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June 13, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“God himself will provide the lamb . . .”—Genesis 22:8 (NIV)
Have you heard someone say, “It’s so crazy that it just might work”? It’s a common TV/movie trope where heroes who are desperate devise an irrational, nonsensical, unbelievable plan, and it works. A good example is Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, where the rebels concoct a desperate plan to attack the Death Star with a small force in the hopes that one fighter plane could shoot a torpedo into a random vent, setting off a chain reaction, destroying the entire space station. Crazy, right? Crazy enough to work!
Why am I telling you all this? Well, the story found in Genesis 22 seems like a crazy plan. Here, God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Wait, what? That makes no sense! You see, God told Abraham in Genesis 12 that He would make him into a great nation, and Isaac was the child through whom that was to take place. But then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and . . . Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2 NIV).
This must have been a heart-wrenching and indescribably painful thing for Abraham. Isaac was Abraham’s beloved son; the future of God’s covenant rested on him. But Abraham heard God and immediately obeyed Him in faith.
Sometimes in life, we’ll be faced with situations we may not understand. But when we understand the character of God and His surpassing love and perfect goodness, as well as recognize that His will is always for our good and His glory, then we can obey Him in faith because we know that He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
You see, Abraham knew God’s will would never contradict His promise, so he held on to the promise which said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called” (Genesis 21:12 NKJV). Abraham believed that even if God allowed him to sacrifice his son, He could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17–19).
In this we see the true nature of faith. It doesn’t demand explanations; it rests on promises. That’s why Abraham was able to say to his servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5 NIV, emphasis added), and why he was able to tell his son, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering . . .” (Genesis 22:8 NIV, emphasis added).
So, what happened? Well, Isaac—who was a full-grown man and not a naïve child as he’s usually depicted in the retelling of this story—knew what was happening, carried the wood for his own sacrifice, and remained silent as he was being placed on the altar. He didn’t protest when Abraham raised the knife. He willingly gave himself up to his father. But God stayed Abraham’s hand and provided another sacrifice. “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’” (Genesis 22:14 NIV).
God used one seemingly crazy plan to foreshadow the most significant and indescribable plan in the history of the world: His plan to rescue humanity from sin and death and bring us into perfect peace with Him! When God called Abraham to follow Him, He made a promise: “I will make you into a great nation. . . . All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2–3 NLT).
As Galatians 3:16 (NIV) explains: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.” That seed, that Son of promise who would be given (Isaiah 9:6) to bless all nations and bring peace would grow up to become the Lamb (Isaiah 53:7) who would be sacrificed for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:4–5).
Christmas is a celebration of the moment God provided the Lamb!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.