Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us. Amen.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 3Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled 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. 4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5He 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.” 6Abraham 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, 7Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. 9When 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. 10Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12“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.” 13Abraham 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. 14So 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.”
What a trip it must have been! Abraham and Isaac on a mission from God, a father – son adventure. At the same time a huge struggle putting Abraham’s well-known faith to the test. Then comes the question, the question Abraham didn’t want to even think about. “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Then, by the grace of God, that strong and steadfast faith glimmers through the darkness – “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews comments: “By faith, Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” God did provide on his mountain. God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. The test was over, but the worship was not. God provided a ram caught in the thicket by its horns as the burnt offering. Wow! What a great story of trust in the Lord and of how the Lord provides without fail! But, friends, there is more to this story. It is all centered on the promise of God to send a Savior. As God provided for Abraham, God has provided for each of us. So tonight we are comforted by the reminder: The Lord has provided!
Last Wednesday we set out on a godly journey as we once again entered the season of Lent. On this journey there are things that we don’t always understand, there are things that challenge our faith, there are things that cause us pain, there are things that we would rather not talk about, but through it all we say, “The Lord has provided.” You see we are traveling to the same place that Abraham and Isaac traveled to. This amazing scene of Abraham and Isaac took place on Mount Moriah, the same mountain on which the city of Jerusalem later was built. We follow Jesus as he sojourns to the same place, to Jerusalem to meet his death for sinners. We often wonder why? Of course, we know the answer – sin. For us and our salvation, because of our rebellion, our disobedience Jesus went to his death. The Lord has provided the solution to our sin – his Son!
This whole thing was no test for God. He loved this world full of sinners so much that he sent his One and Only Son to die on the cross, so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. The Lord has provided a sacrifice for you. The truth is that sin, your sin and my sin, is so serious, so vile that we could not pay for it. Only the perfect sacrifice that the Lord would provide in Jesus could pay the price. So when we look to the cross we see Jesus – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is our sacrifice for sin. He has paid the price once for all. Yes, Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the world. The Lord has provided a perfect sacrifice for us!
But that is not the only thing we see in this powerful story of the Lord putting Abraham’s trust in him to the test. We see and learn an important truth of Scripture – the concept of substitution. The Lord has provided a substitute for you.
Where do we see Jesus in this account? We clearly find him directly involved in all this as the “Angel of the Lord,” who stopped Abraham from harming Isaac. Of course, the account is about Jesus as the promised seed of Abraham. Later, in verse 18, Moses writes, “and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed …” Paul comments on this in his letter to the Galatians, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.” Then there is also a picture of Christ or at least something that causes us to see Christ here in a way. We see that ram caught by the horns in the thicket. That is the sacrificial lamb that takes the place of Isaac. Jesus certainly has served us in this way. It should have been us going to death. It should have been us suffering the hell of being forsaken by God. It should have been us dying a shameful death. But Jesus took our place. He was sacrificed for us. Some in the history of the church have seen that ram caught in the thicket as a picture pointing to Christ in his crown of thorns. We dare not press that point too far. But suffice it to say that Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away our sin. The Lord has provided.
When sin troubles you or guilt eats away at you recall that the Lord has provided for you. He has shed his blood to forgive your sin and wash away your guilt. When you wonder if your God knows who you are or what is happening to you or if he even cares – look to the cross. It says beyond a shadow of a doubt – God loves you! When Satan suggests you are not worthy, you are too evil, you have sinned too greatly or too often know he lies, for Jesus has provided for you – forgiveness and life. When life throws such difficulty at you that you don’t think you can make it – recall the words of Abraham to Isaac, words that are always true for God’s people – The Lord will provide!
At the end of all the testing and trial and terror and trouble God repeats his promise – I will surely bless you. God has kept that promise. Jesus came. Jesus lived perfectly for us. Jesus died for us. Heaven is our home. Yes, friends look again – Behold, the Lamb of God! He has taken away all your sins! Go in peace and live for him! Amen.