Have you ever noticed in the Bible how often faith is coupled with obedience? More times than not you will find that when we read something about believing, we find instructions to do something close by. We even sing the hymn, “Trust and Obey”.
The reason for this is that it is relatively easy to follow instructions where every step is clearly defined and we have a good picture of the outcome. But have you ever noticed that in life, God rarely reveals all the steps at once? Usually, He gives us just enough light to see the next step and we don’t know what lies beyond until we take that step.
God told Abraham to climb the mountain, build an altar and sacrifice his son, Isaac. He actually gave him about three steps in one. He had earlier given Abraham a glimpse of the future concerning Isaac. To Abraham, it might have seemed impossible that Isaac could die on that altar and still father a great nation, but he believed God and acted on that faith.
I cannot imagine the warring emotions in Abraham’s heart as they climbed Mt. Moriah. Isaac thinks that he and his father are about to have a great worship experience together as they had doubtless done before. Abraham is filled with feelings of dread and yet at the same time, hope.
Notice how God responds to Abraham’s faith.
Isaac says, “Father, we have the wood and the fire for the offering, but where is the sacrifice?”
Abraham replies, “God will provide himself a lamb”.
The Hebrew word for “lamb” is seh, literally the least member of the flock. At this point, Abraham would have settled for anything, even a scrawny runt of a lamb, to avoid sacrificing Isaac. This is a great picture of mere religion. Settling for the meager best that we can produce to avoid paying for our sins ourselves.
And yet when they got to the top of the mountain, they found something special. As Abraham prepared to plunge the knife into Isaac’s heart, the angel of the Lord stopped him. As he turned around, he saw not a lamb, but a ram caught in the thicket. The word used here for “ram” is ayil which means “the chief member of the flock”. This is the animal upon whom the rest of the flock depends for leadership and protection. God did not send the “least” to take our place, He sent the very best in His Son, Jesus.
It is one thing to profess a belief in God, even the demons do that. It is another to act upon that belief, to put feet on our faith, and move in a way that demonstrates our trust in God. We will find that when we obey God in faith, He will respond in ways that are “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”.