Lent Devotion for March 4
“The Lamb of God Promised”
Reader: “’Abraham!’ God called.”
Response: “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 22:1-14
22 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 on one 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.”
SCRIPTURE: John 1:29-30
29“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
In these most familiar pericopes, what insight can we gain in understanding the unfolding of God’s plan of redemption? You’ve read the story many times no doubt. Have you noticed the obedience of Abraham? “Here I am.” Those were the same words of the obedient little boy Samuel, when God called. Those were the same words of Isaiah, “Here am I, send me.” Those were the words of Moses, when confronted by God in the burning bush. There is Jacob and the encounter with the angel and Jacob’s response, “Here I am.” (Note the different response in the Garden of Eden when God called to Adam, “Where are you?”, it was not “Here I am!” Abraham’s response was one of obedience and trust. He and Isaac had traveled to Mt. Moriah, the very property purchased by King David a 1,000 years later, the place where Solomon built the Temple, and the place of the crucifixion of Jesus. The ultimate “Here I am” was in Jesus’ response to His Father in fulfilling the sacrifice of Abraham. In Jesus’ case, He was the Lamb and the Father did not withhold the knife. The Substitute God provided, was the substitute for us. Note also the great number of similarities in this story. In the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, there were two witnesses, as there always must be in Jewish law to verify the truth. There were two servants who traveled with Abraham and Isaac. Isaac carried the wood; Jesus carried the wooden cross. The sacrifice took place on the third day and Jesus conquered death and rose victorious on the third day. There is the phrase, “Take your son, your only son…” and “God so loved the world that He gave is only begotten son…” At the Transfiguration of Jesus, the words came from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” The donkey went part way on the journey to the sacrifice, but stopped short of completing the journey, as did the donkey on Palm Sunday. A donkey, incidentally, was the “vehicle of choice” for the king who came in peace. God was worshiped through the sacrifice of the lamb. Though older than Jesus, John remarked that Jesus “existed long before me.” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and, through His once for all sacrifice, imputed righteousness to all who would receive Him with the glorious result that we all become His children. Our God is magnificent in every detail. The unity of Scripture is so clear!
MUSIC: “The God of Abraham Praise" by Fernando Ortega
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Lord Jesus, may I wait on you this day and when you speak, may my words be “Here I am.” Amen.
–based on Psalm 130, Dan Sharp