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  • Writer's pictureRev. Gerald (Jerry) Reiter, Emeritus

On The Mountain, The Lamb

Second Wednesday in Lent


Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”


“Here I am,” he replied.


Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac - and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”


Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”


Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”


“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.


“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”


Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.


When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”


“Here I am,” he replied.


“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”


Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Genesis 22:1-14


Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”


Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”


Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”


He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”


When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.


Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Matthew 26:36-46



In the Garden of Eden, in the shade of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Almighty God cursed the seducing Satan. “I will make you and the seed of the woman enemies. You will bruise his heel, but he will crush your head.”


Satan had reason to tremble. From that moment on, his days of walking to and fro upon the earth were numbered. The woman and the man, however, had reason to hope. When Eve, with the promise of the Seed strong in her memory, beheld Cain and marveled, “With the help of God, I have brought forth a man.”


But Cain was not the Promised One. Generations would come and go. Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Heber, Terah – all carried the seed. One night Abraham received the news from God that he had the seed in him. It would be through Abraham that all the nations of the earth should be blessed. So there was a plan for Abraham’s move from Ur of the Chaldees to the new land. God was preparing the world to fulfill His ancient promise.


But the years were rolling on, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had bore him no children. So Sarah encouraged Abraham to father an offspring by Hagar, her Egyptian maidservant. A child was born to Hagar, and Abraham was reassured. The possibility of the seed from his loins was a reality. He had fathered a son – but it was not the son of the promise.


Still the years passed. Abraham neared 100 years of age. The promise of God hung in the balance. Surely it was too late, too late! Once more He promised the child, through whom the seed should be passed on. The whole idea was preposterous. He was 99, Sarah was 90, their time of fertility had faded.


But nothing is too hard for the Lord. Sarah conceived. They named the child Isaac, which means “laughter,” for Sarah’s joy was beyond containing. Isaac was not the Promised One, but at least the seed would pass through yet another generation. The promise made so long ago in the Garden was justified.


And Sarah and Abraham laughed as the child grew, as he developed into manhood. They laughed more often at the wonder of God who made and kept His promises, for through their only son, the son of promise, the son of their old age, God had indeed kept the promise alive another time.


Then came the testing time! God came to Abraham with an awesome request: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” The God of promises became the God of the dreadful command. The God of the First Commandment demanded choice. “Choose, Abraham! Me or Isaac!” Oh, fateful day!


But Abraham had mad his choice long ago. He would serve the living God. The next morning they started out in the direction of Moriah. No word is recorded of the conversations on the three-day journey. On the third day Abraham told his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”


Abraham had his son carry the wood for the sacrifice. Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” And Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” “Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.”


Was he really going to kill Isaac? You betcha! Listen to what the writer to the Hebrews wrote: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” (Hebrews 11:17-19)


“Abraham! Abraham!” an angel of the Lord intervened, right at that precarious moment. “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” The testing time was over. Abraham had been faithful to the end!


“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram. He sacrificed it instead of his son. And I think that Abraham and Isaac sang and danced before the altar. And they thanked God. And they praised God. And a strong faith was made stronger; and a growing faith grew mightily. And as the worship time came to an end, Abraham named the place. Jehovah-Jireh, which means “God will provide.”


A ram is caught in the brambles; a substitute has been found. The Son of God has become entangled in the terrible arms of the cross; a substitute has been offered.


Lay hold of that Lamb and set Him on your altar before God. Let Him carry your sins. Let Him pay for your sins on the cross. The Lamb, bound by nails, is offered; God’s offering to God; the Son’s offering to the Father. Our sins are paid for. We are redeemed and free. God truly is love. And the gift of God is everlasting life to all who know and believe in the substitution Lamb.


We have a journey to make. It starts at the place where God provided that other Lamb, His only-begotten Son. The destination is the mansions He has prepared for us. Again we read in Hebrews that Abraham and his ancestors “were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16)


Good friends in Christ the Lamb, hand-in-hand we journey to that better country. Praise the Lord!


Amen

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