Abram packed his belongings, and with his wife Sarai, their nephew Lot, and servants, they left Ur of the Chaldees and set their tent toward the land of Canaan. It was in this foreign land that Abram, later renamed Abraham by God, faced the greatest challenge of his life. Having waited for a lifetime for the promised son to be born, having struggled and contrived, he failed to find the will of God through the birth of Ishmael. Abraham and Sarah in their old age experienced a miracle when Isaac was born. Then one day God spoke and Abraham was told to offer up Isaac as a burnt sacrifice. Christian, learn the greatest lesson of the Christian walk. Learn today what it means to give up the most precious thing in your life as you walk in obedience to will of God.
by Jerry Gentry
That day was a fateful one, when "Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him" (Gen 22:3)
It is an ultimate trial of a lifetime for Abraham, who is well over one hundred years old now. He kissed Sarah goodbye, and left his dwelling near Beersheba before daybreak, with no word to anyone concerning his true mission. He has now travelled the three days journey from Beersheba, north to "the land of Moriah." He has walked and talked throughout the way with his son Isaac, who is now perhaps an older teenage boy, nearing adulthood.
Every word, every touch of his son's hand, every laughter, every expression, has tugged at his heartstrings, as three times the sun has broken the dull morning haze from off to their right side, and shattered the morning twilight with its piercing rays. Twice they have unloaded and secured the pack animal, then bedded down for the night. Abraham and Isaac prayed together and talked of God and his greatness, as they looked up and noted how "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1). As Abraham spoke quietly to his son, Isaac twice dozed off into a deep slumber in the nightfall, as he had often done before. These two nights were different for Abraham, however. There were many thoughts flooding through his mind, but little sleep. Awareness of the job yet ahead sent tremors of emotional heartbreak through his bowels. The shock and crisis caused by God's clear instruction on the first day has now turned into the slow burial of a life vision during that journey. Something inside of Abraham has died now, as he feels the pain of internal convulsions throughout his being.
Upon rising each morning, Abraham notes his son's smile and muscular frame, how he quickly responds and readies the pack animal for the continuing journey, which for Abraham was coming to an end all too soon. He would have gladly travelled a thousand miles on this particularly trip.
"Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off" (v. 4).
A shot of adrenaline sends Abraham's bowels into another shudder of anxiety, but he quickly prays and gets hold of himself. Never does he doubt what has to be done. Never does he waver in his resolve to carry out his mission. In his heart he knows that the sacrifice must be made. Death has come to his vision, and it is now buried as he has yielded to God's will. As they approach the very mount of the LORD, Abraham gives his last instructions to the servants.
"And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you" (v. 5).
With his bowels groaning inside, while experiencing all the pain of a loving father about to kill his own son, he leads Isaac up that mountain called Moriah, which means "shown or provided by the LORD," and likely is the very place on which Solomon's temple would later be built. Time is now racing ahead for Abraham, all too rapidly. Minutes pass like mere seconds. Yet faith holds him together, lest he falter before God and expose his beloved son to the frailties of uncontrolled emotion.
"And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together" (v. 6).
"And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" (v. 7).
"Here am I," Abraham eagerly replied to his son Isaac. Three days earlier, God had spoken to Abraham, and he had previously answered, "Here am I." Twice now -- once to God in heaven, now to Isaac, a child in the earth, Abraham has said, "Here am I." He has signified that he, Abraham, is available to do the will of God, but now also available to meet the needs of his beloved son. Abraham is held accountable -- as is every Christian father -- in the balance between heaven and earth, in his faith walk with God. He knows he must hear the voice of God, and transmit that voice to his son. It is the calling of every faithful Christian father to bring heaven and earth together for his family, that each member may know and follow the will of God. It is Abraham, the father of the faithful, who has now heard from heaven and received instruction. Now he hears from below and brings that heavenly instruction to Isaac, who has asked, "Where is the lamb?"
Christian, it is a question we must ask ourselves today: "Where is the lamb?" Isaac looked for a lamb for a sacrifice. Where will we today look for the lamb?
"And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together" (v. 8).
Faithful father Abraham understands that there was a "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8), which only God can provide. Yet knowing so by faith, such a lamb is nowhere in sight for Abraham.
"And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood" (v. 9).
Did Isaac understand what he was picturing, that Jesus Christ the true lamb would suffer and be offered on the cross for the sins of the world? Perhaps not, at that early age. Christian, how many boys of Christian families today do you know who would be in such subjection to their own fathers, as to cooperate in what by now is clearly intended to become a sacrificial death. How many young people are themselves yielded to headship, so as to submit to the will of God through their own fathers?
"And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son" (v. 10).
Abraham has made the journey and climbed up the mount of the LORD. Isaac is now bound in silent obedience, as his father had taught him well. Abraham covers the face of Isaac with one hand, while he raises the knife with the other, and begins the plunge of death. Suddenly, Abraham hears a voice and freezes:
"And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I" (v. 11).
Earlier, God had called to Abraham only once. Now the angel calls twice: "Abraham, Abraham." Yes, it is elsewhere we are taught "that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: (Hebr. 6:18). Abraham had earlier laid hold on that hope, secured by God's unconditional oath. Abraham never turned it loose, by faith in "the name of God Almighty" (Exod. 6:3).
With his hand frozen in mid air, while still clutching the knife, Abraham speaks and says again now on the third day: "Here am I." He has said those words three times now -- first to God, then to Isaac, and now to the Angel of the LORD. Abraham has signified three times that he is available, to hear and do the will of God, to hear and provide for his son, and now to give his accountability to heaven. During three days he has experienced the death, burial and now. . . will Isaac be resurrected after the plunge of death is completed? For a split second he wonders, as the angel speaks:
"And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me" (v. 12).
"And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son" (v. 13).
Why is it a ram and not a lamb that Abraham sees now, which he had not seen earlier? A ram has horns for pushing and butting, which symbolizes Abraham's former contriving, obedience of God through his own self will. As Abraham slays the ram, God melts Abraham's own controlling self will. He then experiences victory in the resurrection power of the future lamb Jesus Christ. Abraham has yielded, and God has provided, in the mount of the LORD, praise God!
"And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen" (v. 14).
"Jehovahjireh" is the place where "the LORD provides." Christian, have you found that very place called the mount of the LORD? It is the place where every Christian must offer up his own self will and bitterness and anger and vengeance and hardness. It is the place where idols are broken down, the place where the ram in each of us is slain, making way for the lamb of God to come in. It is the place of renewal, resurrection, and hope. It is the one place told us of God, that we must find after a three days journey, that will take us with our father Abraham into the heavenly city. It is that place of brokenness and yieldedness, where God meets with his people now, and also in the great future time of God's kingdom on this earth.
"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3).
Such is the mount of the LORD, where each of us must lay our most precious possession in total yieldedness. Only then can we walk in full resurrection victory and power through this earth and into the celestial city of God.
Yet before we can come to the mount of the LORD, we must first experience death of our life vision, even as when Abraham was told to offer up his only son Isaac as a burnt offering. Then, Abraham's life vision died, as a type of Christ's death on the cross. Abraham rose early and walked for three days through "the valley of the shadow of death," (Ps. 23:4), as he mentally saw his life vision buried in the earth. There is no way to avoid that process of death and burial. For some of us it takes longer than others. Those three days for Abraham seemed like eternity, but he had to make that walk through death and burial before resurrection and renewal could occur. Only after three days did God bring him upon the mount of the LORD, and let him slay the ram of his former self will, then experience the victory, deliverance and resurrection power of the angel of the LORD.
Christian, learn today the message found only in the mount of the LORD. Give your life to Him in the death and burial of your old man. Slay that ram of your self will on the altar of repentance. Come to the cross and find the true lamb provided by God Himself, that paid sin's price for you. Then experience a new life, as Abraham experienced, as you live in the resurrection power of the Lord.
Christian, hear God today, and walk that three days journey with Abraham in death and burial of your old man. Slay the ram of self will, then arise to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4), with a renewed vision in the resurrection power of the true lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
Christian, find your renewed life vision today, as you make that journey into the mount of the LORD.