FROM HARAN TO CANAAN
“Then God said, “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 of which I shall tell you.””
Isaac was the embodiment of Abraham’s friendship with God. He was the promised heir to the promised land. Why in the world would God ask Abraham such a thing? Where is the justice of God? Where is the God of love?
These are some of the questions a modern 21st Century man might ask, but as for Abraham, “(He) rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him (Genesis 22:3).” Abraham did not second guess the command, he immediately obeyed. His faith had such boldness that his mouth and heart was in perfect silence as he, his son, and his servants journeyed three day to the land of Moriah.
Abraham’s journey from Haran to Canaan was a spiritual journey more than a physical journey. As he sojourned in what seemed to be an ocean of nothingness and wandering, God was teaching him an important lesson. The way to enter the Promised Land is through Faith in the Promise Giver. James writes, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness—and he was called a friend of God (James 2:23).” Abraham might have not known the exact plan and details to his life, but as he walked in faith everyday, he discovered who his God is and as he journeyed, he found the truest Friend.
Abraham’s friendship with God is the bedrock of his radical faith. Ever increasing challenges was put in Abraham’s path. But through every stumble, every set-back, every question, and every doubt, Abraham continued to cling to God who was his friend, and all these things added up to an ever increasing intimacy between him and his God. The trip to Moriah was not an easy trip, but in Abraham’s response to Isaac’s question, we catch a glimpse of his matured, blooming friendship with God:
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
How many times have we claimed God’s name, Jehovah Jireh in prayer and not know the story from whence it comes? When Abraham uttered these words in response to his son’s heart piercing question, he was not hoping that God would provide for him wealth, success, affirmation, or even good health. When he invoked this attribute of God – that the LORD is the God that provides – Abraham, in faith and in worship, was trusting that God would provide for himself, a sacrifice that satisfies His own holiness. Abraham understood that the way of the Promised Land is through Faith in the Promise Giver. He knew for certain that God was his ultimate treasure.
The ending to this story is well-known. As Abraham lifted up the dagger to offer his own son as a burnt sacrifice, God intervened. Jehovah-Jireh himself provided for a ram to be offered as a substitute for Isaac. But this is not the end of the story. On Mount Calvary, God who is the better Abraham, offered Jesus, his own Son, the better Isaac, as a sacrifice that satisfies His justice. The difference is, however, is that when God lifted His arm to slay His own Son, no one intervened.
The Christian life consists of taking faith-filled risks everyday. But when challenges get tough, we are often tempted to question the goodness, the justice, and the love of God. Abraham, in his defining test, did not question the person of God, because through every chapter of his journey, he grew deeper in his intimate knowledge of the God who is his friend. Do you know God this way? Remember what the Bible says, “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness—and he was called a friend of God (James 2:23).”