June 4, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”—Genesis 22:8 (NIV)
Have you ever been asked to do something crazy—something so insane you never thought you’d have to do? If you have, you’re not alone. In Genesis 22, God gave a strange command to Abraham.
God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Wait, what? You mean the son of promise? The one from whom a great nation was supposed to be built? Yes, that one. God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love . . . Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering . . .” (Genesis 22:2 NIV).
This must have been a heart-wrenching, indescribably painful thing for Abraham. Can you imagine being asked to sacrifice what you hold dearest? Would you be obedient like Noah or run in the opposite direction like Jonah? Think about how unreasonable and insane God’s request sounded. Isaac was Abraham’s beloved son and the future of God’s covenant rested on him. Isaac was a miracle, the gift of God in response to the faith of Abraham and Sarah. But Abraham heard God and immediately obeyed Him in faith.
Sometimes in our lives, we’ll be faced with having to make what seems to be an impossible, difficult choice . . . a choice we may not understand. But when we understand the character of God, when we understand His love for us, when we recognize that His will is always for our good and His glory, we can faithfully obey Him because we know 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 that God’s will would never contradict His promise, so this faithful father 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, that 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).
Something that often gets lost in this story is Isaac’s faith and obedience. So often when we picture this story, we imagine Isaac as a young child, a little boy. But most biblical scholars believe he was between 18 and 33 years old—after all, he had to be big and strong enough to carry all the wood for the burnt offering.
What an amazing parallel we see here in Isaac’s story of God’s plan for redemption through Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to bear the sins of the world. Most scholars believe that Isaac knew what was happening. He carried the wood of 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 . . . just like Jesus! James E. Goodman describes Isaac as, “knowing and willing, quiet if not completely silent, and above all else not suffering.” Clement of Alexandria wrote, “He (Jesus) is Isaac . . . for he was the son of Abraham as Christ the Son of God and a sacrifice as the Lord.”
In the end, 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). And a little over 2,000 years later, God did indeed provide the Lamb when He sent Jesus to save us!
Pause: What can we learn from both Abraham and Isaac in this amazing story?
Practice: Is the Lord asking something seemingly crazy of you today? Is He calling you to do something you don’t understand, something beyond your capacity for reason? Maybe He’s challenging you to move to another city or country, take a new job, or start a Bible study in your home or workplace. Maybe He’s leading you to share the gospel with your neighbor, classmate, or coworker. Take a cue from Abraham and honor that call! When you step out in faith and obedience, the Lord is faithful to bless you, carry you through it, and do something truly miraculous in and through you!
Pray: Dear God, give me the faith of Abraham and the quiet obedience and willingness of Isaac to go where You are leading me each and every day. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at 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.