The Lord Will Provide
Greetings Narrow Gate,
Prayerfully, the impeachment trial in the Senate is winding down. I pray you all are safe and receiving your vaccinations. I continue to miss you all.
Easter's coming, it's harvest time, and prayerfully, you've found your witness and your voice. So, I'm going to talk about Jesus, if you don't mind. I'll leave the political theatre and entertainment alone.
Easter is on the 4th of April this year. I have been led to try to answer a few questions with my sermons leading up to Easter. Why do we need Jesus at all? A simple question, a mind blowing question for long term believers and atheists and agnostics (their minds are made up). But for seekers in the Twenty-first century, this is a legitimate question. Why Jesus?
Another question is what happened at the cross? Because what happened at the cross of Christ changed our futures for eternity. This is a great improvement over what our futures would have been without Jesus.
We don't need to answer the question who is Jesus? Or do we? Let's start here. In an indirect way. Because I'm going Old Testament on you today. That's right, for all of you who don't believe the Old Testament speaks about Jesus. The OT is all about Jesus. The repetitive narratives throughout the OT point to Jesus. In fact, the whole OT points to the coming of Jesus as the Savior/Messiah.
Let's start our Easter 2021 study, by looking to the book of Genesis 22:9-18. We are picking up with Father Abraham and his son Isaac. Genesis 22:9-12,
"When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, 'Abraham! Abraham!' 'Here I am,' he replied. 'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' the angel said. 'Do not do anything to him. Now I Know that you fear God (trust God, etc.), because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
Well, in or out of context, one could find this text horrifying, but it does reveal the trust that Abraham had in his God. We can see why God thought so highly of Abraham. Not only did he pass this test, but he did so in a way that spoke to God's heart. Remember, this scripture points to Jesus. "because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
That's right, God knew, what Abraham probably didn't: One day he would have to sacrifice his only Son.
Abraham had committed himself by covenant to be obedient to the Lord and he had consecrated his son Isaac to the Lord by circumcision. This test by the Lord, is to give evidence not just to Abraham and Isaac, but to the multitudes of Abraham's descendants, as to the kind of total commitment and consecration that the Lord's covenant requires.
So the Lord is pleased with Abraham. We are left knowing there is something special here about Abraham not withholding "his son, his only son". Genesis 22:13-14,
"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by his horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."
Abraham's faith was made complete by what he did here on the mountain. This is the first time that substitutionary sacrifice of one life for another is mentioned in the Bible.
How blessed do you believe that Abraham feels with this provision of the ram? He was tight with God before, my guess is that he is one with God now. Which is just how each one of us is to be in relation to our God. One with God.
There is a lesson for us in being one with God. We know from scripture that the Trinity is one: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we are saved, justified by grace, we also become one with the Trinity. Did you know this? We can be as close to God as Abraham was. Then, as we grow in faith, the Holy Spirit places the desire in our heart to invite others into this relationship of oneness.
God is very pleased with Abraham as the following passage suggests. Genesis 22:15-18,
"The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, 'I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."'
We are often so consumed with the details of our own lives that we forget that each of us can have a relationship with God that is as tight as his relationship with Abraham. We each, for some reason, cannot seem to commit the details of our lives to a God that wants to be close to us, just as he was with Abraham. We all say we want this type of relationship with God. What's keeping us from this? Our behavior, our inattentiveness to his word? Or is it something else?
We began with the question: Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Lamb of God. Just like the ram in the thicket for Abraham. Jesus is the Lamb that God provided for to take our place.
Why do we need Jesus? Because we all need a savior. We need a sacrifice for our sins. As the Lamb of God, Jesus was that sacrifice.
Let me encourage you, during this time when we are isolated and somewhat shutdown, to invest some of your TV time in reading your Bible. While you may be feeling lonely, isolated, and bereft of fellowship, you might discover something very important.
You have had a friend with you, right beside you, the whole time.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC