God Will Provide

Genesis 22:1-19

Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

Two solitary figures worked their way up the mountain in the early morning light, a father and his son, walking side by side. In the father’s hand, a flaming torch and a knife. On his son’s shoulders the wood for the burnt offering. “Father, here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering,” the son asks innocently wondering. How Father Abraham’s heart must have ached within him! He knew what God had ordered, that he sacrifice his son, the promised one. But Abraham was faithful, full of faith. “The Lord will provide the lamb, my son.”

The two reach the mountaintop, and Abraham builds an altar, sets the wood in place, and binds his son Isaac to the altar. He takes the knife and is ready to bring it down to the throat of his son, the promised son. But the angel of the Lord intervenes. “Stop. Don’t do it! Don’t do anything to the boy!” And there is the thicket of wood is a ram, a substitute sacrifice. Abraham called the place Yahweh Yireh – The Lord will provide.

Where is the Lamb? That’s the theme of the entire Old Testament in a single question. Where is the Lamb for sacrifice? The Passover lamb, whose blood was painted on the doorposts of Israel’s household as Death passed over and the Israelites walked into freedom through the blood of the lamb. The Lord will provide.

Think of all the lambs and sheep and bulls and goats offered up for the sins of Israel. Every morning and evening. Think of the Day of Atonement, when the high priest stood in the most holy place before the ark with the blood of the sacrifice, atoning for the sin of Israel. Where is the Lamb? The Lord will provide.

We are a more “sophisticated people.” Our religions no longer run thick with blood but clear with distlled abstractions and vague spiritualities. We no longer offer blood for sin, and so we forget the cost, the price that must be paid. We go free, and so we imagine that grace is free. It isn’t. It’s free to us but not to God.

Father, where is the Lamb for the sacrifice?

There He is, a swaddled infant lying in a manger. There He is, a young boy growing up in his father’s carpenter shop, studying Torah with His teachers, astounding the teachers of the temple at his Bar Mitzvah. 

There He is in the Jordan River, dripping wet with our sin – yours and mine. As Sinless one among sinners. Baptized as the Substitute Sinner for us all. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He became Sin for us, though He knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 

There He is, the itinerant rabbi and worker of wonders, teaching in the synagogue, healing diseases, casting out the demons, opening blind eyes and deaf ears, loosing tongues, cleansing lepers, raising the dead. Doing battle with the darkness, absorbing the brokennes of our world of terror, evil, violence, disorder, taking it all into His once for all death in order to restore us, make us whole again, and raise us up.

Father, where is the Lamb for the sacrifice?

There He is, caught up on the wood of the cross, the Substitute, the Promised One, the only Son of the Father. How it must have broken the Father’s heart! Again, the blood stains the wood, His cross is the doorway to freedom and life. Where His blood is, there Death passes over, there sins are atoned for, and the people of God walk out of prison to freedom.

He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our inquities, and His wounds are our healing. His head, pierced with thorns, for the insanity of our sin and for the healing of our minds. His back and His cheeks, bruised by the blows inflicted on Him by those who hated Him for His loving them, for our inhumanity, our cruelty and hatred, for the blows we have inflicted upon others and for those inflicted upon us. His hands and feet – pierced by the nail, for the healing of our work and our walk. His side pierced by the sword – the source of baptismal water and Eucharistic wine that bring healing from Sin and Death.

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us Thy peace.