Summary: This is the test. God is saying, “We’ve walked together for many years and now you have the son you’ve longed for. Tell me, Abraham; is this son more important to you than your relationship with me?”
Encountering God – Part 11 – Encountering Jehovah Jireh
Overview and review
We have been looking at what it means and what it is like to encounter God and how we respond to Him when we encounter Him. Over the past few weeks, we have moved from the subject of encountering God in corporate worship to encountering God in person. We spent the last 2 weeks looking at Abraham encountered God. Last week, we looked at how God showed up in person to Abraham and then revealed Himself as “El Shaddai” – the One who is All Mighty and All Sufficient. Abraham is promised a biologically impossible child through his aging wife Sarai.
This week, we are going to find out what the rest of the story is. We are going to look at that child and discover something else about God…we are going to encounter God as “Jehovah Jireh” the One who Sees our needs.
Gn 21: 1 Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. 2 So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.
Gn 22:1 Later on God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience. "Abraham!" God called. "Yes," he replied. "Here I am." 2"Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you." 3The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son Isaac. Then he chopped wood to build a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place where God had told him to go. 4On the third day of the journey, Abraham saw the place in the distance. 5"Stay here with the donkey," Abraham told the young men. "The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back." 6Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the knife and the fire. As the two of them went on together, 7Isaac said, "Father?" "Yes, my son," Abraham replied. "We have the wood and the fire," said the boy, "but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?"
8"God will provide a lamb, my son," Abraham answered. And they both went on together. 9When they arrived at the place where God had told Abraham to go, he built an altar and placed the wood on it. Then he tied Isaac up and laid him on the altar over the wood. 10And Abraham took the knife and lifted it up to kill his son as a sacrifice to the LORD. 11At that moment the angel of the LORD shouted to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Yes," he answered. "I’m listening." 12"Lay down the knife," the angel said. "Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me." 13Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the altar in place of his son. 14Abraham named the place "The LORD Will Provide." This name has now become a proverb: "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."
This passage is very troublesome for many people, new Christians are aghast at the command to sacrifice his son, non-Christians use it to say that God is blood thirsty and mean, and mature Christians are often at a loss to explain the passage. So let me start out with a disclaimer:
It appears from a casual reading of this passage that God was asking Abraham to do something that totally goes against God’s nature and which God repeatedly forbids, which is to offer a human sacrifice.
We have to understand this passage in the context of what the ENTIRE bible says, which we know God prohibits human sacrifice. This should make us ask, “what is God doing here?” Why would he ask Abraham to do something that is contradictory to His own nature? What is God REALLY doing here?
Let’s start by looking at verse 1: “Later on God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience…”
Later on or after these things. What things? Later on after what?
After the birth of the promised son that his dreams were wrapped up in.
You might recall over the past two weeks that the pivotal point for Abraham’s life is the reception and the fulfillment of the promise by God to provide a son for Abraham through whom nations and kings would come. As we look back over his life, we find everything has been pointing to this child. Now that he has this child, the central axis of his life, God does something extraordinary and asks something of Abraham that seems impossible!