((5. Oops!: God’s plan for Abraham is ridiculous, seems evil.))
INI + AMEN.
“How could this be the plan? Who’d make a plan like this? Who’d even do it!? It’s questionable at best. Really looking at it, it’s ridiculous, insane. You could almost say its demonic! That’s really the sort of plan it is. Is there another way to explain it?”
“What sort of God sets up a plan like this? Is such a God even worthy of believing in? Surely, there’s better, kinder gods out there! In fact, with a plan like this why believe in a god at all? He doesn’t just allow evil, pain, and sorrow. He even plans it!”
“How could He say this to me?” “Take your son, your only son, the one you love, Isaac, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on the mountain I tell you.” “What kind of test is that? More like a trial…”
But is that really how it was with Abraham? Is that what he thinks? We would. But based on what Abraham does and says, it doesn’t seem that way at all! We’re putting ourselves in Abraham’s shoes if we do that.
Abraham listens to God’s Word. He’s quick about it: “gets up early in the morning.” But don’t let the end of the story fool you, Abraham realizes there’s only one end to this: a dead Isaac. Abraham’s not hoping for something else. He’s a realist, I guess. That’s the force of what Abraham tells Isaac: “God Himself is already seeing to the lamb, my son.” Then we’re told for the second time, “They both go on together.” That’s telling us that Isaac figures it out—he’s the sacrifice! Still he goes! Abraham and even Isaac are apparently as crazy as God is!
((4. Does it go much better for us?))
Just think about it. If God Himself appeared to you and told you to slaughter and burn up your child, what would you do? I know what I’d do! I certainly wouldn’t get up early to get after it with that project! In fact, let’s just be honest. We’d reject God, probably to His face, if He told us to do with our child!
What’s worse is that when we look at the world, it seems to be His plan for lots of people. No matter where you travel in the world, there’s tragedies that take away people’s love ones. What kind of plan is that? What kind of God allows that? In fact, it’s happening on a scale, that it can’t just be God allowing this sort of thing to go on. He’s gotta be planning it, too! What kind of God does that? Or am I the only here one who struggles with this sort of thinking? (We usually keep those thoughts down deep.)
Yes, we should have more faith. But is that really what this text is all about? That’s the plan? For you to get over it? That you’re not God, so you just have to take what He gives you, and like it and do it? Yeah, Isaac makes it out alive, but what when that happy ending isn’t yours? What about when the cancer comes back? When your depression won’t go away? When sin or death or the trouble of life increase beyond measure? “Just have more faith. God’s got a plan. He’s just testing you.” Feels more like messing with us, doesn’t it? (Or am I really alone in thinking that way?) I don’t think so.
((3. Aha!: A RAM FOR ISAAC, A RAM FOR YOU—THAT’S THE PLAN.))
We shouldn’t think that way. Yes, we should have more trust. So, repent. But there’s no “keep calm and trust God” sort of repentance for this one. It’s all about God’s plan, but His plan for Abraham, for Isaac, for you and me isn’t for you to work up for yourself more faith and trust.
We see the plan at the end! “Abraham looked up and saw a ram there in a thicket caught by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” That’s the plan! That’s not just the plan for Abraham and Isaac, either. It’s the plan for you, too. A RAM FOR ISAAC, A RAM FOR YOU—THAT’S THE PLAN!
((2. Whee!: That was always—eternally—the plan.))
A RAM FOR ISAAC, A RAM FOR YOU—that’s Jesus. He’s the Ram. He’s the Lamb. The One who would shed His blood for Isaac, for Abraham, for you and me, too. The plan wasn’t for Isaac to die, the only beloved son of Abraham. No, there’s only one Son for that. Jesus. The Son of the Father.
The test wasn’t to see if Abraham passed. It was a test to reveal what the Lord God Himself would do for Abraham, Isaac, and all people. There’s a Ram for you. That’s always been the plan. Eternally the plan.
The Ram would come, He would shed His blood in your place. So that no matter what happens in this life, you would be died for, blood-poured-out for. No matter what happens to you or those around you. God’s plan has already happened in Jesus. Done deal. Finished. No cancer, no trouble, no worry, no death, nothing can ever change that.
Jesus didn’t do it with animal blood, but “with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Jesus is the true Ram, the true Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world. The RAM FOR ISAAC, THE RAM FOR YOU—God’s eternal plan in Jesus.
This eternal plan is acted out in the binding of Isaac. That’s one way that “Abraham saw Jesus’ day!” First Isaac, then Jesus bore the sacrificial wood on his back. Jesus Himself was bound—nailed!—to His cross at Moriah, which is Jerusalem. He’s the eternal Son of the Father. Jesus wore the crown of thorns on His head. He was crucified, died, and buried for you, for all, for Abraham and Isaac, too.
((1. Yeah!: You’ll see that Ram forever, too.))
The plan’s an eternal one. Not just from the foundation of the world, but it’s eternally everlasting, too. You will be saved. You had a Ram in your place. A RAM FOR YOU. And now you “receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” You will “never see death forever,” as Jesus promised. It has to be that way! That’s the plan! You’re died for. You’re Ram-ed for, Lamb-ed for, Jesus-ed for.
Yes, we question what happens in life, we could even be angry about it. But the plan for your life is alreay set. Not only set, but accomplished, done, finished. A RAM FOR ISAAC, A RAM FOR YOU—THAT’S THE PLAN. You reap the reward. You’ve been made holy with His blood. Washed in it. Fed with it. You won’t see death forever. You’ve tasted of His death and His resurrection, too, in the body and blood of His Supper.
He will resurrect you on the Last Day. You will see Him forever. You will rise from the dead. No more sin. No more pain. No more worry. All that’s dead and gone already. Will be gone from you forever. That’s the plan. Jesus’ plan. The plan He showed by the example of Isaac. The plan He Himself finished for you. A RAM—a Jesus!—FOR ISAAC AND FOR YOU—THAT’S THE PLAN. Mission accomplished!
INI + AMEN.