed that he was to listen to Sarah and send Ishmael away. “So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food for the journey, and strapped a container of water to Hagar’s shoulders. He sent her away with their son, and she walked out into the wilderness of Beersheba, wandering aimlessly” (Genesis 21:14 NLT). This had to have been hard for Abraham. But God had promised to take care of his son and to bless him. “But God told Abraham, ‘Do not be upset over the boy and your servant wife. Do just as Sarah says, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. But I will make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he also is your son'” (Genesis 21:12-13 NLT). Just a few verses later, after wandering around in the wilderness in despair, God visits Hagar and confirms His promise to her and the text says, “God was with the lad” (Genesis 21:20).

The Fear of the Lord

Just about the time Abraham was going to plunge the knife into his son’s body, God intervened. He stopped Abraham from going through with the sacrifice. And He immediately said to Abraham, “for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me” (Genesis 22:12 NLT). Abraham’s devotion to God was exhibited in his willingness to sacrifice that which was most dear to him – his own son. The son he had been waiting for all his life. The son who was the fulfillment of the promise of God and the hope of his future. But God meant more to him than even Isaac. God meant more to him than even Ishmael. God meant more to him than anything else. And he proved it with his actions.

Devotion in action

It’s easy to say we’re devoted to God. It’s another thing to live it out. But devotion is the key to godly character. If we are not truly devoted to God, we will not live for Him. We will not make Him first in our lives. Instead, we will allow all kinds of things to take precedence and priority over Him – even good things like our kids, marriage, career, or ministry. We will say we are devoted to God, but live with a host of other things that hold a higher place in our hearts and minds. God will ask us to sacrifice them, to let go of them, in order to prove our devotion to Him, but we will tend to hold on to them like a dog with a rag. Abraham could have attempted to hold on to Ishmael and Isaac, but instead, he was willing to let them go, because God meant more to him than anything or anyone else. Every day, God is asking you and me to let go of our pride, our self-sufficiency, our reputation, our plans, our finances, our careers, our stuff – all in order to prove that He means more to us than anything else. And when we do He proves Himself to us, by seeing to it that we find all that we ever needed or desired in Him. We discover that God really does provide.

Father, You are the great provider. But so often I place my hopes on other things or other people to provide what only You can. Abraham could have decided not to obey You because he had put all his hope for the future in Isaac. But he knew that You alone could fulfill Your promises to him. He was going to have to trust You. And I want to do the same. I want to grow in my devotion to You and my trust in You. You are the one who sees and provides. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

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