There is one story in the Old Testament that makes me marvel — The Lord testing Abraham in Genesis 22. I mean… every time I read it I can’t help but think, “What in the world, Lord!?”
Isaac was the fulfillment of a long-awaited promise. Abraham and Sarah waited and waited and waited for this one, but in their old age, they did in fact have a son. God’s covenant was formed. The promise fulfilled.
Then God decides to test Abraham.
“Abraham!! Take your son, your only son, whom you love– Isaac– and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Um… I can see Abraham scratching his head. Lord, did I hear that correctly? Are you sure about this?
The scripture says that early the next morning, Abraham loads his donkey, takes his servants and Isaac and goes to the mountain. Abraham showed the faith and the obedience for deliverance multiple times in the story, yet the Lord waited to provide the ram. Abraham showed faith and obedience when he loaded up his donkey with enough wood to make a fire and took his first step towards the mountain. Shouldn’t this had been enough for the Lord to show up? Isn’t it enough when we just show up in obedience?
He showed faith again when he left his servants at a camp on the mountain saying “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5) He said “we”. Did you notice that? Abraham was walking in the faith and obedience required to pass the test. Yet no ram here either.
Then Abraham put the wood into Isaacs arms and with the fire in one hand and his knife in the other, walked with Isaac the last part of the way up the mountain path. Along the way, Isaac says to his father, “Father, the fire and the wood are here but where is the lamb for the offering? Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ (Genesis 22:7-8) “
Now you would think that at this point in the story, Abraham should have passed the test. I mean he’s loaded the donkey. He’s gathered the wood. He’s got his fire in one hand and this knife in the other. He’s walking along with Isaac in faith and obedience. But the ram is not given here either!
Then Abraham builds an altar. He arranges the wood on it. I’m sure several times in this process he had to look up towards heaven and say, “Okay Lord. Have I passed the test yet? I mean… you can show up any time now!?”
I marvel at God’s timing.
Notice what it took for God to finally show up; Abraham had to lay Isaac down on the altar of sacrifice.
It says that he bound Isaac. Laid him on top of the wood and laid him on the altar. And it was THIS action that finally caused God to show up. Finally God reveals Himself and His plan. Don’t lay a hand on the boy. Do not harm him. And in that moment Abraham looks up and caught in a thicket is a ram caught by his horns. Finally, God provides the sacrifice.
I think many times in life we, like Abraham, walk in faith and obedience waiting for the Lord to show up. Have you ever had a situation where you knew God was going to do something but for a long time you are left scratching your head wondering what in the world, Lord?
I believe God wants to show up. I believe often times, we are the ones holding him back.
In Isaiah 61:3 it says God will turn our ashes into a crown of beauty, but here’s the thing: Before we can have our crown of beauty, we need ashes. Before we can have ashes, we have to lay down the promise.
God is an all-consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29 Whatever it is that you are waiting for God to show up in, bind it up, lay it on the wood and prepare it for sacrifice. See, when we lay down the promise on the altar of sacrifice and let him fully consume it, that’s when he truly can turn them into a crown of beauty.
Abraham had the faith and obedience necessary for God to show up. Multiple times he passed the test of faith. I believe many times we too pass the test of faith. But God is waiting until our “Isaac” is bound, laying on the wood ready to be sacrificed before providing the ram. Before he can show up and give us that glorious crown of beauty, we have to do our part. We have to lay the promise down on the altar. Bound and ready for sacrifice.
So I ask you today, what are you holding onto? What pain, disappointment, injustice or promise are you holding onto that needs to be bound up, laid on the wood and made ready for sacrifice? You can live by faith and walk in obedience all you want. Abraham did. Will you lay the promise down on the altar, let the Lord consume it to ashes and then trade you ashes for a crown of beauty?? When you finally do, that’s when the Lord can give you your crown of beauty. That’s when He can show up. That’s when you can find your break through.
Holy Spirit, show me today the areas of my life that I have been holding onto. Show me what “Isaacs” I have in my life that need to be bound up, laid on the wood and made ready for sacrifice. What promises have you given me, that haven’t been provided yet that I need to lay down on the altar so you can consume them? Lord, give me eyes to see and hears to hear. I want to lay the rubble of my life on the altar of sacrifice where you can consume it to ashes and trade it for a crown of beauty.
© Dacian Keaton Ministries, 2019. All rights reserved.