In a life full of amazing events, this may have been the most significant for Abraham.
Abraham was 100 years old when his wife, Sarah, gave birth to their first-born son. They named him “Isaac,” meaning laughter. And the boy surely brought laughter into their lives. We can picture the joy he felt as he bounced Isaac on his knee. Or trying to keep up with him as he ran from place to place. (Both would have been quite a feat for such an old man!) Abraham loved Isaac and was proud of him. Most importantly, though, Abraham placed his spiritual hopes in his son. Before Isaac’s conception, God had told Abraham: “I will establish My covenant with him [Isaac] for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him” (Genesis 17:19, NKJV).
You can imagine, then, how shocked, dismayed, and broken Abraham must have felt when God came to him, and in a voice as clear as any he had ever heard, told him: “Take now 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, NKJV). What would Abraham do? This was the hardest test he had ever faced.
- His faith was tested. Did he really believe that God was for him?
- His hope was tested. If Isaac died, how could God keep His promises to Abraham?
- His love was tested. Genesis 22:2 is the first time the word love appears in the Bible. Did Abraham love God more than he loved his son?
We know that Abraham passed the test. He obediently arose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and brought Isaac to the mountain. He trustingly told his son, “God will provide for Himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8), as the two of them went to the place where Abraham built the altar. He tied up his son, laid him on the altar, and took his knife to slaughter his son.
And then, God provided! The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:12, NKJV).
Abraham looked to see a ram, caught by its horns in the bushes. He took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
Following that test, God revealed Himself to Abraham in a new way. The Bible says:
And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide (Genesis 22:14, NKJV)
In Hebrew, the words are “Yahweh Jireh,” or “Jehovah Jireh.” This name of God shows us that God provides.
Consider a few lessons from Abraham’s story:
- God provided in the middle of a great test.
- God provided in an unexpected way.
- God provided just in time.
- God provided in response to radical faith and obedience.
In the same way, when you place your faith in God in the tests and trials of your life, He can work in ways you will never imagine to provide just what you need, just when you need it! And, just as the ram was God’s provision for Isaac, Jesus is God’s provisio