Genesis 22:1-14 1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Do you ever worry you won’t have enough of something? Anyone here say they have enough time every day to do everything they need to do? I’ve found myself thinking, “If there were only 9 days in a week instead of 7 I would have enough time to get everything done I want or need to get done.” Anyone else ever have that thought? Do you worry that you won’t have enough time to get things done? Do you worry you won’t have enough talent or confidence to get your dream job? Anyone ever worry you won’t have enough energy to do what you need to do? Do you worry you won’t have enough money to retire? Probably a lot of us have worried or worry about not having enough money to pay the bills. There is a lot of pressure on men especially, to be good providers for their families. All of us can feel like we don’t have what it takes to be enough or provide enough.
Sometimes we struggle to admit we don’t have what it takes to provide, to complete a task, to pull off all of our obligations, but we like to pretend we can. It is real easy to get to our breaking point real quick when we don’t have what something takes, but we stretch ourselves like fools to act like we do. Yes, we have obligations and responsibilities in life. Yes, we need to work hard and rise to some challenges, but in the end we have to admit to ourselves and to God that we need Him. We can’t do life on our own. We need a Provider. This morning we all, if we were honest, lack something. We all need something.
The wonderful news I have for us this morning is that God is a wonderful Provider! Philippians 4:19 reminds us “My God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
- When God meets a need there is great contentment.
- When God meets a need there is great peace.
- When God meets a need there is no more worry.
- When God meets a need there is great celebration.
- When God meets a need there is hope for the future.
What does it mean that God supplies all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus? Christ’s riches are inexhaustible. There is no limit to what He has provided and can provide.
Abraham knew God as His Provider. Apparently he had had enough experiences with God coming through for Him to believe that during the biggest crucible of his life, he was able to rest in God’s provision BEORE God ever provided.
Wouldn’t that be awesome: To live with contentment, to sleep in peace, to live without worry, to maintain a spirit of worship and celebration, and to have unbroken hope about your future BEFORE you even see the provision you need? Abraham did. Wow. What a spiritual place to strive for. I want that.
Years before this story took place, God had told Abraham that he would bless him with a son in his old age, and through that son, all people on earth would be blessed. Well, as Abraham was nearing a century old, God made good on His promise. Miraculously, Isaac was born. God had proven He was faithful to His promises. He had proven He had miraculous power to deliver on those promises. So we know Abraham knew through firsthand experience that God was faithful and God was powerful.
God asked Abraham to do something unthinkable, something forbidden, something pagan people did that God had called an abomination. Sacrificing a child was unthinkable. So what was going on? Was God out of His mind? Abraham knew God well enough to know that He had a good and godly reason for making any request that He made. How many of us believe in and trust someone that completely? How much faith does that take? How many of us would have done what God requested?
Abraham was so close to God that He believed God would provide a way out or a way through this circumstance, and he set out in full obedience to sacrifice his son. In verse five Abraham said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” The servants didn’t know he was heading to the slaying of his son. They had no idea that Abraham had just delivered the biggest faith statement of his life to them. They had no clue Abraham was declaring one of the most profound, powerful speeches of his life. In his mind he was thinking, “In an act of worship and obedience to God, I am going to kill my son, and because God is faithful and powerful, when this is over, both of us will come back and we will all go home together.” That is faith, but it was obviously faith based on real life experiences that God would deliver otherwise this would have been a story about Abraham’s insanity rather than one about faith and God’s provision.
What is interesting in this story is that God took Abraham ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE before He provided. After Abraham preached his powerful two-sentence sermon God could have said, “Stop.” “You have proven your obedience,” but He didn’t. After Abraham put the wood on the altar God could have told him he had gone far enough. After Abraham had gotten Isaac to agree to lay down on top of the wood, God could have said, “You are faithful, Abraham, let’s call this off,” but he didn’t. Isaac wasn’t a little boy when this took place. He was probably at least twenty when this took place. Abraham was like 120. He couldn’t have wrestled Isaac to the altar. So, Abraham not only had to believe that God was faithful and powerful, but he had to convince Isaac that God was faithful and powerful. How do you process that when you are Isaac, and death is staring you in the face? After Abraham bound his son to the altar, “God could have said, “You have done what I have required,” but He didn’t. God took Abraham all the way to the edge, all the way to complete obedience. The knife was in his hand. He lifted it over Isaac’s head. Abraham had started the downward motion and God called out, “STOP!”
Anyone here this morning feel like you are getting close to the edge? Don’t abandon the course. Don’t be satisfied with partial obedience. Don’t let your faith waiver. Take it all the way to the edge. God lives on the edge, and He is there to provide! Don’t short-circuit God’s provision by just being halfway obedient. Go all the way to the edge because that is where the provision is!
I have read this story a hundred times if I have read it once. I have preached on it several times, and had never fully considered just what God asked Abraham to do. I know He asked him to sacrifice deeply, but was there something else? Was there something about provision you and I need to know?
Let’s let Isaac represent Abraham’s life’s dream. All Abraham and Sarah ever wanted was a son. They had even worked through the use of a surrogate to have a son. Their human effort proved not to be a good idea, and they had to just wait to see if their hopes and dreams would ever come true. So many years passed, and they realized their dream. Isaac was born. When you attain something you work for and hope for and wait for and finally get it, don’t you try to hold on to it and protect it? I would.
God wasn’t asking for sacrifice, but obedience. And in His seemingly crazy request of Abraham, I believe He was asking Abraham two questions:
1.Do you trust me enough to lay down your plans, hopes, and dreams?
2.Do you trust me enough to pick up my plans, hopes, and dreams for your life?
When Abraham bound Isaac on the altar he was symbolically laying down his plans, hopes, and dreams. He was submitting his life’s agenda. He was giving up his heart’s desire and his heart’s fulfillment rather than holding on to this son of promise and rather than trying to protect this one who was the fulfillment of his life’s dream.
And God provided. There was no killing of Isaac. God provided a ram in the bush for Abraham to sacrifice. That moment was another confirming moment in Abraham’s life, but what was it for Isaac? It proved Abraham’s faith, but what did it do for Isaac’s faith? How convincing was God’s provision for Isaac? How critical was it for this one through whom all nations would be blessed to know that God is Jehovah Jireh which means He is our Provider?
We think of this story as the story of Abraham’s faith, and rightly so, but perhaps, there is more. Perhaps this was the making of a godly man named Isaac who needed a God-encounter of his own. Think about what Isaac experienced first-hand in this encounter. He heard God speaking with his own ears. This wasn’t like the times he had heard about being the son of promise as his parents told him stories about God’s promises. This wasn’t like the times his dad had told him about his miraculous conception. This wasn’t like the times his dad had told him about his destiny. This time he heard it from God for himself.
Look at Genesis 22:12-18 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” 15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
When God provided what Abraham needed He was also providing the life-convincing encounter Isaac needed to not just take his dad’s word for it, but to follow God for himself. You see, when God provides, He provides for more than just you. There are others watching your life, others who need to see God at work, and when you live in obedience to God, He will take you to the edge not only just to prove your faith but to provide convincing evidence for other people that He is a trustworthy Provider and Source for all things good in life and in the life to come.
What the Christian life boils down to is simply this: Do we trust God to provide what we truly need in life over our own thoughts about what we should attain, possess, and protect?
Only when we surrender can we truly possess what God wants to provide for us. What is your Isaac? What have you worked hard to attain? What have you acquired after years of praying, waiting, and hoping? What more could you possess if you surrender it to the Lord? Who else could see God at work if you are willing to fully obey all the way to the edge? Do you realize you can’t fully obey God unless you trust and expect God to provide? There is no way Abraham could have done what was requested unless he expected God to provide some way out of the difficult situation.
Abraham went to the place of sacrifice needing and expecting God to provide. Do we live that way? Are we even aware we need God to provide for us? Jesus wanted His followers to embrace that it would be God who would be their Provider. That is why He taught them to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6) Daily bread. Daily provision. Do you see yourself as daily in need?
The truth is we don’t have enough. We can’t provide everything we need for ourselves. We have to look to God to supply spiritual, emotional, and physical needs we all have. Abraham depended on God for his son’s life. He depended on God for his own life because if something would have happened to his son as a result of Abraham’s own hand against him his life would have been shattered.
Do you think Abraham just learned to trust God in the big moment of crises? There is no way. I believe Abraham walked with God and looked to Him to supply what he needed day by day. Learning to trust God day by day is the way to receive His provision in the little things as well as the big things. You know the expression that we have to take life “one day at a time.” We dare not think we can take life a day at a time unless we also take the Lord one day at a time.
Set in the context of the Lord’s Prayer where we ask for daily bread is the same petition that we make when we say, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” In other words, Jesus was helping his disciples see that as they trusted God to provide they were to trust Him to provide the things of the Kingdom, the things God wills for us. Provision is not just about receiving from God, but it is about receiving what He desires we should possess that ought to be important to us. Now that is radical! In allowing God to supply our lives with what He desires we are not only turning our needs over to Him, but our wills as well.
What God wants us to know today is that He desires to be our Soul Provider as well as our Sole Provider. God not only wants us to look to Him for salvation but to walk daily with Him, to express our needs, to fully obey Him with the expectation that He will provide what is needed to enable us to fully obey, and that He will take care of our physical and emotional needs just as He has taken extreme measures to provide for us spiritually. Everything we need can be obtained by starting with Him! He wants to be our daily source.
David experienced God in this way. He said in Psalm 145:16, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” He has given us a beautiful world to enjoy. He has established the relationships we enjoy in our families and with our friends. The food we eat is possible because of the rain and sunshine God blesses us with. The roses we can choose to stop and smell, and the air we breathe which sustains our lives are all good and perfect gifts from God.
Every day we have need of God for wisdom to help us know when to speak and act and when to watch and pray. Every day we need God to guide us and help us make solid decisions. Every day we need strength and energy to accomplish tasks. It doesn’t matter how young you are you still get tired! You still need daily strength and energy to accomplish all that is demanded of you, and in today’s world it’s a lot! Young people today are juggling a lot of activity and in many cases, a lot of responsibility. Isaiah 40:30-31 tells us God will supply it for there we read: 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
The kind of relationship God wants with you is one in which you acknowledge and trust Him every day. He doesn’t want a once a week relationship with you, but He wants to be your Provider every day. This concept is so dramatically seen in Exodus 16 when the Israelites needed food, and God allowed manna, a type of bread, to rain down from heaven. Every day God would send the manna. The Israelites were simply told to take what they needed for that day. They weren’t supposed to take more than a day’s supply. If they did, it would spoil.
Why wouldn’t God just let them take extra and just do what needed to be done in order to keep it from spoiling? It was because the manna was more than bread. It was more than food for a day. It was the reminder that God wanted to be engaged with them on a day to day basis to provide for their needs, and He wanted to be foremost in their minds when it came to provision. Why? Because He is puny and pathetic and weak and needs us to talk to Him so that He isn’t bored or lonely? Not at all. He wants us to check in daily because daily He has more than bread to give, and you and I need more than food to eat. He wants to give us more than we even ask for, more than we are even aware we need or that He has for us. He wants to use us to bless the nations of the earth. Will you trust Him?
“For no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind had known what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
One thing I know about life is that it is increasingly unpredictable and hard. This economy is tough. I don’t often eat out for lunch, but I treated myself to Subway last Monday. When I went to pay for my six inch tuna sandwich, a bag of chips, and a soda and the lady behind the counter said, “That will be $9.01” I about passed out. Many people are just barely making it financially. It seems that more and more people I know have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. It seems more and more people are dealing with addiction and children who have disconnected from their families. Wars and rumors of wars aren’t ending, but tension is escalating all over the world.
If we ever needed the Lord it is now. We live in a time when we don’t have enough, whether food and money to pay the bills or wisdom to know how to pursue those who are living dangerously and disconnected. We don’t have enough strength to endure life’s trials and enough peace to keep our hearts from fear and anxiety. But God has more than enough to give.
How can I wrap this up for us this morning? What is the big idea? God is a wonderful Provider. He wants to use you to bless the peoples of the world, but sometimes He has to take you to the edge in order to do it. Lay down your dreams and plans, and pick up His. Learn to walk with Him day by day, trusting Him to supply everything you need whether physical, emotional, or spiritual and when you do, you will see He is the God who is more than enough!