Lent 1, February 21, 2021

Even When Something Is Drastically Wrong, God Provides  Text: Genesis 22:1–18

“Why me?” We have probably all uttered those words at one point or another when we’ve been hit with a seemingly unbearable trial in our lives. It just doesn’t make sense to us. How could this be happening to me? Why is this happening to me? How am I going to get through this? Do these questions sound familiar?

When we read our Old Testament Reading for today, it would seem that Abraham would certainly be justified in asking of God, “Why me?” But in our text we discover that Even as We’re Asking, “Why Me?” God Is at Work in the Midst of Life’s Trials.

  • Three reasons are usually put forth for Abraham’s words to the servants that he and Isaac will return from the mountain together and his response to Isaac that God will provide the lamb for the sacrifice. 
  • He could be telling a lie to conceal what was to happen.
  • He could be speaking a word of prophecy given in the moment. 
  • He could simply be trusting God will keep his promises. Heb 11:17–19.
  • Gospel Handle

V 1: 

  • nisah means to test someone’s quality through hardship. 
  • When nisah refers to testing by God, it concerns obedience. 
  • Luther “[God] does not test in order that we may fear and hate Him like a tyrant but to the end that He may exercise and stir up faith and love in us. Satan, however, tempts for evil, in order to draw you away from God and to make you distrust and blaspheme God” (AE 4:132). 

V 2: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • Make the tie between the sparing of Isaac and the giving up of life by Christ!  Abraham not only knows what God is going to do, but also how he is going to do it!
  • Maybe Abraham has finally got the message that God is in control!
  • Interesting to note that the Hebrew קַח־נָ֠א literally means "PLEASE take..." - it is NOT a command but a "response" from Abraham to do as God "requests".

V 4: 

  • Considering time for preparations on the first day and ascending the mount on the third day, this was the expected time for a hike of about 50 miles.
  • Gospel Handle
  • Abraham "observes" God SEES!
  • Gospel Handle
  • The Israelites were to journey three days into the desert to offer sacrifice (Ex 3:18). An ominous event often took place on the “third day” (Gen 31:22; 34:25; 40:20; 42:18; Ex 19:16; Jonah 1:17; Mt 12:40; 16:11; Jn 2:19; cf. Ex 12:3, 6; 19:11; Lk 23:56–24:1). 
  • Jesus Christ and three days!

V 5: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • Abraham must be alone, as would be Moses on his mountain (Ex 19:1–13) and Christ, forsaken on the cross.
  • Gospel Handle
  • The resurrection was not a surprise to Abraham, even if Isaac dies, God will keep his promise even if he has to raise Isaac back to life!

V 6: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • The loading of wood on to Isaac brings to mind John 10:17 "he went out, bearing his own cross."

V 7: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • This, the only recorded conversation between Abraham and Isaac, begins in the Hebrew with “my father” and ends with “my son.” This partnership of father and son as offeror and victim prophesies that expressed in Is 53:7, 10, and reflects that of the divine Father and Son (Kidner, p. 143).
  • This silence was fulfilled by Jesus (Is 53:7; Mt 26:63; 27:12–14; Lk 23:9; Jn 1:29, 36).
  • Gospel Handle
  • Contrary to many - it is believed that Isaac is in his 30's at this time and not a small child! Like Jesus!

V 8: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham replies, “God will provide (yirǝ’eh) – NOT PROVIDE BUT SEE!! - for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
  • Abraham’s prophetic words point to God himself supplying the only true Lamb who could take away the world’s sin: his own Son. No sacrifice supplied by us humans could accomplish that. God did in fact supply the ram in v 14.
  • Abraham "observes" God SEES!

V 9: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • The knife is in OUR HAND as we plunge it into the hands, feet and side of Jesus on the cross!!!
  • God did not kill His Son - WE DID!!
  • Abraham "observes" God SEES!

V 11: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • “The angel of the LORD” was a pre-incarnate manifestation of God the Son.

V 13: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • Instead - this is the theme to catch!  Jesus died instead of me, rahter than just for me!  If he didn't I would have too!
  • The Father will provide the sacrifice so the father Abraham doesn't!
  • Abraham "observes" God SEES!

V 14: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • Abraham refers to the place where this event occurred as “The Lord will provide SEE!,” 
  • and the text then states that to this day it is said, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided (yera’eh) SEEN!!!.”

V 16: 

  • Gospel Handle
  •  “I swear by myself”—the only time recorded that God did this

V 18: 

  • Gospel Handle
  • Thus in our text one (near) death results in a multiplicity of descendants. Jesus, speaking of his own crucifixion, said that if a seed dies, it bears much fruit (Jn 12:24).
  • Abraham "observes" God SEES!

God is always working his ultimate and loving purposes, even in the midst of life’s tests and trials to accomplish his work in and through his children

Luther provides a succinct explanation of God at work in the life of the person undergoing trials: “Thus St. Peter here compares the gold that is tried by fire to the trial of faith by temptation and suffering. The fire does not make the gold any less, but it does make it pure and bright so that all dross is removed. So God has imposed the cross on all Christians. By it they are cleansed and well purged. As a result, their faith remains pure as the Word is pure, and they depend on the Word alone and trust in nothing else. We need such fire and such a cross daily because of the old, corrupt Adam” (WLS § 4446).

Christians who have endured trials themselves have increased usefulness in relation to others who are undergoing trials. Again, Luther writes: “One Christian who has been tried is worth a hundred who have not been tried, for the blessing of God grows in trials. He who has experienced them can teach, comfort, and advise many in bodily and spiritual matters” (WLS § 4447

So perhaps instead of “Why me?” a more appropriate question might be, “What do you wish to accomplish in me and through me?” May God give us the faith by which he will work in us and through us, especially during those times when we are tempted to ask, “Why me?” Amen.