I love stories of people who finish the race with fortitude. Who doesn’t gain inspiration from stories that beat the odds? I think of Team Hoyt [father with his paraplegic son] who completed the iron man, or Kerri Strug who finish the Olympics hurt on the hurdles, or Lance Armstrong who won seven Tour De France bike races after battling cancer, or King George VI who fought through the fear of speaking to become a voice comforter during WWII, or Temple Grandin who persevered through autism to become a leading advocate for autism and the cattle industry. Each of these people fought with grit to the finish.
Abraham also had an incredible journey of faith to the finish. Throughout Abraham’s struggle of faith God provided in miraculous ways. Today we will see three specific ways God provided: 1) God provides a son, 2) God provides a sacrifice, and 3) God provides land. Each of these provisions was for promises given by God when he called Abraham [Genesis 12:1-3]. God says what He means, and means what He says. When He promises something, He means to fulfill those promises exactly as He promised, but not always exactly as we think He would do it.
God provides a SON [Genesis 21:1-7]
After 25 years of waiting and wondering God gives Abraham and Sarah a son. Abraham finally has his boy. They name him, Isaac, which means laughter—fitting for a boy born to an old granny [90 years old] and triple-digit pappy [100 years old]. Sarah laughed at Isaac’s birth, but this time in joyous worship for the grace of God, which brought her a son. God miraculously provides Isaac, the promised seed. It is good to rejoice in God’s faithfulness to His promises by giving Abraham a son. God would echo this miracle 2000 years later, when the seed of Isaac was fulfilled in the promised seed born through a virgin girl in a small town named Bethlehem [cf. Matthew 1 & Luke 3].
How have you rejoiced in His faithfulness? This week, I rejoiced with my wife remembering how God had blessed her over the past 10 years. God has been faithful to provide for her in some miraculous and mysterious ways. To God be all the glory!
God provides a SACRIFICE [Genesis 22:1-19]
Soon after God provides Abraham with a son, God in climatic twist calls him to a final test of faith. Before I proceed, it is important to remember that God tests your faith so that it might grow, and Satan tempts you to sin in an attempt to destroy your faith. God never tempts [cf. James 1:13ff]; He only tests. Even when you blow the test God uses it to grow your faith. Abraham’s marathon journey of faith leads him to this last grueling mile and God will ask Abraham to sprint to the finish. God asks father Abraham to build an altar and sacrifice his one and only son.
I’ve got one child. She’s a baby girl. I thank God for her. If I just had one child, that child would be the center of my universe, and as a father, my whole life would be about protecting that child because that would be my only child. When God says, sacrifice this child “whom you love” it shows that Abraham has a deep affection for his boy. They went camping, they worked the field, they played ball, and they did devotions together. I could not imagine how difficult this would have been for Abraham.
Without any deliberation or doubt Abraham awakes early in the morning, responds in faith, takes a 50-mile 3-day donkey ride, cuts wood for the altar [for this is no ordinary camping trip], binds up Isaac on the altar, and raises his knife to kill his son. Was he really going to kill his son on the altar? I think so. I think Abraham had seen God fulfill promise after unbelievable promise and made a womb that was dead-dead alive.
Now Isaac was no baby. He was probably between the ages of 15-35. He could have easily wrestled his 115-135 year old weak-boned dad to the ground. However, as Abraham’s son, he willingly submits himself to God’s plan too. He trusts his dad. I could image that Isaac had a terrified look on his face saying. “Dad, you want me to lay down on the altar? You want me to die here today?” “Yes, son, that’s what the Lord is saying.” “Okay. I trust you, dad.” Isaac willingly lies down on the altar, but God intervenes by providing an animal sacrifice for the burnt offering. The story that climaxes with Isaac, ultimately climax with Christ.
- Isaac and Jesus were both sons promised many years before their birth.
- Isaac and Jesus were both born to women who could not have conceived apart from a miracle.
- Isaac and Jesus were both firstborn sons.
- Isaac and Jesus were both loved by their father/Father.
- Isaac and Jesus both carried wood to their sacrifice.
- Isaac and Jesus both willingly laid down their lives to their father/Father.
- Isaac and Jesus were both laughed at. One for being born, and the later for claiming to be king.
- Isaac and Jesus both lay down as a burnt offering for sin [i.e. substitutionary atonement, 2 Corinthians 5:21].
- Isaac was resurrected figuratively and Jesus was resurrected literally [1 Corinthians 15].
- Isaac was just a man, but Isaac was the God/Man who came to save mankind.
God provides the lamb for a burnt offering so that Isaac may live. Likewise, God provides the Lamb of God—Jesus Christ—as the sin offering so that those who believe in Him may live forever [cf. John 1:29; Mark 10:45]. God is faithful to provide the sacrifice for our redemption.
God provides SOIL [Genesis 23:1-20]
Remember, Abraham was a pagan living in Iraq who worked as a nomad. Now he is living many miles from his childhood home on the doorstep of the land God has promised him. He is old and his wife has just passed. In an obscure way, Sarah’s small and insignificant burial plot was the only property Abraham owned in the Promised Land. The land that was promised to his heirs would not arise as a nation until God would call another man, Moses, who would take God’s people to the Promised Land, but it took Joshua to finally bring the people across the river Jordan [21:43-34]. As the Hebrew people longed for their promised homeland [Hebrews 11:9-14] so followers of Christ long for their eternal homeland with Him [John 14:3; 2 Peter 3:13].
In conclusion, it is a worthwhile endeavor to think back on all the times God has provided. It is encouraging to journal or write a thank you letter to God for all that He has done. As I think back, he has provided in so many miraculous ways: He provided the means through jobs and mysterious donors to pay off my college education, He has provided friends who have given me timely and wise counsel from high school until now, He provided a beautiful and godly wife who has taught me much about God through the way she lives, and He has provided me with a gracious and generous church that has reinvigorated my passion for Christ and His Body. None of these provisions compare to those that the last leg of Abraham’s journey remind me of—God has provided me a Son who was the sacrifice for my sin and through faith in Him I have an eternal home with Him. God has provided far above what I could ever think or ask! It is enough to motivate me to fight the good fight of faith to the finish.
 Cf. Genesis 17:15ff, this was unlike Sarah’s previous laughter of unbelief that mocked the promises of God.