Frame of reference: There was a man who lived long ago by the name of Abram. He believed in God and God promised to make him great, to be father of a great nation. God also asked him to do some difficult things, like leave his homeland (most of his family went with him), and live as a foreigner in a land that God promised to give his descendants. God made a covenant with Abram, a step up from a promise, and as a sign of that covenant, changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abraham and his wife Sarah couldn’t have kids. But God had promised to bless them, and make Abraham the father of a great nation. Have to have kids to make that promise come true. They thought they could make it happen using Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant. Since God had promised, Hagar’s descendants also became a mighty nation, but not the nation God intended. That thinking that they could solve their problem themselves is still causing trouble today. God’s promise to Abraham finally came true when Sarah had a son when she was 90 years old, something only God could have done. They named him Isaac “laughter” because they laughed when God said that within a year, Sarah would have a son. Isaac was the child of promise, the one God had been talking about for a very long time. Was he perfect? Very much no. Did Abraham and Sarah love him? Oh yes.
Then God told Abraham to take Isaac to a place called Mount Moriah and sacrifice him on an altar there. It was a three day trip from where they were living at the time. I wonder what was going through Abraham’s mind on that trip:
How could God be asking me to do this?
But Isaac is the one God promised to give us.
Was God wrong? Did He really mean Ishmael (Abraham’s son with Hagar) would be the son of promise? But I sent him away.
Is Isaac more important to me than God?
Finally I believe Abraham’s thoughts might have gone something like this: “God promised. God will provide.” Although he might have thought that right away. The Bible says Abraham was a man of great faith.
Abraham and Isaac reached the mountain, climbed it, Abraham giving assurances to his precious son that God would provide the lamb for the sacrifice they were obviously going to make, given what they were carrying.
Then Abraham tied Isaac up, and put him on the altar they had made together. I wonder if Abraham cried. I wonder if he touched the cheek of his son and told him he loved him one last time. The Bible says that “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.”
Those of you who know this story know what happened next.
But what if it hadn’t? What if God didn’t send an angel to stop Abraham. What if God didn’t provide an alternative sacrifice? Would God have still been good? Yes. Would God still have kept His promises? Yes. Did Abraham know while he was climbing the mountain, building the altar, tying his son up, and reaching for the knife that God would provide? Yes. Did Abraham know the details? No. That’s faith.
“Now faith is being certain of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
I don’t feel like I have much faith. I feel broken and sad, drained and useless. This morning God asked me to climb the mountain, build an altar, tie up my dreams, and raise the knife. Then He let it fall. I severed all ties and contact with Trent this morning. I am grieving for the best human friend I have ever had.
Is God still good? Yes. Will God provide? Yes.