“The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11
There are many great, deep theological truths packed into the story of the Lord asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac – about how Isaac was offered up as a sacrifice as a preview of what was to come when God’s Son, Jesus, would be offered up as the final sacrifice for all mankind. About how the ram was caught in the thicket, a substitute for Isaac, just as Jesus became our substitute when He died on the cross as payment for our sins. About how Abraham remembered and believed God’s promise to him – that he would have a son and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, even if it required the Lord raising Isaac from the dead. About how the ram’s horns were caught in a thicket, and sinless, compassionate Jesus wore a thorny crown about His head as He became the sacrificial Lamb of God. There are many more, the depths of which humanity can only try to fully comprehend. What is on my mind most right now, though, is Abraham as a father.
Abraham was told many years before Isaac was born that he would have a son, and although he believed God, 25 years had passed between the promise and the fulfillment. Abraham finally had the son he had longed for, the son of the Promise. Now he was being asked to give him up? His only son?
For the last few days, I’ve come across this particular verse several times: He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Genesis 22:13
Is there something you’re holding onto with all your might? You’re afraid to let go, afraid it will slip out of your grasp, and out of your life? May I encourage you to hold it up as an offering, palms up, no holding back? I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to keep this thing, this person, whatever it is, but I can tell you that there is freedom in giving it up.
Sometimes the Lord will let you keep it. When I separated from my husband, our youngest child was seven. At that time, it wasn’t clear whether he would stay with his father or with me. It was already a very difficult time, and the thought of being away from my son, too, was almost more than I could bear. Finally, it came to the point where I had to just put the situation in the Lord’s hands and give my son to God – palms up, no holding back. I had to trust that God would do whatever was best for him, even if the best wasn’t me. The Lord was gracious, and allowed him to live with me for five years.
Sometimes the Lord will not let you keep it. Recently, I had to do that again. It was a little easier this time, because my relationship with the Lord is stronger than it was then, but it was still difficult, and I still cried a lot – not because I didn’t trust the Lord, but because I knew I would miss him so much. Sometimes I still cry, but the Lord is gracious now, too, even though my son is living in another country with his father. He is learning things that he would not have learned here with me, and experiencing the joy of being with his dad.
Whatever His answer, God is good, and He is faithful, and He comforts us and provides for us. He is our exceedingly great reward. He heals our hearts, and fills our lives with good things. He honors our sacrifices and fills the empty spaces. His ways are not our ways, but His ways are good.
Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14