GOD’S WORDS TRANSLATED INTO GOOD WORKS DEFINES GODLY CHARACTER
Thesis: When God’s People emulate God’s character, human needs are met and God is glorified. God’s “names” reveal God’s character. Application: Identify “names” that are descriptive of your character.
GOD OUR PROVIDER
At McDonald’s this past week, a friend raised some questions that have no easy answers. Why this and why that? Why is it, that, when bad things happen to good people, God seems to be silent? How are we going to solve all these problems? When is God going to intervene and make things right? Who is God going to use as His instrument, His intervener? In the meantime, what are we supposed to do?
On the day these questions were raised, this Bible study had already become a part of my praying and thought pattern for the week. For several days, my mind had been wrestling with making sense of a biblical story of the magnitude of Abraham’s - when he faced the biggest crisis of his life. Indelible impressions had already been made.
From the account of Abraham’s encounter with “the angel of the LORD”, there is indelibly inscribed on my mind one of the profoundest revelations that this brain of mine has ever absorbed! When it struck me, that proverbial light in my head came on:
God’s promised provision on that occasion on a mountain top in Moriah solved the mystery associated with the questions “who, what, when where, why, and how” – and, in answer to his questions, I shared my interpretation of it with my friend.
Before sharing my interpretation with you, we need to read and review the amazing story of the sacrifice Abraham was directed to offer – Genesis 22:1-14 . . .
Toward the end of his life, Abraham experienced his greatest test ever.
God spoke Abraham’s name and, as he had done ever since the day God called him to leave Ur to go to a new land, Abraham made himself available to go wherever God wanted him to go and to do whatever God wanted him to do – saying, “Here I am.”
Yes, God knew where Abraham was, just as surely as God knows where Cunningham is, just as surely as God knew where Adam was when God asked, “Adam, where art thou?” The question is: Do YOU know where you are? If so, are you available for being . . . for becoming . . . for going . . . for doing . . . saying? Once you make yourself available, listen carefully to what God says next!
Inevitably a life-changing command . . . commission . . . challenge will be forthcoming from the LORD - of such magnitude that you could find yourself in a position you never wanted to be in – second-guessing God (“You want me to do what?”)
Abraham had left his homeland as the Lord directed him, to go to a new land which the Lord would show him, to become father of a great nation, but how could this be if he had no heir – a birth not likely to occur at his age of 99 and his wife’s age of 90.
By faith, Abraham had done all that God told him to do, and God had done all that He promised He would do, including the miraculous birth of Isaac.
BUT NOW! You’re telling me to sacrifice my one and only son?
Makes no sense whatsoever! Seems like a total contradiction of the very character of God – honest, trustworthy, faithful, the One who loves, the One who keeps His promises.
Folks: There was no “but now” on Abraham’s part, no objection, no hint of any sense of betrayal or contradiction!
Abraham responded in faith, as he had ever since the miracle birth of his son Isaac. He doubted God back then, even laughed out loud when God told him that Sarah would give birth to a son! Never again would he take God’s word lightly!
“So” - a little word that denotes how a God-honoring person of faith responds to God’s clear directives - willingly, unhesitatingly, unreservedly trusting God to be true to His character – “Abraham got up . . . early in the morning . . . and set out to go to the place God had told him about.” Now, hasn’t God told you about a place?
Remember when you got up, and set out to go to the place Jesus promised to prepare for all who trust Him! He will be true to His character. He said that He would rise from the dead, and He did. He said that He would go to prepare us a place, and He has. He said that He will come again, and He will.
God said He would provide an heir for making of Abraham’s seed a great nation, and He did. God said He would provide “the lamb for a burnt offering”, and Abraham believed He would. So - no if’s, no and’s, no but’s - Abraham kept going toward the place that God had told him about. Why did he keep going?
Abraham kept going because he trusted God’s purpose, although he did not know exactly why. Through many dangers, toils and snares he had already come. God had been with him all the way, and God would not let him down now.
Abraham kept going because he trusted God’s provision, although he did not know exactly how. Abraham had not known how he and his family would survive such an arduous journey through the desert, but they did. He had not known how he and his wife could possibly birth a child in old age, but they did.
So, why not yet another miracle!? Do it again, Lord!
Abraham kept going because he trusted God’s timing, although he did not know exactly when. Every step of his journey toward the place God had told him about, Abraham must have wondered if he had gone far enough, if God’s provision was just around the next bend in the road – indeed, if there would be any provision at all.
Abraham kept going until he arrived at the designated place, trusting God to provide the Lamb. Not knowing exactly why, how, or when, Abraham trusted God to provide the what. So, he did exactly as God instructed him.
We may not know every little detail about God’s plan, but, by faith, we do exactly as God tells us as best we can . . . get up and go wherever God leads . . . keep on trusting Him, especially as we go through the valley of the shadow of death, as best we can!
However, this man of faith - finding himself in the valley of the shadow - was about to do the unthinkable when “the angel of the LORD” intervened and double spoke to him: “Abraham, Abraham! Do NOT lay a hand on the boy. Do NOT harm him!”
Do you have any idea who “the angel of the LORD” was? Hint: Malachi 3:1 . . . Prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah by using the terminology “the Angel of the Covenant” and “the Angel of the Lord”.
Now hear this: Evidence points to the fact that “the angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament is a reference to the pre-incarnate Christ who would become flesh and blood, and dwell “among us” in the New Testament.
Thus, the Angel who stopped Abraham was the pre-incarnate Christ – as if the Lord Jesus said to this faithful servant, “Abraham, I’ve got this!”
This answers the questions “who, what, when, where, how, why”.
The Father of our Faith, Abraham, experienced a messianic foreshadowing on the mountain in Moriah – at a place named “Jehovah-Jireh” (“to see beforehand God’s provision”). That name was Abraham’s testimony to God’s deliverance!
God fulfilled His promise to Abraham - “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain” - when He sacrificed His one and only Son on a mount called Calvary, so that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Folks: Keep going - always trusting God’s purpose . . . provision . . . timing – and you will arrive at God’s designated place of deliverance!
“Oh, that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me; when by His grace I shall look on His face, that will be glory, be glory for me.” Amen.