Life's Hardest Trial
A daily devotion for June 24th
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."
[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.(Genesis 22:5)
The word is silent about the emotional reaction of Abraham here, but we have only to put ourselves in his place to sense what he felt, how his heart was torn, how he avoids telling Isaac the fearful truth until the very last possible moment, how he perhaps trembles within when Isaac asks the question,
Where is the lamb? We know there is no real answer to Isaac's question until we run through intervening centuries and listen in the New Testament to John the Baptist standing before the people of Israel saying,
Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Where did this stricken father find the strength to carry through this fearsome task? The answer is found here in one brief phrase in verse 5,
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.' Abraham is not trying to deceive these men, but somewhere in the quiet meditations of that awful night when this word first came to him, there came the consciousness that God could do something to raise this boy from the dead, and Abraham believed in resurrection. That is where he found the peace to follow God's command. In the struggles of that night, he began to reason and to reckon on God.
He must have thought something like this:
God has given me promises, and I have lived with God long enough to know that when God gives a promise, He carries it through. God has said that in my son Isaac all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Isaac is necessary to the fulfillment of the promise. It can't be any other; He has said this boy is the one who is going to be the fulfillment of the promise. Well then, if God has asked me now to offer him up as a sacrifice, there is only one explanation. God intends to raise him from the dead.
Abraham had never had, as we have today, the experience or the record of anyone having risen from the dead. Yet so firm is his faith in the character of God that he comes to a realization of the resurrection. This is confirmed in Hebrews 11:
By faith Abraham offered Isaac. . . Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead... (Hebrews 11:17,19). Abraham risked everything he owned and loved on the character of God and found Him to be a God of resurrection.
Because of this wonderful triumph in his life, Abraham calls this place,
God will provide, And based on this miracle there sprang up a little saying in Israel, a proverb:
When you get to the mount, it will be provided. God's ways with people are such that it seems as though deliverance will never come. It seems that you will never be delivered. But if you go on, when you get to the mount, it will be provided. People's disappointments are God's appointments. It is never too late for God. Even if Abraham had been required to carry the bloody business through to its end, his father's heart was quiet in restful peace because he knew God would raise his son from the dead.
God, thank You that regardless of what You call me to lay on the altar in obedience to You, You always know what is best, and You always have a plan.
Life Application: Our world is filled with corruption and suffering that seems to certify the triumph of the evil one. Do we view it all through the lens of God's character and Sovereign power?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.