Genesis 22:14. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Genesis 22 is the climax of Abraham’s life and maybe the whole book of Genesis. The story thus far has brought us to this defining moment.
Abraham and Sarah waited years for God to fulfill his promise to them.
“Your own son will be your heir.”
“You will be a great nation.”
“All nations on earth will be blessed through your son.”
And they waited, and waited, and waited.
Finally, the son of their old age has come. Isaac. He’s literally a miracle. Isaac is a walking, talking testimony to God’s faithfulness. He’s the covenant in flesh. Nothing is impossible for God. And they lived happily ever after. The end.
Not quite. Into this life of long awaited familial bliss comes Genesis 22, and with it God’s shocking command to Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. To kill his hope. To put the meaning of his whole life to death.
Genesis 22:2. “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
How could Abraham be expected to do such a thing? And how could God even ask?
Our usual answer is that God is testing Abraham’s devotion. That God didn’t really intend to let Isaac die. He just wanted to see if Abraham would obey. “What if I asked you to do this one really hard thing, would you do it?”
But is this the best answer? Is this really just a test of Abraham’s devotion? Hasn’t Abraham already proven his loyalty? He left Ur. He waited for decades. He got circumcised for goodness sake! Hasn’t Abraham already proven enough to God?
But the ram gives us the answer. The ram?
Genesis 22:13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
In dramatic fashion God stays the knife of Abraham, stopping Isaac’s death. But instead of simply saying, “Good job you passed the test,” and sending Abraham and Isaac on their way home, God provides a ram for sacrifice. What does this tell us? It tells us that this was more than just a test. It tells us that there is still a need for a sacrifice. It tells us that Isaac really did need to die to atone for his family’s sins. And now there’s a ram because Abraham and Isaac need a substitute.
Genesis 22 is a test, but less of devotion and more of dependency. On Mount Moriah, we are reminded of what it means to be alive. What it means to live as a human rather than as a god. To be human is to be fully dependent upon God. After years of walking with God, Abraham has proven his devotion. But does Abraham understand his need for dependence upon God for salvation no matter how “good” he’s been? Does he understand his need for a sacrifice? Yes, God is his friend, but is God also his savior?
Mount Moriah makes the need of Abraham very clear. Isaac was not Abraham’s greatest need. Barrenness was not Abraham and Sarah’s biggest problem. And Isaac is not their savior. In his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham proves he understands this. He understands his dependence upon a substitute.
But it’s not Isaac.
The Lord WILL provide. In the future. The true provision was yet to come. The greater Isaac, Jesus, will carry his cross of wood up the same mountain 2000 years later. But the executioner’s hand will not be stayed. And no ram will take Christ’s place on that day, for he is also our ram. Jesus is our eternal atonement. He’s the savior we all need.
Life is not first an ongoing test of our devotion to God. It is first a test of our dependency upon God. Not do you love God? But do you need a savior? Do you need a substitute for when you fail to love God? “To live is Christ” is to live from a deep dependency on God’s provision of a savior. A substitute life. Christ’s life. The Lord HAS provided. And it’s Christ in you.
What are you depending on today? What is your functional savior?
Christ in you
How does your union with Christ prove your great need but also God’s great provision?
You in Christ
How can you live from dependency first and then devotion? Why is it so important that this be the order?
Playlist: God Provides
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