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Did or Will?

Past and future. Both can impact our lives. Things we’ve done or experienced shape us. The anticipation of what might be can influence how we act and think today. We’re called to live in the present because the past can’t be changed and the future is unknown. We can learn from what has been, and it may even help us face what’s ahead. But just because someone was faithful before, doesn’t guarantee they’ll come through for us again. A strategy that got us out of trouble yesterday may not apply to tomorrow’s issues. If only we could be certain that something that did work will work again. Is such assurance possible?

Genesis 22 is a solemn chapter of the Bible. It’s where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. This would be a horrifying command under any circumstances, but there was so much more going on here. When Abraham was seventy-five, God told him He would make him into a great nation (Gen 12:1-4). But there were some problems: Abraham had no children, he was old, and his wife Sarah was barren. Twenty-five years later, Sarah gives birth to Isaac: the son of laughter. The son through whom God’s promise to Abraham would be fulfilled. And now he was to be sacrificed, killed by his own father?

From the first verse, we know this was a test (Gen 22:1). Abraham didn’t. Yet he immediately obeyed God and took Isaac to Mount Moriah. Since Isaac was about thirteen, he was old enough to wonder what was going on. Genesis 22:7: And Isaac said to his father Abraham… "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" How would Abraham respond? What could he possibly say? Genesis 22:8 tells us: …"God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." (ESV)

Was this a declaration of faith, or just wishful thinking? The writer of Hebrews tells us: 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… (Heb 11:17-19 ESV). One way or another, he was sure the Lord would provide.

Abraham ceremonially bound his son and placed Isaac on the altar. As he raised the knife to slay him, and angel called out from heaven: Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (Gen 22:12). Abraham looked up and there was a ram caught in a thicket which he sacrificed instead of Isaac.

Pretty powerful account, but what does it have to do with the past being a reliable indicator of the future? The answer is found in Genesis 22:14: So Abraham called the name of that place, "The Lord will provide"… (ESV). That’s interesting since it doesn’t accurately reflect what happened on that mountain. God did provide a sacrifice – past tense. It happened before Abraham chose a name for that spot. Why didn’t he just call it the Lord provided? Because it wasn’t about God’s actions as much as His character. He is faithful can cannot be otherwise (II Tim 2:13). Every promise He has made is “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ (II Cor 1:20). The name Abraham chose reflected this truth: Because the Lord did provide, we know He will provide. Let’s hold onto it as we face today, tomorrow, and whatever lies ahead.

Something that greatly encourages me along the way.

copyright © 2019 Kimberly Coles Kirk. All rights reserved.

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