Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 7: Abraham and Isaac – Genesis 22

Some time later God tested Abraham. God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 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.” 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. 10 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. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

That Abraham had faith even to trust God to raise Isaac following his sacrifice we know from Hebrews chapter 11. This chapter of Hebrews begins with a definition of faith: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In verses 17-19, the author of Hebrews goes on to describe the testing of Abraham:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

Though he could not have known exactly how, Abraham trusted the Lord to provide. His trust, however, also bound him to his Lord’s command, for by the Lord alone could any and all blessing be found. This command required of Abraham to exact a complete offering from his God-given son. A complete offering meant nothing less than the draining of blood and outright butchery of his beloved son, Isaac. Resurrection would spare them no moment of sacrifice.

How could love demand such a cost? God knew this to be the precise cost of love’s demand. Abraham willingly offered his only son, and as Isaac willingly submitted to his father’s will. Just so, God our Father offered His only Son, and so also Jesus willingly submitted to His Father’s will. Likewise, just as God spared Isaac, and all Israel with him, by providing a ram to be sacrificed in his stead, so God also spares His Church, providing a Lamb as sacrifice for all mankind.
-Nathan Neugebauer

O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the4 wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved
Collect for Lent 1 Series B – Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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