"Abraham 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, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham,
'Father?' 'Yes, my son,' Abraham replied. 'The fire and the wood are
here,' Isaac said, 'but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?'
Abraham answered, 'God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt
offering, my son.'" (Genesis 22:6-8a NIV).
Abraham's knife is raised in his hand to kill his son when God's angel calls, "Abraham! Abraham! ... Do not lay a hand on the boy. 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..." (Genesis 22:11,12, NIV). Just then Abraham sees another sacrifice, a ram caught in the bushes, a sacrifice that God has provided for him.
Today when we hear this story, we rejoice when God stops Abraham before the boy's blood flows, we empathize when God commends Abraham for his willingness to give up his only son, and we marvel at God's timely provision of the ram.
Too, we can be moved by something else of great importance: Even if Abraham had sacrificed his only son, that sacrifice could not have bought anything for Abraham. The reason is that God can never be "bought." Only a sacrifice that God himself provides can serve God's purpose.
Only a sacrifice that God provides can suffice for anyone. In the first century A.D., when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world..." (John 1:29). When Jesus passed by the next day, John again pointed Jesus out to two of his disciples as, "The Lamb of God" (John 1:36).
God gave his Son, his only Son, Jesus Christ, "The Lamb of God," the sacrifice who died on the cross for all of us -- for all humankind.
The Psalmist asked, "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" (Psalm116:12). Actually, no human being can ever repay the Lord, but we can respond as the psalmist did to his own question, "I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people" (from Psalm 116:13,14, 18). The Psalmist will respond in faith, and will also let his fellow men know of his faith.
We are all challenged to do the same. We can share the Lord's benefits together, and rejoice in worship and praise.
Prayer: Thank you for making "all things work together for good for those who love you, for those who are called according to your purposes" (paraphrased from Romans 8:28 NKJV). Increase our faith, we pray, and guide and assist us in making the sacrifice of Jesus Christ known. In His name we pray. Amen.
By Isabel Allison