A Study of Genesis 22:6-8
“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. 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? And Abraham said, my son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”
If you will look at verse 1 of Genesis 22, it begins this way, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt, (or test to try) Abraham.” Most of us would think that through all these years, that Abraham had been tried severely enough. The Jews talk about the ten great trials of Abraham. God put this great man of faith, through many trying and difficult times. The Jews record and talk about the ten trials of Abraham. Can you name them?
First of all, God called Abraham away out of his father’s house when he was about 75 years old. He had to leave home, leave his friends, and leave his family. He had to leave all of his relatives and go to a land that God would show him.
The second trial was that Abraham had no certain land or dwelling place at all. He lived in tents. The scripture says “Abraham dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob.”
There was a confrontation with a king by the name of Abimelech. If you will remember, Abimelech wanted Sarah, and he would eventually take her away from Abraham. He had a real conflict with Abimelech.
Abraham had trouble with Lot, his nephew and Lot’s herdsmen. He gave Lot the well-watered plains and Abraham headed for the mountains.
There was also the intercession for Sodom.
There was the battle with the kings. Do you remember when he had to rescue Lot and bring him back and had that battle with the kings? God gave him the victory, but it was a great, difficult and trying time.
There was the test of great riches. The kings wanted to make him rich. Abraham was tried in that fashion. They offered him so much of this world’s goods and he said, “No, I have lifted my hands to God and I won’t take a thing from you.”
There was Ishmael’s birth and the trouble with Ishmael. Ishmael despised Isaac and the conflict was between Hagar and Sarah and Ishmael and Isaac. Abraham had to go through that also.
Finally, He had to completely cast Ishmael out and send him away from home.
There was trial after trial after trial that God sent into the life of this man of faith, and even this. After all these things, after all these trials, difficulties, heartaches and problems, God did test Abraham again. This was the most difficult trial of all, the one I want us to look at today.
God said, “Abraham,” and he answered, “Behold, Here I am.” God said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:1-2) God said, “Abraham, take your son, your only son, whom you love and go to the land of Moriah and there offer him as a burnt offering unto me upon the mountain that I tell you of.”
This is the most difficult of all of Abraham’s trials, the most heart-rending trial of all. I will tell you this; now you listen to me. Your faith will be tried, if it is God-given faith, if it is saving faith, and if it is genuine faith, it will be tried. It must be tried and has to be tried.
You know, Peter said this, “Count it not strange when your faith is tried.” It is not a strange thing, it is expected. God will try the faith that he gives us, faith in Christ. Like I said before, it is not a strange thing, it is to be expected.
James says this, “Count it a joy when you are tried.” (James 1:2-3) Peter says, “Don’t think it a strange thing when you are tried” (1st Peter 4:12) because God is trying your faith.
The apostle Paul says this in Hebrews, “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.” (Hebrews 12:6) He will discipline and put them through difficulties. Whom the Lord loves, He will try. He says this also, if you are without trial, then you are not a Son of God. “But if ye are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:8) The scripture says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6)
Peter says, “Don’t think it strange; it is expected.” James says, “Be happy about it because if God loves you He will try you and He will chasten you.” I’ll tell you when I think you ought to be fearful and disturbed, is if you are without trial. “But if ye are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:8)
You see; faith must be tried for several reasons. Listen to these:
Faith has to be tried first to reveal the genuiness of it. How do you know you believe, if your faith is never put to the test? How can you be sure that you are trusting God if you never have any difficulties, problems, troubles or trials? Trials reveal the genuiness of faith. That is what God said to Abraham when he offered up Isaac. He says, “Now, it is clear that you love me, now it is evident that you love Me, because you haven’t withheld your only son from Me.” Now, that is evidence. Faith must be tried to reveal the genuiness of faith.
Our Faith Strengthened
Secondly, faith must be tried to strengthen it. If you don’t use a member of your body, like your arm that it is put in a sling all the time, after while you won’t be able to use it at all. The more you use it the more it is strengthened. The more that faith is tried and tested and the more you have to depend upon the LORD and look to the LORD and wait upon the LORD, the stronger faith becomes. As it is tried, faith is strengthened.
That’s right, faith must be tried to give it patience. “Tribulation worketh patience” (James 1:2-4). We learn to wait on the LORD by waiting on the LORD.
We learn comfort by being comforted. That is where we get our comfort. Our comfort comes when we are shut up to Him, totally. We have no arm of flesh to lean on, no one to depend upon and no one to whom we can look; we look to Him and we learn patience and comfort.
Comfort One Another
Fourthly, faith must be tried so that we can help others in their trials. He said, “Wherefore comfort (listen carefully) yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1st Thessalonians 5:11) People who have lost children, you can comfort someone who has lost a child. People who have lost a husband or a wife, you can say, “I know where you are and I can help you.” People who have gone through sickness and suffering, when someone else comes along, you can help them that have gone through the same valley, you can say, “I understand where you are and I can sympathize with you.”
How can you sympathize with them? The reason is because you have been there! You weep with those that weep, because you have wept. You rejoice with those that rejoice, because you have rejoiced. You give comfort and strength to those who need it because you have received comfort and strength from the LORD. So, faith has got to be tried.
Some preachers talk about being happy all the time, and God wants you to be rich, healthy and happy. They don’t know what they are talking about. All of God’s people must be tried. Our LORD’s grace is sufficient for every trial. That is what He told Paul, “My grace is sufficient.”
Once again, God said, “Abraham, take your son, whom you love, and take him down there and offer him as a burnt offering.” I kind of put myself where he is and I know a lot of thoughts went through his mind. I’ll give you an example: He must have thought, “What am I going to tell Sarah? What shall I tell Isaac when I put him on that altar? What will my servants think, and my neighbors, what are they going to say? Why is God doing this to me? Haven’t I been through enough? Haven’t I given everything?”
No, he may have thought those things, and those things may have raced through his mind. I know he’s human like you and me, but all of those thoughts were overruled by one factor, “He believed God.” Whatever God required of him, whatever God demanded of him, “He believed God.” He knew that Isaac was his heir and if he took the life of Isaac, God would have to raise him from the dead, because the Christ would come through Isaac. Abraham knew this and he believed God. He knew all things; he knew, “That all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So, when God told him to take his only son and sacrifice him, it says in verse 3; look at it,
“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.” (Genesis 22:3) You should be able to see Christ all through this, “Take your son, your only Son because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and said; This is my beloved Son.”
For three days, God left Abraham to his own thoughts. God didn’t speak to him again. God commanded him to act and he never said another word. For three days, this man journeyed toward Mount Moriah where he would offer Isaac.
In verse four, it says, “Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off” (the mountain of God). Now, here he stands at the foot of this mountain. Here he stands, Abraham and his son Isaac. We use to say, down south in Alabama, “He was a good size boy!” He wasn’t a little fellow. I’m sure he was a strapping young man. Here he stands with Isaac, his beloved son. Here with them are his two servants and the donkey with the wood on its back.
They are standing before the mountain of God and verse 6 says that, “Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son” (Genesis 22:6); he put it on the back of Isaac. He had to be a good size boy to carry the wood up that mountain. Abraham took the fire. They had the fire on a stick and it was soaked in something, in some kind of flammable liquid. He took the fire in this hand and the knife in the other hand. The scripture says in verse 5, Abraham turned to the servants (this is faith), he said, “You men wait here, the lad and I are going up the mountain to worship God and we’ll (both) be back.”
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink, Though pressed by many, a foe. That will not tremble on the brink, Of any earthly woe.
Preacher, how can you explain this faith and confidence of Abraham? Paul explained it for us in Hebrews 11:17. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, (and I mean tried) offered up Isaac.” (Hebrews 11:17) You may say, “He didn’t offer him up.” He did in his mind and he did in his heart; yes he did! He didn’t kill him, he didn’t burn his body; God stayed his hand and put a ram in his place. As far as God was concerned, Abraham’s willingness, constituted the act. We need to learn that, this kind of faith and willingness.
I may not have a lot to do as far as gifts or ability, but we must be willing. God looks on the heart, not on the outward countenance. It is where the heart is and where the will is. Abraham was willing and he offered up Isaac. Listen, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure (in a type)” (Hebrews 11:19). When he took Isaac off that altar and put the ram in his place, he received him as if he’s risen from the dead.
You see, God told Abraham that Isaac would be his heir and Abraham believed God. God told Abraham that he must get rid of Ishmael. There was to be no one to fall back on. There is no Ishmael down the road. If Isaac is dead, there is no heir because Ishmael is gone. Abraham burned his bridges. Everything was in Isaac. His trust was in Isaac and when he put Ishmael out, and he was going down the road, he was saying, “I believe God; it is all in his son, Isaac.”
That is the way Christ is. It’s not Christ, plus my church membership or Christ, plus my works or Christ, plus my morality, it’s not Christ, plus my preaching; it is all Christ! All of the Ishmaels are put out. What are put out are the children of works, the children of human efforts, and the children of human ability. My faith and confidence are in the miracle child, “Christ Jesus.” God put Ishmael out and burned his bridges. Abraham knew it had to be in Isaac; “he believed God.”
God promised Abraham a family. God took him out one night and said, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars; if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” (Genesis 15:5) Abraham believed God and he started up the mountain. He was willing to sacrifice his son on the word of God.
Look at Genesis 22:7. You see, Isaac was a good size young man and he’s carrying this wood and he looked over at his father and his father had the fire and the knife. He’s been carrying the wood, and naturally, this is what he asked, “My father, behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
Isaac knew he couldn’t worship God without a lamb, without the blood.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)
God said, “I’ve given you the blood upon the altar to make an atonement for your soul.” “It’s the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.” Isaac knew about Abel’s offering; he knew about those things. His father had taught him well. He was well taught in this matter of coming to God. To come to God you must come by a blood sacrifice. Sin demands death; there must be death.
He knew Cain made the greatest error of all, trying to come to God by his works. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice and accepted Abel’s because Abel’s was a blood sacrifice. When Abel brought the blood, Abel was saying, “I’m a sinner who deserves death and this lamb is dying the innocent for the guilty in my place, and is shedding his blood. Abel is saying that God accepts me on the behalf of Christ through his blood. So, Isaac says, “Where’s the lamb?” All of this is to illustrate the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of our sin.
Now, I’m coming to my point. This is really important, now you get this, Abraham looked at his boy, at his son, and said, “My son,” (here are five words to live by; these are the five words of the foundation, the basis of real faith in God, saving faith) “My son, God will provide.”
I want you to dwell with me for a few moments on those words. I believe that these five words sum up the faith of this man who is called the father of believers; “My son, God will provide.” When he left his home, “God will provide.” When they offered to make him rich; he didn’t take it; “God will provide.” When Lot took the best land, “God will provide.” When he told Abraham to send Ishmael away, he believed God would provide for him; God would take care of him. When he started up the mountain to sacrifice his son and he said to his son, “God will provide;” I believe these words apply not only to the salvation of our souls and the forgiveness of our sins, but I believe these words apply to every need of the believer. He says, “My son, God will provide.”
He’s our Provider. He’s our Father. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Why do you take anxious thought or worry for tomorrow, what you are going to eat, drink or wear? The heathen seek after these things. Your Father knows that you have need of these things.” (Matthew 6:25-34) He clothes the lily of the field, that is today and tomorrow is cast into the oven. God takes care of the sparrows that are sold for practically nothing. “Will He not much more feed and clothe you, O ye of little faith? Ask and it shall be forgiven you. God will provide.”
I believe that if you can enter into what these words mean and can comprehend the depth of them, you will know and have the gospel. As he said before, “My son, God will provide.” You just remember these words, “Jehovah-jireh.” (Genesis 22:14) As a matter of fact, Abraham built an altar right at that place and called it, “Jehovah-jireh, The LORD will provide.” That is all I need. “My son, God will provide.”
Why don’t we use words like that with our children, our grandchildren and our friends? When you see them doubting, fearing and afraid. They will act so careful. Just tell them, “My son, God will provide.” He always has and He always will. “There will be nothing good that he will withhold from them that love Him.”
The scripture says, “God shall supply all your need…” It’s not your wants or my wants, but my need, “…According to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) (Oh my, “God will provide.”
You know, the first reference is to the sacrifice for sin; “God will provide.” With the atonement, and the burnt offering, “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” God did provide the lamb. God provided the lamb in the place of Isaac, but God also provided the Lamb in the place of the sinner. “The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8) When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law.” (Galatians 4:4) God provides for us the Lamb. “My son, (now listen to this whole sentence) God will provide Himself a Lamb for a burnt offering,” and God provided that Lamb.
That is what John the Baptist said when he pointed to Christ. His disciples were standing around him and he pointed to Christ in John 1:29, and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” He’s the Lamb of God’s choosing, the Lamb of God’s anointing, and the Lamb of God Almighty’s ordination. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. My son, God will provide.”
Our Lord Jesus said one time, He said, “Abraham saw my day; he rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) That was when Abraham saw the day of Christ vividly. Abraham said, “Don’t you worry Isaac, “God will provide a Lamb.” There is something else here; he says, “God will provide Himself a Lamb.” God Himself is the Lamb. That’s right! The Lamb of God is none other than God in human flesh. “My son, God will provide a Lamb” and God will provide Himself as the lamb.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” (2nd Corinthians 5:19) “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) “and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) “We beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” He is the Lamb!
Look at this third thing; this is so significant and so important to know the gospel. Abraham knew it! Isaac said, “Where’s the lamb?” You can’t go to God without a lamb and his father said, “My son, God will, (in the fullness of time) provide a Lamb,” the Lamb, the supreme Lamb. “God will provide Himself the Lamb;” He will be the Lamb and God will provide for Himself a Lamb.
Do you know that the death of Jesus Christ was not toward us? Christ didn’t die on the cross to get us to feel sorry for Him. He died on that cross toward the Father as a sacrifice for our sins, to enable God to be just and justify the ungodly. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) That is God’s law and that is God’s justice; that must be done. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” and “I will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7). God says; I will not clear the guilty!
So, God provided a Lamb for His law. He provided an obedient man for His holiness and righteousness. He provided a sacrifice for His justice. God provided for Himself, a Lamb. God raised Him from the dead also. It was just like the Old Testament priest who went into the “Holy of Holies” and there was no one there but Him, alone, once a year, but “not without blood.” That blood of the sacrifice was put on the mercy seat to God, and “Christ died for our sins and reconciled us to God;” He died before the Father.
This will apply to everything in your life. My son, I’ll say it to you again and again, “God will provide.” He will provide in this life and the life to come, today and tomorrow; “My son, God will provide.”
Henry Mahan – 1993