Sermon: The LORD will provide

This morning we have the joy and privilege to come to the Lord’s Table. We will come to the feast the LORD has provided, where Jesus Christ will feed us. But before we do, I want to share with you a story from the book that we love. It is Genesis 22, known as the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. But before we hear the Word of the LORD, please take a moment to pray with me.

Father, may your Word be our rule, Your Holy Spirit our teacher, and the glory of Jesus Christ our single concern. Amen.

If you are able, I invite you to stand to hear God’s Word.

Listen closely and listen well, for these are the very words of God:

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham.”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning, Abraham got up and loaded 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 the 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.” Then the two of them went on together.

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. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to Abraham 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.’

The angel of the LORD called out to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Then Abraham returned to his servants and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

Some time later, Abraham was told, ‘Milkah is also a mother. She has borne sons to your brother Nahor: Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor. His concubine, whose name was Reumah also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maakah.

This is the Word of the LORD. Thanks be to God.

This is the last of thirty-five times the LORD speaks to Abraham in Genesis. It is the climax of Abraham’s role in the story. Decades earlier, while Abraham was living in Harran, the LORD called out to him. He told Abraham, then Abram, to get up and go to a place he would show him. Abram left his past, his family, his community, everything, because of the promise God had given him. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. At the beginning, Abram sacrificed his past for the promise. Now, near the end, God calls him to sacrifice the future.

“Abraham”

“Here I am”

“Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac”

Every word in this slow march drives deeper what the LORD is asking of Abraham.

Take your son – after one hundred years of waiting and twenty-five years clinging to the promise, the LORD had given him a son through Sarah. Take this son, the son of the promise, the son of your old age, the son you had hoped for.

your only son – Ishmael, the child of Abraham and Hagar has been driven away and disowned. Abraham has no other children, has no other heir, has no other hope for the God’s promised future to be fulfilled. Take your only hope, your only son.

whom you love – Isaac is the beloved son, the son who not only holds the hope of the future of God’s promise, but who is the apple of his father’s eye and the joy of his heart. Abraham is not asked to take some object or some abstract representation of his future, but the very son he loves.

Isaac – ten times in this chapter, we hear the word ‘son’, showing how deep this trial is for Abraham.

Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.

How can God ask this? How can God ask Abraham to turn the promise into smoke? We know from the first verse that this is a test for Abraham, that God never intended for Isaac to be sacrificed, but Abraham does not know. For Israel, who first heard this story, who descended from Isaac through his son Jacob, they would have seen their own lives, their own future, hanging in the balance. If Isaac dies there is no Jacob, no people called Israel.

What will Abraham do here, at the end? When the LORD has finally blessed him with Isaac, will Abraham still give up everything at the LORD’s Word? And what will the LORD do?

The story slows down in the preparation, but there is no sign of hesitation from Abraham. Early the next morning, Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had finished cutting the wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. Abraham takes the time to load the supplies himself. He cuts the wood himself. Maybe the boy is young and he does not want him to get hurt wielding the axe. Maybe Abraham believes that, in this trial, he must make the preparations himself.

On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to the 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.”

We will come back to you. Abraham and Isaac. The book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. Even if Isaac died, God’s promise – and Isaac along with it – would not be broken.

Abraham places the wood for the sacrifice on Isaac’s shoulders. Isaac is forced to carry the wood upon which he was to be sacrificed up the mountain. Isaac carried a heavy load, but Abraham carried the more dangerous one – the fire and the knife.

As father and son head on together, Isaac speaks up.

“Father?”

“Yes, my son”

“The fire and the 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.”

God himself will provide the lamb.

The story slows again as it reaches its most dramatic and agonizing moments.

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. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to Abraham 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.’

The LORD will provide.

God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.

He took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide” – YHWH Yireh, or as you may have heard it, Jehovah Jireh.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.”

The LORD provided a lamb instead of Isaac, instead of Israel. Isaac lived, while the ram died, consumed and turned to smoke.

The LORD provided the lamb. As the Israelites heard this story, they would ever be reminded of the passover. After nine plagues in Egypt, the LORD instructed Moses to tell the people to take “a lamb without blemish, a year-old male…[They] shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses.” (Exodus 12:5-7). That night the LORD struck down all the sons of Egypt, but he passed over the houses whose doorposts were covered with blood. Saved by the blood of the lamb. The LORD provided a lamb instead of Israel.

The same message rang out in the temple and tabernacle as every day – in the morning and in the evening – a lamb was offered as a burnt offering. A lamb died so that Israel could live.

Day after day, year after year, a lamb died in the place of the people. Until one day, what was seen in shadows on Mount Moriah came in the flesh. What Abraham spoke came true in all its fullness. God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.

John the Baptist stood in the River Jordan and saw Jesus coming down to the water. He cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

As we hear in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” His only Son. His Son, His only Son, whom he loves – Jesus.

The LORD provides a sacrificial lamb so that his people may live. The Lamb is Jesus. Jesus is the New Isaac, the beloved Son, who carried the wood of the cross, the wood of sacrifice, up the mountain of Golgotha, who, instead of being bound to the altar, was nailed to the cross, who, instead of hearing the angel cry ‘don’t do it’ at the last minute, cried out in a loud voice “It is finished.”

Jesus is the New Isaac, the Beloved Son, who was not spared so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life. He is the lamb the LORD provides instead of Isaac, instead of Israel, instead of the church.

Ultimately, Abraham did not sacrifice Isaac, but received him back. The book of Hebrews says he received him back as if from the dead. But the true beloved Son, Jesus Christ, did enter dead, he did offer himself in sacrifice, and did return back from the dead.

The LORD will provide.

God himself will provide the lamb.

The LORD provided redemption for Isaac, a lamb in his place. The LORD provided a lamb in our place, Jesus Christ. God himself provided the lamb for our redemption.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The LORD will provide. The LORD has provided. He did not withhold his own son, but gave him up for us all.

Praise be to God! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This same LORD invites us to come to the table, to come to the feast the LORD has provided. It is a feast of remembrance, communion, and hope. (Meaning of the Sacrament)

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