The story of Abraham’s testing is familiar to most of us, but if we’re honest, it’s also challenging to wrap our minds around. On one hand, we see God making a beautiful covenant with Abraham, in which he promises to make Abraham’s offspring more numerous than the stars in the sky through his son Isaac. Yet later, we also see God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, which would effectively mean breaking the covenant. Nevertheless, we see Abraham mustering every bit of faith he has and moving forward with what God has asked him to do. As the two journey toward the place of sacrifice, Isaac asks Abraham where the lamb for the burnt offering is. Abraham responds by saying that God will provide a lamb, but shortly after that, we see Issac being bound and placed on the altar…and still no lamb. It’s hard to imagine what must have been going through Abraham’s mind at this point, but I can envision him being tempted to cry out to God, “How could you ask me to do this? Do you not know the heartbreak I feel? Do you not know what carrying out your plan will mean?” Nonetheless, we see Abraham reaching for his knife to do exactly what God asked of him.
But then God… provides a ram in the thicket caught by his horns to be the sacrifice. God proves that he is faithful. Abraham then names the hill where these events take place The Lord Will Provide as a reminder of God’s great faithfulness.
Now let’s fast forward to a hill called Golgotha, where we find Jesus hanging on the cross with his mother Mary at the foot of that cross. As Mary watches in horror while her son slowly dies an excruciating and unimaginable death, I can imagine her being overcome with grief and wanting to cry out to God, “Why? How could you let this happen? This can’t be your plan…it just can’t be!” Jesus takes his last breath. The curtain in the temple is torn. The earth trembles. And all seems utterly lost.
But then God… once again shows his faithfulness when three days later Jesus is raised from the dead. Jesus has become the substitutionary sacrifice that will end all sacrifices. God actually did with his own Son what he only asked Abraham to be willing to do, and through that, people now have a direct connection to God through Jesus.
How about you? Are you in the middle of your own season of asking God things like How could you ask me to do this? or How could you allow this to happen? If so, what might happen if you were willing to trust God and bring your circumstances to the altar? What might your But then God… story be?