Based on the unpredictable and seemingly impossible commands the Lord has given His people, I don’t think He would have won any ancient popularity contests.
The first book of our Bible, Genesis, contains accounts that, if we didn’t have the whole story, could make God seem more like a sinister bully than a sovereign Savior.
The people whose stories of faith are recorded in the Word had no idea what the whole story would be, yet they exhibited otherworldly trust.
Noah’s Nautical Carpentry
For example, only a couple chapters after the creation and fall accounts, we learn that humanity continued to make a mess of things. Yet God saw Noah,
a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God (Genesis 6:9).
God told Noah to do something totally unbelievable: build a massive boat because He was going to flood the earth. Mind you, when God said He planned to “flood” the earth, humanity had no concept of what that meant. (And really, do we?)
All Noah knew was that God told him to build this massive structure called an ark when he was 500 years old.
While Noah worked on this project, he undoubtedly earned the reputation of being the “town eccentric.”
Regardless of human opinion, Noah obeyed God. In the end, God used Noah and his family to reestablish the human race and receive a new covenant from God.
“God Will Provide”
Then there’s the story of Abraham and Isaac. In the fullness of time, God fulfilled His promise and gave Abraham and Sarah a son named Isaac, when they were both well past childbearing years. To this we would say, “Praise God for His miraculous gift.”
Why then, in Genesis 22, would God tell Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac? For reasons yet to be revealed, God did tell Abraham to take Isaac, build an altar, and offer him as a “burnt offering” (22:2).
Abraham did exactly what God told him to do—and I imagine he did so with a terrified heart and tear-filled eyes. Isaac, as far as we know, knew nothing of this sacrificial arrangement.
For three days, they collected and cut wood to build an altar. Then, Isaac asked the million-dollar question: “Father . . . where is the lamb?” (22:7). How does a parent answer that? With wisdom from God, Abraham replied, “God will provide.”
That ought to be enough: “God will provide.” But how often do we want so much more? We want to know HOW and WHEN and WHAT He will provide.
A Ram in the Thicket
God didn’t give Abraham—nor does He typically offer us—the full story as he followed Him. All Abraham knew was what God chose to let him know. The same is true for us today. It takes faith to believe that all He will do will be for our good, REGARDLESS.
For Abraham and Isaac, God did provide—at the very last second. Just as Abraham’s razor-sharp knife was about to plunge into his son’s chest, an angel from heaven shouted and stopped Abraham from killing Isaac.
God provided the sacrifice: a ram entangled in a nearby thicket. Can you imagine what it was like for Abraham to untie the rope wrapped around his son’s body?
Can you begin to imagine the freedom Isaac felt as he stepped off the altar he had built with his father? Maybe they fell into one another’s arms and wept. I have to wonder what that was like.
God Still Provides Today . . . Hang On
How easy it is to question the goodness and faithfulness of God when we are in pain, persecuted, living what appears to be a pointless life.
When we are flooded with adversity, with anxiety too hard to bear, we wonder where God is. When we walk lonely roads, stumbling over our own pain or the pain of others, life ceases to make sense.
In those moments, we MUST recall these stories. The stories of Scripture that appear hopeless help us to keep moving forward, reframing misery and mystery into masterpieces yet unfinished.
We survive by clinging to the truths of Scripture . . . which ultimately point us to the hope found in Christ.
Christ Himself is the ultimate example of tragedy transformed into triumph. That cross, that gruesome death, looked like the end. But on the third day, our Lord provided more than a man-made ark and much more than a ram in a thicket.
Jesus laid down His precious life and took our place on the altar of sacrifice—and rose again, conquering sin and death!
Jesus is the ultimate way that God has provided life and mercy to us. Like Noah, like Abraham, all we have to do is take God at His Word.
I know . . . easier said than done. I don’t know where you find yourself today. Perhaps you are being called to something you feel totally and thoroughly ill-equipped to handle.
If you are ill-equipped, God can arm you sufficiently for what is ahead if you will put your faith in Him rather than in yourself. Have you lost all hope of being saved by God? Are the flood waters rising and you’re losing air?
He will provide. Fall on your face before God, and ask Him to help you see the situation as He sees it.
Like Noah and Abraham and all those who believed God before you, there is more to your story than what you can see right now. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:28,
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Please don’t give in or give up.
Give all you have and all your heart to the One who knows you best: Jesus Christ. He will make a way. Cling to Him and to His word.
Let Me Hear from You
What is one area where you are being tested to trust in Him today?
Let’s sit in prayer for that this week.
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