God on the Spot – Part 3: The Promise
By Dianne E. Butts
After God put Himself on the spot by promising to send a Messiah in Genesis 3:15, He then promised to bring that Messiah through the bloodline of one elderly, childless family: Abram and Sarai.
In Genesis 15:4-5, God promised childless Abram “a son coming from your own body” and offspring as numerous as the stars.
Time passed. No son.
Eventually old Abe and Sarai began to think they were on the spot to produce descendants. So they took matters into their own hands and Abe produced a descendant with their handmaiden, Hagar. Abe was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16).
But this was not God’s plan. And Ishmael was not the son of God’s promise.
God was still on the spot to bring about His true plan.
In the next verse (17:1), Abram is ninety-nine years old. And still childless.
God again confirms His covenant with Abram, saying, “You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram [which mean “exalted father”]; your name will be Abraham [which means “father of many”]” (vs. 4-5).
Can’t you just hear the snickers down at the local pub? “He changed his name to what? Father of many?! He’s ninety-nine years old! Sarai is eighty-nine. And they think they’re going to have kids at this point?”
God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah and promised she would be the mother of nations and kings (vs. 15-16), just like He had promised Abraham (v. 6).
God said, “…your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him…” (v. 19, emphasis mine).
Abraham’s son with Sarah was born when Abraham was one hundred years old (Genesis 21:5) and Sarah was ninety (Genesis 17:17) and they named him “he laughs”: Isaac.
The true son: Ishmael or Isaac? Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was a descendant of Abraham through Ishmael and we could say Muslim’s are his “spiritual” descendants. But God, in Genesis 17:19 and 21:12, confirmed the son of His promise was Isaac, the son produced through Abraham’s marriage with Sarah.
Because God put Himself on the spot to provide Messiah through the bloodline of Abraham, God, not anyone else, was on the spot to protect that bloodline once it was produced. That’s why it is so shocking that God would call Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise, on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22:2.
God required the sacrifice. But God also required the Messiah be produced through the bloodline of Abraham, then Isaac.
God put Himself on the spot to figure out how to both accomplish the sacrifice He now required and preserve the bloodline.
How was God going to pull this off?
When Isaac asked Abraham, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7), “Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb…’” (22:8, NIV).
I love the way the King James Version translates this verse: “My son, God will provide himself a lamb…”
God will provide Himself a lamb.
Yes, God will provide for Himself the sacrificial lamb that He requires.
But also, God will provide Himself: a lamb.
God will provide Himself! “John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’” (John 1:29)!
Next month—April: “God on the Spot – Part 4: The Provision” When famine hits the land and the descendants of Abraham are in danger of starving to death, God is on the spot to protect the bloodline to Messiah.
© 2010 Dianne E. Butts
Because she enjoys studying God’s Word in depth and then sharing what she learns with others, Dianne’s motto is “gathering manna and giving it out.” She has written for over 50 Christian print magazines and fifteen books including Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Best Stories of Faith (2008) and God Encounters: Stories of His Involvement in Life’s Greatest Moments (Howard Books, 2009). Her work has appeared in Great Britain, Bulgaria, Poland, Canada, and Korea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys riding her motorcycle with her husband, Hal, and gardening with her cat, P.C. The trio lives in Colorado. www.DianneEButts.com www.DeliverMeBook.blogspot.com