Old Testament passage for Wednesday, January 9, 2013: Genesis 20:1-22:24
12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:12-14 (NKJV)
One of the greatest tests any of us will face is to GIVE BACK TO GOD THAT WHICH HE HAS GIVEN US. Abraham, now perhaps 115 years old, was proud and thankful of the son God had given him. But, surprisingly, God told Abraham to lay that son on the altar.
It had taken a long time for Abraham to get Isaac in the first place. It had been an ordeal of faith, perseverance, and patience. Yet, miraculously, at the age of 100, Abraham was a daddy. Isaac was not only the object of his fatherly joy and pride, he was the fulfillment of a divine promise -- a vision to touch the nations. In many ways, Isaac represented Abraham's entire lifework and purpose.
Rembrandt: Abraham and Isaac
Now Abraham was being asked to lay it down, to drive a dagger into the heart of his son -- into the heart of his dreams, his hopes. Amazingly, Abraham responded to God's instruction without any argument at all (vs. 3). Too often, when God calls us to sacrifice our Isaacs, we scream, cry, pout, and fight. Scripture says that Abraham just got up that morning, saddled his donkey, and said, "Son, we've got work to do today."
One of the most popular verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:19. "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." We claim that promise and stand on it when we need to Lord to come through for us -- and rightly so. Abraham found a mountain called IT SHALL BE PROVIDED. The compound name of God, Jehovah-Jireh, is based on these verses. But, please take notice: this is not only the place of PROVISION, it is also the place of SACRIFICE. It is an altar.
God's greatest provision for your life is found at the place of greatest surrender. His richest blessings are in the place of deepest sacrifice. Our most wonderful worship is also, though given freely, yet most costly. The provision of God comes WHEN we are on the altar, not BEFORE. Too often, we cry out to God for His provision to keep us from experiencing pain or brokenness. His best provision, however, falls ON our brokenness.
In the story of Abraham and Isaac, God provided a ram caught in a thicket. It is amazing that Abraham did not notice this nearby animal until he had already bound Isaac and lifted the knife. Here's the lesson: God's provision is near you right now. It is within eyesight, but you won't be able to see it until you are at the place of total surrender. It is on the Mountain of the Lord that the provision will come.
So --- RUN TO THE ALTAR.