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Caught in a Thicket (The Glory of God’s Provision)
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Some commands of God are mystifying. For example, how could God tell Abraham to slaughter his only son? This atrocity was also committed in ancient Egypt, where the Pharaoh ordered that all Israelite boys be drowned, so that no one could grow up and rival his authority. Similarly, Canaanites offered up their own children in the fire as a way to appease the gods. But God calls that practice “detestable,” and an “abomination.” How, then, could God command Abraham to do the same thing?
Questions for Discussions & Discovery
1. Read James 1:13. How do we reconcile what James says with Gen. 22:1, and God’s clear intent to “test” Abraham?
2. What words would you use to describe Abraham’s obedience in v. 3? How would you characterize your own obedience to God (to His difficult commands)? Would you use similar descriptors?
3. Why did Abraham tell his traveling companions that he and his son would both “come again” to them (v. 5), even though he was on his way to kill his son? What did he think God might do?
4. In what ways have you seen your trust in God grow over the past months? Years? What has prompted your deepened reliance on Him?
5. What is significant about the ram caught in a thicket in v. 13? How does the ram’s death “instead of” Isaac point to God’s greatest provision?
1. “Few narratives…can equal this story in dramatic tension. Abraham’s every action is described in exaggerated detail.” – John Sailhamer
2. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” – James 1:13
3. 01. Testing exposes our heart’s true resting place; that is, trials reveal what we are actually putting our trust in.
4. 02. Faith in God’s future grace—fueled by gratitude for (and a recognition of) God’s past grace—enables joyful obedience.
5. “For the great source of grief to [Abraham] was not his own bereavement, not that he was commanded to slay his only heir, the hope of future and memorial and of name… but that, in the person of this son, the whole salvation of the world seemed to be extinguished and perish.” – John Calvin
6. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” – Heb. 11:17-19
7. “Is there any facet of Abraham’s inner thoughts, feelings, doubts, fears, hopes, dreams, musings, predispositions…or tendencies that God does not know absolutely, perfectly and certainly?” – Bruce Ware
8. 03. In the lamb, a ransom is found for the doomed, an acceptable substitute for the death-bound.
9. “[Take] a lamb shall be without blemish… and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.” – Exodus 12
10. “But God made the supreme sacrifice which he prevented Abraham from making; he gave his only Son in order to save his world and his people.” – Sidney Greidanus