Posts tagged provider
Today, we run across one of the most familiar (and peculiar) stories in the Bible. Here, Abraham takes his son Isaac – the one promised and given to him by God – and, seemingly without hesitation, sets off to sacrifice him on an altar. Now, this is another one of those stories that has been analyzed in every imaginable way and so, for those who want to explore all of the significance of this story, I’m sure a simple Google search will yield unending results. For me, however, two aspects of this story jump out to me:
First, this is a story that really cries out to be read in context. The context here is a world where polytheism was the norm. Not only that, but Abraham himself probably worshiped many gods before THE God began speaking to him. And for those who worshiped some of the other common gods of the day, it was actually pretty common to sacrifice children. Though it is difficult for us to fathom such an act, this is a case where our cultural bias creates a filter for this story that was never intended by the original authors. To be sure, killing your own child is a grievous offense. However, so is disobedience to God. And in a culture that truly feared not only “God,” but also “the gods,” the choice between family and diety was clear – diety won.
And so, when we remove our filtered view of this story, what we see is that it’s just as powerful as ever, but not quite as creepy. Ultimately, though Abraham had accepted that he might actually have to sacrifice his son, there was still part of him that believed that God would provide some other way. Abraham resolved to carry out what was being asked of him, but longed for another option. Many generations later, one of Abraham’s descendants, Jesus, would do the same thing – praying in the garden for God to provide another way. Only this time, it was God who had to watch his own son be sacrificed – something that would have been engrained in the minds of the people of Israel after hearing for thousands of years about Abraham’s encounter here. So, that prophetic foreshadowing really jumps out to me.
The other thing that leaps off the page as I read this story is Abraham’s recognition of God as the one who provides. I can just imagine the thoughts going through Abraham’s head. “God has never let me down,” he was probably thinking. “He has always provided for me. He even gave me this child when everyone thought it was impossible. This God that I’ve come to know will take care of this.” What an incredible reminder that God truly is the provider.
I have learned, unlearned and relearned this lesson more times than I care to admit. God is the provider. He gives us what we need to accomplish that which he has called us to do. Sometimes he gives us just what we need and just in time, like he did with Abraham. But I think the nature of God is to not require something of us that we can’t offer. That’s why, so often, he provides things for us – things that allow us to achieve what is often far beyond our natural ability. I like that kind of God.