Following instructions is very important, especially during a test. At times our preconceived notions of how things should go prevent us from giving due regard to the instructions.
If this was your test, what score would you receive?
It wasn’t a hard test by any stretch of the imagination but the results would be telling, for sure!
Imagine students running around the classroom yelling, or the looks of panic from students who just aren’t sure what to do, and the students who followed the directions now smugly watching the chaos.
I wonder what it is like to be the teacher watching the room full of students during that test… hearing the students shout out things they never needed to say (“Broccoli, broccoli, broccoli!”)…. Watching students complete silly tasks they never needed to do (Stand up and hop on one foot and call out loud “GO, GO, GO”!)… observing students nervously looking around trying to decide what was right to do… catching the smile in the eyes of a student who knew what was really happening…
Today’s scripture reading in Genesis was a test of a VERY different nature. This test has to be one of the hardest and most difficult to fathom. Yet, I wonder what it looked like from each person’s perspective: Abraham who followed all the directions, Isaac who didn’t know where this was going, and God who knew how it would all work out.
Then God 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.”Genesis 22: 2
How could God have asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? It doesn’t make sense! What earthy reason could there be for God to have required that abhorrent action? And (if in the middle of those thoughts) we could stop and see each step of faith on Abraham’s part as he walked up that mountain with his son to the place of sacrifice… then it would be a story that tears your heart into pieces.
And a torn heart is exactly what we should find.
The torn heart of a father… the torn heart of a son… the torn heart of all humanity as we want to scream *STOP* this can’t be the way this story goes… there *HAS* to be another way. And there is another way.
“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”Genesis 22:7-13
God provides the sacrificial ram because He always planned for the Lamb.
Here we see the heart-wrenching choice of a father that foreshadows the unimaginable choice of the Father and the obedience of the Son because of God’s righteousness and His true character as a covenant-keeper. As God entered covenant with Abram (Genesis 15) who was put into a deep sleep, God walked through the center of the covenantal symbols because He guaranteed that even when Abram (and all humanity) would not/ could not uphold the covenant, God would fulfill the covenant price.
And Abraham’s words in Genesis 22, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” Those words become some of the most profoundly prophetic utterances… because God himself does provide the lamb… His only son. He did not spare His own Son (Romans 8:32) to freely give us all things.
And here I am again in the wonder of it all…