Lent Week 1. Genesis 22:1-18)


Rev. David Domanski.

2/18/20244 min read

“Why?” We have probably all asked the question at one point or another when we’ve been hit with a seemingly unbearable trial in our lives. What is happening just doesn’t make sense and we wonder: “How could this be happening to me? Why is this happening to me? How am I going to get through this?”

And when we read our Old Testament Reading for today, it would seem that Abraham would certainly be justified in asking of God, “Why?” But in our text we discover that even when we’re asking, “Why?” God is at work in the midst of life’s trials.

Our lesson doesn’t tell us that Abraham asked, “Why?” at God’s command, but one must assume that it made little sense to Abraham, even if he did assume that it was God’s way of testing his faith (vv 1-2). Isaac was the son God had given Abraham and Sarah in their old age. She had been barren and Sarah had even resorted to using her maid, Hagar, to give Abraham a son (16:1). Abraham was age 100 and Sarah was 90 when Isaac was born (17:17; 21:5), and it must have been assumed that Isaac was the only possible heir who would continue God’s covenant promise to Abraham (17:1–7, 16). Because Isaac was the ONLY son, whom he had waited for 100 years, and because he was a God-fearing child, Abraham loved Isaac. How could God ask for such a painful sacrifice?

But to our surprise, Abraham responds to God’s order to offer up Isaac with faith and obedience (v 3). And maybe Abraham’s faithfulness to God and his desire to fulfill God’s command leads us to question Abraham, asking, “Why?” Why doesn’t it bother you that you’re being asked to give up the dream and joy of being a parent?

While we never get direct answers to these questions of, “Why?” from the Word of God, Abraham’s actions give words that speak to his faith in God. Abraham had always trusted God. Abraham had picked up all his belongings and family and gone from the Persian Gulf to Haran. He allowed God to lead him from Haran to what would later be the Promised Land. Abraham had demonstrated total trust in God in most, but not all, of the critical moments in his life. And because Abraham had learned to completely trust in our always faithful God, Abraham trusted God now. He trusted God in spite of the past challenges in receiving a son. He trusted in spite of the future plans God predicted through that son (see Heb 11:17–19).

And even though God gave Abraham and Isaac three days as they journeyed to the altar of sacrifice, Abraham did as God commanded (vv 4–8). And when his beloved son asked “where is the lamb?” it probably broke Abraham’s heart, and yet he continued to act in faith.

And this leads us to God’s response to Abraham’s question of, “Why?” God doesn’t give him or us an answer that we will follow up with and endless stream of more, “Whys,” but God tells us instead that “[He] will provide the lamb.” This is God’s answer to any “Why?” that we have or ever will have—“I will provide the lamb” in Abraham’s day, and “I have provided the Lamb” in our day. Abraham received a ram and a promise of God’s true Lamb, and we have received the Anointed One, the True Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

As payment for our sins, a sacrifice is demanded by God. And out of His astounding love, God’s promise to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and you and me of “I will” is fulfilled in the cross of Jesus (Rom 5:8). Whereas we, in our brokenness and sinfulness cannot offer our actions or lives as fitting sacrifice to God to save our own souls or the lives of those we love, God’s salvation is offered freely for our redemption in the person of Jesus. God be praised!

In the end, with God’s faithfulness proven to Abraham once again, and having relief and joy returned to an anxious father and son, Abraham is inspired to call the place of his testing, “The Lord will provide.” The name is a reminder to Abraham and to us “to this day” that God works in the midst of our worried questions of “Why?” and faithfully provides us with His assurances that “[He] will provide” (v 14). God will provide for you when you endure trials, and God will also provide for others who observe your trials. It is through experiencing life’s trials and through helping others in them that we see God’s unending love for us and recognize that Jesus has blessed us with every good and gracious gift that we need for good days and bad. His grace is always sufficient to provide for our daily needs.

We have all uttered the word “Why?” when we faced a serious trial in life. In those times, God turns our focus away from ourselves and toward Him and His Son. For we know that God is at work in the midst of trials. God works in us and through us to accomplish His purposes. So perhaps instead of “Why?” a more appropriate question might be, “Lord, what do you wish to accomplish in me and through me?” May God give us the faith by which he will work in us and through us, especially during those times when we are tempted to ask, “Why?” Amen.