Dr. Ed Young - God Will Provide
The theme of this Scripture is Jehovah-jireh, God will provide. So, when I say Jehovah-jireh in the service, you will answer... Jehovah-jireh. "Now it came to pass after these things". After these things is where we begin as we ascend Mount Mariah. In 1953, May the 28th, 11:30 a.m., Sir Edmund Hillary ascended to the top of the world. He climbed the top of Mount Everest after an almost impossible climb up with his friend, his guide. Ice, storm, cold, rain, lack of oxygen, fatigue, slides. Sheer effort, he reached the top, the top of the world, 29,002 feet. No human being will ever climb higher than that.
That's the apex. That's the highest that anyone will ever climb. Unless you would climb the mountain we're going up today, Mount Moriah. And we have two men, Abraham and Isaac, Isaac meaning laughter, climbing that mountain. And spiritually, Moriah is the highest mountain you can ascend in the Old Testament. In fact, you move to the New Testament, it is on the same Mount Moriah you found Mount Calvary, and that's the highest mountain anytime, anywhere, any place. Same mountain. Perhaps the same place. Jehovah-jireh. Jehovah-jireh.
So we look at Genesis 22, verse 1 says, "Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here am I.' After these things..." What are these things? We read the Chronological Bible beginning in chapter 12, all the way through to chapter 22. That's the life of Abraham, and what a life. Here he was at Ur of the Chaldees between the Tigris and Euphrates River. A decadent place, a godless place, a pagan place. And God called Abraham to come out of Ur, and to go to the promised land, and to build a nation, a people. And you read in Hebrews chapter 11, he said Abraham was to find a city and to build a city who has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Foundations. And that was a quest. That was the faith of Abraham. He left everything he'd known. He left all the history, everything behind him, and he climbed that mountain. He went there all the way to a promised land. And we read about it. Abraham was known as a friend of God. Let me tell you something. You can't do better than that. Who's your buddy? God. Who's your best friend? God. And he's known that all the way through the Bible. And we see he got to the promised land with his nephew, Lot. And you read Lot, notice this. Lot pitched his tent and then he built his altar. Abraham always built his altar and then he pitched his tent. We operate like that. We get our things together, then, "Oh, yes, we're going to worship". Or we start off and say, "I'm going to worship," and then out of worship, "I'm going to get all my stuff together".
Built an altar, pitched his tent. That was Abram, and what a life he lived. God blessed him. He was prosperous. Man, he fought battles to rescue his nephew, Lot, and he went into Sodom and Gomorrah, and he tried to negotiate with God and be the mediator so the judgment would not come down upon those decadent, godless people. What a guy, quite a man. And the angel spoke to him earlier and said, "Abram, you're going to be the father of a great nation". And his name then was called Abram, which means big time father, foremost father. The angel said, We don't call you that anymore.
By the way, people meet Abram and said, "Man, you're called foremost father. How many children do you have"? He said, "Not a one". Oh. Then the angel said, "We're gonna name you Abraham, which means father of multitudes, father of many". And he said, "Well, what's your name"? "Abraham". "How many children you have, you father of multitudes"? "I don't have a one". So, they'd see him coming. "There's Abraham. He calls himself the father of many. He doesn't even have a single offspring. What a goose. What a joke". But Abraham believed God.
But the last time God told him and said, "Abraham, father of many, you're gonna have that promised son and he's going to redeem the world. He's gonna build a peculiar people who love me and follow me. He is going to be the progenitor of a whole new congregation of God-fearing people that'll go all the way through eternity". And Abraham said, "You know," as he talked with angel, "it's getting a little late. I'm 100 years old. My wife is 90. I mean, you know, it's a little late for this. I don't know what you're talking about, but by faith I'm gonna... you know, I believe ya". And Abraham laughed. Don't know what that laugh was. Later on, another angel reaffirmed that promise, and Sarah, behind the curtains, his wife, she laughed. She said, "I'm 90 years old. I'm going to have a baby? He's 100. My goodness, we... whoo, no, no, no, no". She laughed.
But guess what? Sarah got pregnant and then a baby was born. And they named him what? Laughter. That's what Isaac means. So they had a little laughter and they were thrilled. Unbelievable. Laughter. Now the son of promise. Now it is through him the Messiah would come. What a promise. And then we see that he was tested. Fortissimo. These musicians know that word. It's a musical word. That's what the word "tested" means there in the Greek, fortissimo. It means with passion. It means with, voom. Man, all the way, it was a test that was severe, overwhelming. Fortissimo, passionate test. The passion that Clay Walker has when he sings, right? Fortissimo, that's it. And he was tested. It's important that we know this.
And that's what the first verse tells us. God says, "Abraham"! and Abraham answered and said, "Lord, I'm right here". And then we see the test that happens and it begins with a conflict. Look at verse 2. Then God said, "Take now your son, your only son Laughter, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you". Offer Laughter as a burnt offering? And a burnt offering, ladies and gentlemen, they would take all of the animal, all of the animal, and put it totally on the altar, and let the fire consume it completely. That was a burnt offering. And that's what God asked Abraham to do. Unbelievable, isn't it? Go take Laughter, the promised one.
And then we have (follow me carefully) a conflict, a conflict between the promise of God, "Laughter is going to bring all the truth of God, the revelation of God, with a new kind of people," and now we have a command that says, "Take laughter and put him on the altar as a burnt offering". So here's God's promise and God's command, and they're in conflict with one another. How's this gonna happen? Jehovah-jireh. Jehovah-jireh.
Elisabeth Elliot was visiting in Northern Ireland and she visited a sheep farm or ranch. And she saw there the shepherd was taking the sheep and putting them in vats, vats that were held with all kind of medicinal oils to rid the sheep of parasites and other things. And she watched a shepherd take the sheep, and put them in the vat, and put them down, and they'd come up, and he'd put them down again. And she said, "I wonder what that sheep thought. Here's my shepherd now tryin' to kill me".
Ladies and gentlemen, sometimes what we may interpret that God is trying to kill us, he's really trying to save us. So here we have a conflict between the promise of God and the command of God. How does this work? How does this happen? I've gone to the Lord many times. You have too, and you have thanked him for when he said yes to us. "Lord, I pray that this will happen," and he said yes. "Lord, I ask that you would guide me," and he said yes. We thank him when we petition to him and he says yes. But how many times have we thanked him when we petitioned him when he said no? If Keith, when he proposed to that girl and she turned him down, what if they had gotten married? Thank God that God said, "No, this isn't the one".
Most of us could have that testimony. We've gone to the Lord and said, "God, you know, I know this is your will. I pray believing that you do this," and God said no. And I don't understand those big no's in my life. You don't understand it either. But one day when we get to heaven, we'll look back and we'll understand when God said no and we'll thank him for that no. When he says yes, it's easy to thank him, but it is the no's that gets us. Let me tell you something, folks. There's nowhere in the Bible that says that we're to be healthy, wealthy, wise, prosperous, and live long lives. If you'll find that passage, would you bring it and show it to me after service? You can't find it because it's not there.
God is in control of life. Some are brief, some are long, some are tragic, some are full. You see, our purpose is to glorify the Lord and we do that by seeking him and understanding one thing, Jehovah-jireh. So we have the test, severe test. Take your boy, climb that mountain, make him a burnt offering. And then we have the obedience. This is stunning to me. God gives this breathtaking command, and look at the next verse here. "Abraham rose up early in the morning". Man, the next day. "Saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him".
By the way, after one of our services, Clay asked me, "Why did they cut the wood right at the beginning of their trip and Laughter had to carry, 18 years old probably, all that wood on his back all the way up to Moriah, a three day journey"? And I said, "You know, I've never known..." then I knew exactly why. This is a shadow of Jesus carrying his wood up that same cross as he died for you and me. As the Father offered him a burnt offering, a living sacrifice on that altar for your sin and for my sin. They went up the mountain, and then notice this.
This verse is so very interesting. "Then on the third day," verse four, "Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place far off. And Abraham said to his young men..." two went with him beside his son. "And Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey; and the Lad and I, we will go yonder and worship, we will worship,'" and look at this, "we will come back to you. We will go, Laughter and I, we will worship, Laughter and I, and we will come back to you". But the command was to take Isaac and burn him up and make him up a burnt offering. What's goin' on here? You got a conflict here.
How does it work? I sing a little chorus to myself usually. It goes like, "Are there any valleys that seem to be uncrossable? Are there any mountains you cannot tunnel through? No, God specializes on things that seem impossible. He knows a thousand ways to make a way for you". So we have this conflict. We will go, we will worship, will come back. We'll come back? Man, Isaac, Laughter, is to be a burnt offering on this mountain. Now, we understand that. We read it through with jaundiced eyes. Soren Kierkegaard wrote a little book called, "Fear and Trembling," and in this book, Kierkegaard says he doesn't get this story. He's saying it's a horrific story, a father asked to burn up his son. And he just says... boy, he talks about the obedience of Abraham, how exacting it was.
And a lot of people stumble over this test, but it's because we don't understand it in the context of how Abraham saw it. Follow me. In that day, people didn't think individually. They thought in terms of family. And therefore, when the head of the family would die, he would leave most or all of his inheritance to the firstborn. Why? If he sorted it out to all the individuals, they had 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15 children, all the power in the family would be dissipated. But if they stayed together and the firstborn would control that family and be the progenitor there of the family, man, that gave them, that's the way it worked in the Middle East.
And you read in the Bible, what were the Jews taught to do? What were all the other cultures taught to do? You give to God that which is first. The fruit would come in, they'd give firstfruits to God. The harvest, the grain would come in. They'd give the first part of the harvest to God. And look there, remember the plagues in Egypt? What was one of the plagues? A judgment on the Egyptians, "Your firstborn will be killed". Ooh, but the Israelites escaped that. How? Because a lamb was killed and a lamb became the substitute for the firstborn. And therefore, when Abraham heard the call to present Laughter, Isaac, as the firstborn, as a burnt offering, it wasn't like God said, "Abraham, I want you to go to the tent and kill Isaac, Laughter".
He'd say, "No, that's not the voice of God. I had too many falafels last night". I mean, God wouldn't do that. "Abraham, I want you to go kill Sarah". No, God would never do that. But when he said, "Abraham, I want you to go offer Isaac, your firstborn, as an offering," he got that. He got that. He understood that. That's in the principle of the whole posture that we work through here. See, a totally different thing to... and by the way, Isaac, Laughter, got it as well. Look at the next passage. Oh, the passage of the lamb. "So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac, Laughter, his son; and he took the fire in his hand, a knife, and the two of them went together. And Laughter spoke to Abraham his father and said, 'My father!' He said, 'Here I am, my son.' Then he said, 'Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?'"
Abraham answered, "I don't know. I don't know". But he said, "Jehovah-jireh". Oh yeah, Jehovah-jireh. "I don't know where the offering is, and you're supposed to be the burnt offering," but he didn't know how this was going to happen. "And he said, 'God will provide for him the lamb for a burnt offering.' So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son," 18-year-old, 19-year-old son, much stronger and more powerful than his dad without any question.
Isaac knew he was the firstborn. He understood what was going on and not what exactly was going to take place. "And he bound Laughter his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took a knife to slay his son. But the angel called to him from heaven and said, 'Abraham, Abraham!'" And the Lord said, "I'm sure glad to hear from you. Here I am. Here I am". And then look what happens. "And God said, 'Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, there you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.' And Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and behold there was a ram caught in a thicket by the horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering. And Abraham called the place Jehovah-jireh".
You see what's going on? God knew the firstborn was to be given to him and he says, "Abraham, you've taken little Laughter and I want to make sure he hasn't taken my place in your heart, he hasn't become an idol. He hasn't become what all your life revolves around this 18 or 19 years you've had this son of promise. He is the firstborn. I want you to take firstborn and submit it to me as a burnt offering". And God saw the willingness of Abraham and then God knew that he was now first place and nothing was ahead of him in the heart and the mind of Abraham. Beautiful thing.
George Jagger, you might remember the story, tragic story. George took his father and three sons out into the Atlantic fishing and a storm came. Six foot waves. The water was filling in the boat and he had all the Jagger boys put on their life jackets, tied them together, went into the ocean. They fought the waves. They couldn't make it to shore. The youngest son, Cliff, at the bottom, he finally said, "I can't fight any longer. I'm going to Jesus". And that father watched his youngest die, his next son, his next son, and then his daddy died tied close to him. Nine hours later, he swam to shore, never cutting loose any of his family, though he knew they were dead.
George Jagger saw, as a dad, all his father die and his boys die. And he saw them as they died, died with confidence because he built into them Jesus. Laughter got on that altar, why? Because he'd been on that altar. He had been a worshiper. He'd watched his dad worship. He'd been many times with his dad. He knew he could be that offering. He knew he was a miracle son. He knew if somehow he was killed that God would bring him back to life again. He didn't have any problem. He was taught to climb and live his life on an altar. Parents, that's what we must build in our kids so when the bottom of their lives falls out or the bottom of our lives falls out, when we want God to say yes and he says no, they will see that we have a firm foundation on Jesus Christ that is beyond this life and beyond the suffering of the day.
Two little principles. That which you and I grip the tightest, that which we make most important, most valuable for us to go on, for us to live, whatever that which you and I grip the tightest is that in all probability we need to give to God. Because that which we hold on the tight... I couldn't have this without this. I wouldn't want to live without this person, this thing. Oh, that which we hold on the tightest is probably where the testing will come and that which we need to give to God. Second word. That which we surrender and give to God we will receive back a greater treasure, hopefully in this life, but certainly in eternity. Jehovah-jireh. Jehovah-jireh. Jehovah-jireh.