By Rick Elsey
Pastor, West End Baptist Church, Columbia
Do names matter? Ask the Hatfields and the McCoys. Throughout Scripture names play an important role. They reflect the character or nature of an individual or serve as a reminder to a promise. This is especially true when it comes to God. The names of God not only reveal His character but they encourage and challenge us as we grow in our relationship with Him. This week we focus on God as our Provider. Consider this question as we go through this lesson: do I have the faith to trust God to meet my needs?
(1) A strong faith is a tested faith (Genesis 22:1-2). If we are honest, most of us do not enjoy facing tests in our lives. We are reminded in James 1:3 that faith produces perseverance and perseverance maturity. Still the road to mature faith can be difficult. In Genesis 22 we find Abraham facing one of the most difficult tests in all of his life. After years of waiting, God had blessed him with a son, an heir to the promise. God has now commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.
How would Abraham respond to such an incredible test? Does he have enough faith? If this test were 25 years earlier, I doubt Abraham’s faith could meet the challenge. On more than one occasion he presented Sarah as his sister out of fear for his life. When God promised him an heir would be born, he gave in to the wishes of his wife to have a child with her servant. Years later we see a different Abraham. We see a man of faith. We see a man who has seen the provision of God over and over again in his life. The question still remains, will he trust in God’s provision now?
(2) Trusting God to meet our needs (vv. 3-10). God has spoken and Abraham responds. He responds immediately with no complaints, no grumbling, and no pleading to God to change His mind. Is he a father frozen with grief? Is he resigned to the fact that God will now take his son and there is little he can do in response? I believe the Scripture points to quite the opposite. Here is a man of faith.
In this passage the faith of Abraham is displayed on two occasions. In v. 5 he assures his companions that after he and his son have worshiped they will return. Later (v. 8), when questioned by Isaac about the sacrifice, Abraham assures him God will provide. How would God provide? That was not the issue. The issue was trusting in a faithful God who had always provided in the past and would provide again. Even as Abraham calls Isaac by name (which means “He Laughs”), he is reminded of God’s provision in the midst of his doubt. Abraham truly believed God would provide.
(3) Trusting God to provide at the right time (vv. 11-14). Just as Abraham is ready to take Isaac’s life, God intervenes. Why did God wait so long? Have you been in situations when you have asked yourself the same question? You know that God will provide, but when? The correct answer is: in His time, which is always the right time. God could have stopped Abraham long before he drew his knife but waited until Abraham was committed to exercising his faith.
We don’t have all the answers when it comes to God’s timing. However, we do know that through a faith that has been tested He will provide and will do so at the right time. In whatever tests we may face, we can trust God as our provider.