Would you have ever believed that we would have been in the situation we are in today? Our nation is in a mess – everybody seems to be protesting something. Pro-Trump. Anti-Trump. We love refugees. We hate refugees. Even among Southern Baptists, we can’t agree on which direction we should go which, of course, is the norm for Southern Baptists. Who would have ever thought we would be in the situation we are in today? Fear grips us. Uncertainty reigns. These statements ring true even in our churches, so I wanted to remind you of a few things. God is good. God is faithful. Jeremiah said in Lam. 3:22-23, “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” Hebrews 13:5 reads, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And I especially love what the Lord said to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chr. 20:17, “Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”
Do you know what this means? If God isn’t afraid, there is no need for us to be afraid. If God has promised us a plan to prosper and not harm us, there is no need for us to be afraid. And once again I am reminded that where God guides, He provides. Always and forever. So as we have been journeying through the great stories of the Bible as lead by Asaph in Psalm 78, understanding that we learn so very much by teaching our children and our children’s children, and our children’s children’s children, and their children about the failures of our spiritual ancestors, we may fall down, but in this great story of grace that we call the Christian life, we have the choice. We can get back up and get on the path again, or we can continue to wallow in the muck and mire of unforgiveness, bitterness, and strife. We can keep fighting and living in the misery of the past, or we can allow the Holy Spirit to wash us clean and set our feet on the solid rock of Jesus Christ as we walk in the Light of His Love, cleansed and holy. It’s our choice, and this week’s story tells us how we make that choice. First, Knowing God is the Key to our Future.
Look at the life of Abraham. You remember the story, I’m sure. God called Abraham at the age of 75 to leave everything: his home in Ur of the Chaldees, his family, his life. He told Abraham that He would send him to the Promised Land, but God didn’t tell Abraham where that would be. So what did Abraham do? He believed God’s promise that he would be the father of a great nation. And according to Heb. 11:12, when Abraham was “as good as dead” at the ripe old age of 100, Isaac was born.
When the long-awaited son of promise was a young boy, maybe a teenager, or as some Bible scholars claim, a young adult, God tested Abraham’s faith by saying in Genesis 22:2, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” How could God ask such a thing? And even worse, at least in our minds, how could Abraham follow through with it? Let me tell you how. When you know God, you trust God. God could ask this of Abraham because He knew what was going to happen, and Abraham could be obedient to God because He knew God. In Heb. 11:19, we find out something amazing about Abraham. He had come to the conclusion that if God asked him to kill his son as a sacrifice, that “God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” So trusting in the provision of God, they “rose early in the morning” and set off for the distant mountain.
When they drew near, Abraham left the servants behind, put the wood for the sacrifice on Isaac’s back, and took a torch and a knife in his own hand and started up the mountain. Vv. 7-8 are pivotal in this story. Isaac asked his father a question, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide for Himself a lamb.” Do you see it? When you know God, you trust Him to provide.
When Abraham built the altar, bound his son and prepared to offer him up as a sacrifice, he did it trusting God to provide. And at the last minute, God stayed Abraham’s hand. Look at what God says. “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.” And suddenly, when Abraham looked, there was a ram caught in the thicket by its horns, so he offered the ram to God instead of his son Isaac, and he called the place “Yahweh Yireh,” “The Lord will provide.” We need to understand this: When you trust God to provide, He does.
Abraham could be obedient to God even when God’s commands didn’t seem to make sense because he believed God more than anything else in this life. He knew God, and that meant God would provide for Himself the Lamb. Abraham needed a sacrifice, and he had finally learned. (To Be Continued)