Archive for June 17th, 2014

God Will Provide

June 17th, 2014

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Genesis 22:14

Several remarkable truths are discovered in this passage. Today we will examine the trial of Abraham’s heart or the testing of his faith, and tomorrow we will explore the meaning of the new name for God that was revealed through this event: “The LORD Will Provide.”

Abraham’s testing: All his life Abraham had been tested, as we are as well. Every day there are challenges to face, temptations to reject, opportunities for Christ to claim, and something new about God to learn. As it was with Abraham, so it is with us, that these increase in intensity as we get older. Perhaps you thought otherwise, that it was in our youth that our faith was tried and in our latter years we go gently in grace. Though there should be watershed moments in our founding years – moments when we surrendered our hearts to Christ and gained spiritual strength and insight, and though the person of faith may gain strength to face the more difficult challenges of life in the latter years, the tests and burdens do not subside rather they increase.

The peace of the latter years in life is gained through a deepening experience of grace, and not through the lessening of the burdens of life. Ecclesiastes 12:1 says: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.'” The greatest personal challenge will be our own death, to enter into eternity with confidence in the grace of God in Christ. But also there are other challenges, such as to leave a legacy of faith, to encourage the future generations, and to do all of these as our bodies weaken, as our eyes dim, as our hearing lapses, and our pains mount.

The nature of the test of faith: absolute surrender! As we learn throughout the Word of God, the nature of our test is always the same: to surrender in heart and soul to the plan of God. The Lord was very persistent with Abraham, to break this stubborn will, and not just his stubbornness but also his cowardice, his temptation to give into circumstances rather than stand up to them. Surrender is not a passive thing, though it may appear sometimes to be. True faith is not a “que sera, sera” type of thinking, rather it is the committed adherence to the plan, the ways, and the schedule of God.

The persistence of God: God was not content to let Abraham merely have a mediocre spiritual experience; He pursued the matter until He touched on that thing that Abraham loved more than anything else, his own son Isaac. As long as anything stands in the way of our obedience, God will press the issue to our hearts all our life long until that matter is given over to Him. He will not relent for His purpose is that our hearts will be entirely His. For all that the man had been through, we are tempted to say, “That is enough! He has learned his lesson as best as he can, and let him go in peace. He is better than most, had done more than many, and on the whole had matured quite a lot.” But God is never content with anything less than perfect faith, for nothing will sustain us in heaven other than perfect surrender.

How God impressed on Abraham’s heart that he should offer Isaac as a sacrifice we are not told, except that just as surely as he knew anything else, Abraham knew that this was required of him. But often we have similar impressions. What do you love more than God? What are you unwilling to let go of for His sake? Your money? Your children? Your grandchildren? Your health? Your family? Your popularity? Your comfortable lifestyle? Your financial security? Your physical beauty? The respect of your peers? The acceptance of your loved ones? God will not relent your entire lifelong until you are willing to surrender that to God.

Reading this story we learn that we cannot use the excuse, “Oh, God will never ask me to give that up for Him!” Whatever stands in the way of our obedience to God has become our greater object of worship. We have put a false god before the real God. Christ said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Until Christ becomes first, to the exclusion of all other people and things, then we are not prepared to handle those matters. God blesses His children, but we always run the risk of loving the blessing more than the Blesser – loving the gift more than the Giver – and this is simple idolatry (Col. 3:5).

Earlier, with Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham had put his own plotting ahead of the plan of God – he thought more of his own ideas than of God’s means and methods. And now in this instance God questions him to his core. Had the old man truly learned to trust in God? No man or woman can die in peace, nor can they live in victory, until this matter has been resolved in their heart. Until we say, like Paul, that through the cross “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14), we are not prepared to enter into eternity.

Now, we have every assurance that in eternity God will complete what He began here – “faithful is he who called you and he will do it” (1 Thess 5:24) – but He will not relent here to deal with every believing heart on this matter. This is the great lesson of our life: total surrender. Jim Elliot’s tremendous words must also become our thought: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Gleanings from Genesis