Have you ever been asked to do something really hard? What was it? Did you do it?
God asked Abraham to do something really hard, maybe the hardest thing ever.
But before we talk about what God asked Abraham to do, let’s review a little bit. Do you remember who Abraham was?
God chose to bring salvation for the whole world through Abraham and his family. The promise that God made to Adam and Eve, the promise to send a hero to defeat the Devil and conquer our sin, would now come true through Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham. Do you remember what that means? God became Abraham’s friend and made promises to Abraham. God promised to give Abraham and his wife Sarah a little boy. And so they waited, and waited, and waited for years and years until that little boy came.
His name was Isaac.
When Isaac was born, Abraham and Sarah were very happy. They knew that God had kept his promise and they knew that God could do anything. They loved Isaac very much and they had learned to trust God.
But then God asked Abraham to do that very hard thing. Listen to what God asked Abraham to do:
Genesis 22:2. “[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.”
What did God ask Abraham to do?
God told Abraham to take Isaac up on top of a mountain and kill him, offering him as a sacrifice to God. Do you know what a sacrifice is? A sacrifice is something that dies in our place. That’s called a substitute. A substitute takes the place of someone else.
God was showing Abraham that his sin required a sacrifice. A substitute. Someone who would take his place and die for his sin. Isaac would be Abraham’s substitute. Isaac would have to die for the sins of Abraham and his family.
But then something amazing happened! Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, Jesus stopped him. Jesus called down from heaven and told Abraham to stop. And then the Bible says that Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a bush. And so he took that ram and sacrificed it instead of Isaac. The ram became Isaac’s substitute! Yay!
And then listen to what Abraham said next:
Genesis 22:14. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
What does all this mean?
It means that all of us have sinned and we all need someone to be our substitute. Our sacrifice.
But read Genesis 22:14 again. Abraham said the Lord WILL provide. Yes, God provided a ram to be Isaac and Abraham’s substitute that day. But the truth is that a ram can’t be the substitute for a person. There will need to be a human substitute. A person will have to be our sacrifice. And Abraham believed that the Lord would provide that person.
And now we believe that God HAS provided that person – Jesus! The same Jesus who stopped Abraham from killing Isaac that day, would one day come and die for our sins on that same exact mountain. Jesus would come to take away all our sins and give us his very own life and his very own love when we trust in him.
As you grow up God will ask you to do some very hard things too. Like loving others that are hard to love. But remember, when we love others we are pointing to Jesus, just like Isaac did. And when we fail to love others, we have a substitute just like Isaac did too. Not a ram but God himself, Jesus our substitute.
Because of Jesus I can know that God has provided a substitute for my sins.
With Jesus I can love others even when it’s hard.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Watch this scene from the Lion King (warning: it’s the scary one where Mufasa dies).
Ask: how does Mufasa sacrifice himself for Simba? How is he Simba’s substitute?
Talk about how Jesus sacrificed himself for us, but didn’t stay dead. He came back to life so that we can share his eternal life.
Thank you for being my substitute. Help me to love others like you do, even when it’s hard.
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