The Mountain of Mercy
A couple of weeks ago we looked at one of the most poignant moments in the Torah, Genesis 22, in which Abraham is given an extreme test of faith by God. God says to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I shall tell you” (22:2). This is an intrinsically devastating request that intentionally strikes a nerve with anyone reading the Scriptures. It couldn’t be more clear that which God stated for Abraham to do – and it’s this clarity which makes us so uncomfortable with it. Surely God meant something else? Surely he reassured Abraham that it would all work out in the end? Surely God wouldn’t be so seemingly blunt, cruel, and heartless? Right? RIGHT?!
But we keep reading – and all we get in the way of answers from God is silence. No reassurance. No further clarification. Just a three day desert journey to the mountain in Moriah.
But the silence in the text, the waiting, the desire for answers – all of it is designed with purpose. The purpose for us is to make us ask the question – What do I really believe about God? Do I really trust him? Do I really believe he’s good?
And then, right before the penultimate moment in the text – we get a glimpse into the way that Abraham is processing God’s request. Amidst all his fears, questions, and longings for God to speak – he states to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (22:5). In the midst of the silence, Abraham speaks words of faith that are so profound he doesn’t fully understand them. Words that will echo for eternity. Abraham believes that God can, and WILL, resurrect the dead.
Now, we know the rest of the story – God provides a ram (a crowned lamb) to be sacrificed in Isaac’s stead. In commemoration of God’s wonderful provision, Abraham names Mount Moriah – “The LORD shall provide.”
Fast forward thousands of years – God asked another son to be sacrificed on top of a hill. After speaking to Him in a garden – this son also walked in silence towards His impending death. The same faith that Abraham placed in God, the very son of God had in His Father. Crowned with thorns, the Lamb of God carried His cross outside of the city gates of Jerusalem to a hill where he would be slaughtered. He knew that He Himself would be the way that God would provide. In the silence leading to the cross – the Son of God, Jesus, had faith that God can, and WILL resurrect the dead.
Church – this is our blessed hope – on the Mountain of Mercy, God provided a Lamb in our stead, and three days later He rose Him to new life. Death could not hold Him, because God is a God of resurrection power. And he offers that power to any who would, by faith, trust Him. Just like Abraham did, and just like Christ did.
I am looking forward to looking closely at this Mountain of Mercy with you this Friday at our Good Friday service, and the following Resurrection Sunday Church Gathering. In the meantime – another very worthwhile resource for preparing your heart during passion week would be to go and see “His Only Son,” a movie that follows the story of Abraham offering his son Isaac, which is showing in all week in local theaters. I have not yet seen it myself, but have heard STELLAR reviews about how closely it follows the Genesis 22 account.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Ryan A.