“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering…” “…Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”…He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. …“On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22 (selected portions)
Prove That You Love Me
“Prove that you love me!” That challenge was given to a man named Abraham by God himself in an episode recorded in Genesis chapter 22. Does it surprise you, maybe even disgust or anger you, that God would choose such a test to measure Abraham’s love and devotion? It sure seems like an unfair, even immoral choice he was left to make. “Who is more important to you, Abraham? Your God or your son?” It is amazing to see how Abraham passed the test. He had every intention of sacrificing his own son! Proving that his allegiance to the Lord was foremost and genuine.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength! It doesn’t take a long, hard look at our lives and our choices to see that we have failed that test—and in ways much less difficult than what was presented to Abraham. How often is the thought of God and his desires absent from our life choices? Personal pleasures and pursuits rule the day and the choices made in it. Far from proving our unfailing love to God in the way we live, do we instead find ourselves shouting back at him in defensive accusation: “Oh yeah, God? Why should I pay attention to you or live for you? Why don’t you prove your love to me?!”
As an answer from God to those questions, this ancient story has a deeper meaning and fulfillment. To Isaac’s question about the sacrifice they were going to offer, Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” As Abraham proved his deep love for the Lord with his willingness to sacrifice his son, God did provide an animal for Abraham to sacrifice as a substitute for his son. This foreshadowed the great event in the future when God the Father would provide and accept the sacrifice of his beloved Son—the Lamb of God as a substitute for the world of sinners.
Does God love you? One of the most well-known passages of the Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son! For those who haven’t kept even the first and most basic command of God—to love him first and best—God sent his Son to enter their world as the suitable, substitute sacrifice. God did not withhold from us his dearest treasure, but offered him up as a payment for human sin. Instead of banishing us from his sight because of our sin, he provided needed forgiveness and acceptance through the willingness of Jesus to suffer in our place. Jesus went to a mount called Calvary to give his life in place of ours. We can truly say that on the mountain of the Lord, God’s love has been provided to us. See there the ultimate proof that God loves you. And then be amazed at how he works in you a genuine love for him who loved you first!
Lord God, heavenly Father, I have often failed the test of showing love and devotion to you. Forgive me for the sake of Jesus, your dear Son, whom you sent into my world to be my Savior. Help me to see in him your unfailing love and forgiveness. Help me to respond with a life of love to you, because you have loved me first and best. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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