(This is the first of my Advent Sermon Series: The With Us God)
The With Us God: The God Who Provides! Gen. 22:1-14 NLT)
This Advent season we are taking a journey deep into this name, Immanuel. We know what this name means thanks to Matthew 1:23—“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,which means ‘God is with us.’” In the Hebrew, this name comes from two words: ‘Immanuw’ which means “with us, or toward us. The other word is ‘El’ which means “God.” To look at this word literally, we could say it means: The With Us God. He moves from the realm of eternity and infinity and steps across into the limitations of time and place. He is the With Us God because He became one of us.
Each week we are going to look at one of the many names used in Scripture to describe God. The first name we are going to look at is: Yahweh Yireh—The God Who Provides. It comes from today’s scripture in Genesis 22:1-14 (NLT)
1 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,”he replied. “Here I am.” 2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering onone of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,”Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together,
7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” 8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” 12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day,people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
This is one of those passages that the more I read it, the more I am amazed at God’s plans and purposes. And even more amazed that I am a part of those plans and purposes of God. Knowing this, the more overwhelmed I am at God’s love, grace and mercy.
To fully understand this passage, we need to know all that happened leading up to this pivotal moment in Abraham’s journey of faith. One day Abraham heard God’s call to leave behind everything he knew and embark on a journey to an unknown, yet to be revealed place. Abraham had no idea where he would end up,but he followed God’s direction. God promised him a great nation would come from his descendants when Abraham and Sarah had no children.
When he finally arrived at that place, he lived there as an immigrant, not a citizen. As he and Sarah grew older, they still had no children. So they did the same thing we usually do when God seems to delay His promise. They took matters into their own hands and produced a child through Hagar, Sarah’s servant.
But that was not God’s plan and God waits until it seems that it will be impossible for them to have a child, and God does the impossible. He tells them they will have a son and they are to name that son Isaac—which means“he laughs.” That is exactly what Abraham did. He laughed at the audacity of God.
But the next year, Sarah gave birth to God’s promise and Abraham named him Isaac—He laughs. And from that day forward, I think every time Abraham looked at Isaac,he remembered the day he laughed at the audacity of God and knew he would never again laugh at God’s boldness. God had provided him that son.
Then comes that day he never saw coming. God tells Abraham that he is to sacrifice Isaac—that Son Of The Promise. Abraham knows not to laugh at or question God’s boldness. So they set out to the place God is leading them. When they arrive, listen again to what Abraham says in Verse 5: We will worship there, and then we will come right back. These are words of faith—WE will worship—WE will return.
The sacrifice Abraham was to make meant taking the life of Isaac and then burning his body to ashes. But Abraham still said—WE will return. And at that moment of total surrender to God—that moment of total trust in God—God stops Abraham from doing the unthinkable. And there was provided a substitute for Isaac.
And not at the place of promise—you will have a son—and not at the place of birth—where Isaac was born—but at the place of sacrifice, Abraham names it Yahweh Yireh—The Lord Will Provide. End of this story, right? Wrong! On that same piece of ground Jerusalem will be built and a temple erected. And in that same area, a new name will emerge: Golgotha! And on that same piece of ground, this With Us God provided the only sacrifice that could ever set us free and change our hearts.
At a pivotal moment in his journey of faith, Abraham’s actions and God’s response looks over 2000 years into the future when God provided the ultimate substitute sacrifice in the person of His Son. What God Would Not Allow Abraham To Do—Sacrifice His Only Son—God Actually Did! And God continues to provide out of his love,through His indescribable grace, exactly what we need to become who we were created to be: The Child of God.
I love the Advent Season,and I especially love to receive Communion in this season. I love it because the single symbol you will find in every church every day of the year is not the manger—but the Cross. In this holy moment of Communion, we take our place with Abraham to rediscover or make a new discovery, that this God, our God,provides exactly what we need. These signs, these symbols, above all other signs and symbols, tells us that this With Us God is Yahweh Yireh. In this holy moment, God provides the 3 things we all need most of all:
1. He Provides Release
Romans 8:1—So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. His sacrifice, His death satisfies the penalty of our own sins and releases us from the guilt and condemnation of those sins. We come and confess—be of the same mind as God about our sins—and because God provided the Substitute, we are unconditionally released. Not only are we released from the penalty of our sins, but we are released from the power those sins hold over us—when this With Us God is the King of our Heart & Desires.
2. He Provides Relief
John 14:18—I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. When life becomes too difficult to handle on our own, He comes to us to help us. When the ache and pain is beyond words, He shares with us in those pains. He takes care of birds and creates beautiful flowers and He takes care of you. The relief Abraham found was in the ram that God provided. He comes to us to sustain us by giving us His very self. You are never alone in your struggles because you have the With Us God inside you. And He is With You in a promise: I will not abandon you as orphans. This With Us God provides relief for us as He did for Abraham—at the place of sacrifice!
3. He Provides The Reason
We see reminders that Jesus truly is the Reason For The Season. But there is a reason not only FOR the season, but a reason for you. Abraham and Isaac’s reason was to begin a great nation through which one day, ALL nations would be blessed because of their faithfulness to God’s purpose. 1 Corinthians 11:26— For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
We must follow Abraham’s example and surrender our life to His Reason for our life. Our Reason is to share what God has done for us and then show others God’s love by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked,caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned. We are to become that living sacrifice for others—To Continue The Promise God Made To Abraham!
We all face pivotal moment sin our own journey of faith. This Holy Sacrament is always one of those pivotal moments in our faith journey. Moments when our journey takes us deeper into God’s breathtaking and astounding grace where we discover in new ways, or for the very first time, the heart God has for our life, and His perfect plan for our life.
His grace and plans will take us to a place we never thought possible—the place of complete release and a peace that is beyond words. This is your pivotal moment of faith—The Moment Your Breath Is Taken Away By The With Us God Who Provides The Unlimited Resources Of Grace.
I call this a pivotal moment because right now you are making the most important decision of your life: Will you choose to be closer to the With Us God, or will you choose to walk away. This is YOUR moment to come face to face with Yahweh Yireh. When you surrender to The With Us God, every place you go and every situation you face, becomes Yahweh Yireh.