3 - Creativity in Provision
We have been taking a look at the creativity of God over the past few weeks. We began with the creative work of the creation itself found in . We continued looking at the creativity of God that was found in his plan of redemption and restoration through Abraham and Sarah. Today we are going to look at the creativity of God in how He provides. As we sit here today, there are times when we just cry out to God for provision. That provision may be spiritual, or it may be financial, or it may be for a provision of healing. In today’s scripture we will read of God’s creative provision. I can remember once when Danielle andI were first married and as I’ve told you before we were not real smart when we got married and didn’t realize you had to have money for things like ...food. I can remember a month that we were really concerned on how we old make ends meet. God provided through our landlord who paid me back the majority of our rent for helpin him with his computer. Not only that … this is where it get’s creative. He took a couple of steaks out of his freezer and gave them to us. As a young married couple a couple of T-bone steaks was like the best thing we could even imagine … I think we had been eating nothing but Spaghetti before that. I love to see God’s creativity at work, don’t you? Today’s scripture is one of those cases where God can creatively provide. It’s an odd story, it is a troubling account. But,, the way that God provides in the end is amazing.
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take 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.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
There is a real problem in this story, The problem is not the request of God. The problem is that it was needed because Abraham had tried to do Gocd’s plan. He tried to force God’s hand by having a child with the servant of his wife. Despite God making covenant with Abraham and his wife, Sarah, to have a child. When they forced this plan into action, by not allowing for God’s time, the betrayed that covenant. And yet, in the goodness of God he did not change his plan, a son was given Isaac was born and the promise of God was that this boy would be the one to who the great redemption of God who spring out of. But, first it is time for a test. It is an unimaginable test. After God had promised him a son. After God had confirmed again that he would give Abraham a son. After the realization of that son, was brought into the world. Now, God speaks once again to Abraham. But, this time it is not with a blessing, it is not with good news. No, this time God speaks to Abraham and tells him that this son that he has given to him is now going to be a sacrifice to God. We have to realize that as strange as this sounds to us. As barbaric as this is, it was most likely not an unusual request for a god of the ancient world. Child sacrifice was a somewhat ordinary process in the world of that time, with the tribal worship of gods that was taking place. For us to recognize how barbaric this request sounds to us today should give credence to change that took place in the world through the God of Israel that this would no longer be the norm.
I wonder what it was like that night for this elderly man. There really is no indication of how old Isaac is at this point. I tend to think that he was likely a young boy, able to make this journey and not an infant. I’ve heard traditions that speak to him being around 12, but that is not found in our scripture today. I imagine that this night was a night of wailing and crying and pleading to God for another way.
God is putting Abraham to a test though. See I think there may be an issue here. And that is does Abraham love and worship God for who God is, or does Abraham love and worship God for the things he had given him. Is it the blessings he loves, or is it God he loves. See up to this point the experience that Abraham has had with this God has done nothing but bless Abraham and Sarah. He has made covenant with them that they would be given a new land to live in, he has promised and fulfilled providing them with a Son, and heir, after a long marriage with no children, and he told Abraham that this child’s descendant will bless the whole world. What’s not to love there? Is it God that he loves or is it the things that God has done for him that he loved. This is the test. Would Abraham choose the stuff, or would he choose God.
That night must have been dreadful. Pleading for the life of his child. Do you think he told Sarah?
Here’s the thing, I think we may have this same problem. Do we love God or do we love the things he has done for us. We have to realize that on a worldwide scale we are very blessed people. Even the poorest among us is considered wealthy on the world stage. Would we be as willing to worship God if we literally lost everything. Our home, our jobs, our financial support of any kind. Would we worship God, as we do now, if we lived in Ethiopia on a dollar a day, or in Syria with fear of constant persecution. Would we worship God if the “blessings” ended and we had to give up everything. I encounter people all the time who were faithful worshippers of God until tradegy took place, until the lost a child or a spouse, Until they lost that job or that marriage. The question we have to ask ourselves this morning is do we truly love God, or do we love what He does for us.
This seems to be the question that Abraham is answering with his action. As he took the steps toward going what God has asked him to do. He began loading up the wood, and making the journey up to the spot where the sacrifice would be made. It was a sign that it was God that he loved and worshipped even over the stuff that God had blessed him with. This was his pride and joy, it was the desire of his heart for the entirety of his marriage to Sarah. I imagine that it was the highlight of his life when Sarah gave birth to this heir, his son. Now it is al crashing down and that son would soon be placed on an alter.
But, as he travels to that place of death, I really believe that he was rememberin that promise of God. That through this child he would have more descendants that the stars in the sky. He faithfully believes that God’s promise is true so there has to be another way. He trudges up that mountain waiting for God to provide a way out. After all, god has already done the Amazon, the impossible. Why should he stop doubting that now. He placed his son on the altar, he grabbed the knife.
Can we stop for a second and ask a question here. Umm how do you get over this movement if you are Isaac? I mean really this is the stuff that Psyciatrist make good money because of! Do you think when this is all over Abraham looked at Isaac and said a phrase that I tell my boys a lot “Don’t tell mom.” ?
Anyway back to the story, God does provide, he stops Abraham before the event takes place and provides another means of sacrifice. Abraham has passed the test, his faith in God is not a love for the stuff God has given him, it is a love for all that God is.
As I think of this account, I realize that God’s provision is awesome. And I wonder in our own lives how willing we are to see God’s provision in our lives.