The Lord Will Provide

Let me say, when this reading came up as the one for today, I was dismayed. I’ve never liked this story. What was God doing asking Abraham to sacrifice his son? What sort of God is this? Human sacrifice? A child? I mean, what if when with knife raised he hadn’t heard God then, or had ignored the voice? It’d be God’s fault.

 I’ve been studying this passage for a few weeks, praying that God would give me some insight. And traditionally this passage speaks to people about obedience. Abraham showed the ultimate devotion to God, the ultimate act of obedience. This son that he had waited for, for so long, this improbable birth of an heir in his old age. To be willing to give that up, gee, he must be devoted to God.

 And yes, that is a message that could be taken from this story.

 I read one commentator saying that Abraham viewed Isaac as a gift from God anyway, and that he was only giving back to God what God had deigned to give Abraham in the first place, and that we should be willing to give back to God the good gifts he bestows upon yes.

And yes, that is a message that could be taken from this story.

 Another said that Isaac may have become an idol, and taken first place in Abraham’s life ahead of God. And that God will always call us to get rid of idols and only when God took first place was he happy.

 And yes, that is a message that could be taken from this story.

 But as I read the story, and re-read the story, two verses stood out for me. So maybe this is God’s message just for me, but can I share it with you all tonight? Cause maybe it’s a message for one of you. Or maybe for all of us? Who knows?

 Here’s the verses – number 8 & number 14.

 As Abe is walking along with his son, this sharp little fella notices that they’ve brought the wood, they’ve brought the fire, but there ain’t no lamb. Old man, you senile old thing, you’ve forgotten the lamb. But he puts it nicely – “Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

 And dad responds – God will provide a lamb, my son.

 I wonder…..

 Was this a throwaway line to quell the thoughts of an inquisitive boy?

 We all do it – one of the kids asks you a question, and you may not have an answer, but you come up with something to keep them quiet. Done that?

 Usually works, except if you have a son like Zach who analyses each answer and keeps bombarding you with questions until everything makes sense!!

 God will provide a lamb, my son. So – a throwaway line, or do you reckon Abraham really believed that?

 You’d know that much of the Old Testament is written without emotion. In this story, Abraham just gets a message and off he goes. We don’t have any anguish recorded, any mention that his thoughts were in turmoil, no record of any dispute with the wife, any tears, any distress. Abraham just up and saddles the donkey, chops some wood, organised the servants, packs for the trip and takes off.

 But maybe, as Abraham responded and set off, he actually had faith that God would provide. Maybe he meant it. Don’t worry Isaac. I know God. He’s testing me, but I know that he doesn’t want me to kill you. God always comes through. God always provides. When we get there, we’ll find that God has got something planned. God will provide a lamb my son. God will provide. And they both went on together.

 Maybe Abraham embarked on this trip not full of fear or distress, but full of faith?

 Now if my little version of events were true, you could then imagine a very nervous Abraham arriving and building an altar. You can imagine the second-guessing as he ties Isaac on to the altar. You can imagine the terror as he lifts the knife.

 Or – was his faith that strong that he always believed that God would provide? Did he just back it in that it’s often at the very last minute, at the crisis point, just in the nick of time that God intervenes and provides?

 I wonder…

 Abraham hears the angel of the Lord shouting Abraham! Abraham!

 He sees the ram caught in the bush, and the unlucky ram becomes the sacrifice.

 And surprise, surprise – what does Abraham name the place? Did he call it “God tested me and I passed?” Did he call it “God must be obeyed?” Did he call it “I almost killed my son until a miracle happened?” Was it called “The Great Escape?”

 Abraham named the place, “The Lord Will Provide”. And it sounds like this became a mantra for Abraham, because it became a proverb, a well-known saying – On The Mountain of the Lord it will be provided.

 Have you discovered this in your life – the Lord will provide?

 I have in mine.

 There was an occasion quite a few years back, when we were running our own business, things were tight, we couldn’t draw a wage, struggling with mortgage payments and the general expenses of life, bills to pay, and absolutely nothing in the bank, no money whatsoever. And anonymously, mysteriously, money appeared in our bank account. Don’t know who, don’t know how, but at that last minute, bang – the Lord provided.

 Many times since, we’ve had occasion to think, gee we’re stuck here, we can’t pay for this or we can’t do such and such, and money appears. And I remember – the Lord will provide.

 But it’s not only money, sometimes it’s ideas. What will I say? What can we do? And just in time an idea pops into my head. And I remember – the Lord will provide.

 Sometimes it’s time – I think, there is no way I have enough time to get such and such done, and bang, it gets done. I think, how did I do that, and I remember – the Lord will provide.

 Sometimes it’s strength. Didn’t know how I could handle a crisis or grief, but peace comes, strength comes, and I remember – the Lord will provide.

 I can remember a time a while back, sitting in a foyer, waiting to meet with someone quite powerful who wanted a piece of me. I was scared, I was praying my little heart out. And as I walked out at the end of the meeting I thought, gee that went alright. Wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And I remembered – the Lord will provide.

 Now, with so many of these things having happened, I can live a life of faith. Not quite to Abraham’s extent, but there’s not too much to worry about in life if you firmly believe that no matter what happens, if we are following Jesus and faithful and obedient to God, that in any and every situation – the Lord will provide. You can sort of feel almost invincible. It’s OK - the Lord will provide.

 Dr Stanley Jones once wrote a book called “The Way”, 365 short chapters designed to be read one a day on how God guides us and looks after us. He told a story some years later that had been relayed back to him about a young man who had been given the book by a relative when he graduated from university, hoping it might help him in life, but he’d put it on the shelf of his bookcase and never read it.

 Although he shifted house many times over the years, it always got put on the shelf never opened, never read. Then came a time in his life where everything went bad. His marriage was broken, his business was ruined, and he felt such shame he wanted to end his own life. He emptied out a whole bottle of tablets, but they were too dry to swallow. He needed water. And on his way to the bathroom he skidded on a mat and fell to the floor, bumping against the bookcase. A book fell down, hit him and fell open at his feet. He looked at it. It was Jones’ book ‘The Way’, and it had opened up at a page which said, “You can get up from where you are now, for God has a future for you.’

 The man later wrote to Dr Jones, saying, “I sat down on the mat and read the book through entirely and I threw away the tablets and started a brand new life.”

 The Lord will provide.

 Abraham, with knife raised in the air, poised to kill the thing most precious to him in his whole life, heard that same message – put the knife down, God has a future for you and your son. In that moment of crisis, in that moment of despair, The Lord provided.

 I don’t know what you may be facing at the moment. I don’t what the crisis might be in your life, whether it’s financial or family or health or business.

 But know this. Know this!!!! The Lord will provide!!!!

 I don’t know what God may be calling you to right now. But have faith in this – the Lord will provide.

 Jesus reinforced the message – Your Father knows exactly what you need, he told us. God cares about us. Jesus told us not to worry because God will provide for our needs. Not our wants. But most definitely our needs.

 In Philippians 4: 19, famous words of Paul – And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

 I want you each to walk away from here tonight knowing this – the Lord will Provide.

 I hope you’ll have sufficient faith in God, and sufficient obedience to God, that you will live confidently this week, afraid or nothing or no one, worried about nothing or no one, carrying within your heart this assurance that was Abraham’s too thousands of years ago – the Lord will provide.

 I trust that you will face the world and face whatever challenge gets thrown at you and you’ll face all your troubles with your chest out and your chin up and a heart full of faith, knowing that if you’re obedient and faithful, that The Lord Will Provide.


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Sunday Feb 9th at 5pm

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