This is part two so that means you need to go back and read part one if you haven’t already done so. Otherwise, this might not make a whole lot of sense. We’re talking about overcoming fear. Some people are chronically afraid. Some people worry. Some people just haven’t learned to trust God like they should. So just to remind you of what I you read in part one, here is the outline:
Knowing God is the Key to our Future.
When you know God, you trust God.
When you know God, you trust Him to provide.
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. He hadn’t always known. Remember those early years as he and Sarai had traveled through Egypt. “Tell everyone you are my sister so they won’t kill me,” Abraham said. Sure enough, Pharaoh took Sarai for himself, but God protected her and provided for Abraham. And he did it again with the King of Gerar, and God provided again. When told they would have a son, they doubted his promise, but God provided again because even when we are not faithful, God always is. We fall down, but by His grace, we can get up if we so choose. That’s what we have been talking about as we have shared these stories, isn’t it? Because Knowing Our Stories is the Key to our Confidence. Knowing our stories is what reminds us that it is our choice to get up every time we fall down.
You see, the essence of faith is trusting in the provision of God. God was not afraid, so Abraham was not afraid. As believers in Christ, as Christian families, as a church, we must trust God to provide always remembering that God provides for all our needs. Listen. Let me let you in on a little secret. God’s people have always had needs. You see it in all of the great stories of the Bible. Isaac needed a wife. Jacob needed food. Moses needed a parted sea. Joshua needed a victory. Samson needed strength. Ruth needed a home. David needed a prophet. Solomon needed wisdom. Nehemiah needed workers. Daniel needed protection. Ezekiel needed a vision. Peter needed faith. Saul needed a blinding light. John needed a revelation. And we needed a Savior. And God provided them all. This story of God’s provision of the ram shows us the truth. For Abraham, the future was now.
Want to know the truth? God always provides for the needs of His people. In our lives today, there are many needs, and God is acutely aware of our needs. None of our needs surprises God. He has not been toppled from His throne. He is not wringing His divine hands in worry. He is not overcome by anxiety. On the contrary, God is absolutely in control. Do you remember what Jesus said in Mt. 6:26? “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” God knows you need money. He knows you need rest. He knows you need peace. God knows, and He is intimately involved. Think back over your life as a Christian. Has there ever been a need that God has not met? Has there ever been a time when He was unfaithful? The answer to those questions is, “NO!”
As Abraham climbed Mt. Moriah, surely he remembered God’s faithful provision. He remembered that God gave him land when he needed land. He remembered when God gave him a son in his old age. Romans 4:3 says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And know this. God has not changed. He who was faithful in the past will supply our needs today. The question is, “Do we trust Him?”
Here is the key to God’s provision. God provides through our obedience. Look back at verse 1 for a minute. “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham….” Now hear me. God tests our faith just like He did with Abraham. Ps. 11:5 says, “The Lord tests the righteous.” Ps. 17:3 says, “You have tested my heart.” Jer. 17:10 says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind….” Job said, “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10). 1 Peter 1:7 says that our faith is tested by fire.
If there is one truth that we need to get through our thick skulls it is this: God tests our faith today — not because He doesn’t know us. Not because He isn’t sure how strong we are. No. God tests our faith to show US how strong WE are. Or how weak we are. What did God want from Abraham? The faith to obey. What does God want from us? The faith to obey. And when we walk in obedience to God, we pass the test.
God provides at just the right time. Listen to me. Our timing is not always God’s timing. I love the scene from our text where the old man, Abraham, and his son, Isaac, hike up the mountain, and Isaac asks about the sacrifice. Abraham says, God will provide. I have to tell you, I love this story, but I have a major problem with it. I love the story because I know the outcome, but I have a problem because I don’t like God’s timing. I know. Who am I to question God’s timing? But admit it – you are just like me. When troubles come, you want God’s help when it starts, don’t you? You don’t want it somewhere in the middle, do you? Or after it’s over? So often we are anxious for God to act now. Have you ever prayed that famous prayer, “God, give me patience and give it to me now!” That’s me, but God’s timing is always perfect. Nobody likes to be tested, but if He removed the test at the beginning, we would learn nothing about ourselves. If He took us out of the fire too soon, we would never be purified and refined. Instead, He leaves us there and He makes us a promise. He tells us, “though you walk through the fires, you will not be burned.”
When the altar was built, the wood laid out and the son bound up, Abraham raised his knife in faith. I have a vivid picture of that scene in my mind. The man of faith so trusted God that he would have plunged the knife into his promised son’s heart. But look at vs. 11. At just the perfect time, “the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven.” God wasn’t early. He didn’t stop Abraham when they arrived at the top of the mountain. God wasn’t late. He didn’t call to Abraham as the boy lay dying. God was right on time.