The Lord will Provide

It is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible and would stand alone as a literary masterpiece. It is a simple story on one level of a test given, accepted, and passed. On another level, it is an astounding study of obedience and faith. And God’s provision.

“After these things God tested Abraham.”

Up until this point in Genesis 22, we have seen Abraham fail, and we have seen him grow in faith. All of it was preparation for this moment. We can know for certain that God tests his people, each one of us, and he knows perfectly how to prepare us for those tests, each one that he gives. Every father and mother know that their three-year-old son or daughter is not ready to mow and weed-eat the yard. But they also know that they can’t wait until that child is 10 before they ask them to do anything that even resembles work. Even a three-year old can pick up sticks and clean up the toys in the yard before it is mowed. Obedience, the linchpin of discipleship, starts very early. Abraham has learned to listen to God and follow his commands. This test, though, is the greatest one of his life.

“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…and offer him as a burnt offering.”

Don’t get this twisted. Don’t listen to modern criticism of Genesis. This story is not about an abusive and sadistic heavenly father, and it is not about child sacrifice. It is a story about God testing the faithfulness of his people. When God does that in Scripture, as he does here with Abraham, and as he will do with Moses in the wilderness more than once, he often calls them to obey him in ways they cannot understand. We are not offered the option of obeying God only when we completely understand his ways and his future plans for us. If that were true, none of us would ever obey. God said in Isaiah 55, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Choosing when you will obey God and when you will disobey God is refusing to believe that his ways and his thoughts are perfect.

God tests his people and that is for our good and for God’s glory. Faith is revealed and strengthened. And note this! When God tests our faith, he often asks us to give up something that we love. Really love. Notice the offering plates are not passed on Sundays so you can put something in you don’t care about. “Here’s my old coonskin hat I used to wear when I pretended to be Daniel Boone; I just don’t love it anymore.” No! We are tested every Sunday to see whether we trust God to be our provider.

Sometimes God asks us to give something up completely. A career that we loved but has become an idol. A talent that we love but has stolen our affection for God. A habit that we love but has consumed us to the point that we cannot imagine life without it. Any sacrifice of obedience is difficult, but the rewards cannot be fully measured without seeing heaven and what awaits us there.

God tested Abraham’s faithfulness and showed him just how much he could trust the Lord to provide in any and every circumstance. It is true for you and me, as well.