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The Miracle No One Thinks About

Some miracles are in the background.

Genesis 22:9-14 (ESV)

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 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.”

Now the story climaxes and, amazingly, Isaac doesn’t say a word. How is that possible? He’s inquisitive enough to have wondered about the lamb. Surely, he wouldn’t have let Abraham tie him up without comment. When Abraham laid him on the altar, Isaac must have said something. Could the Bible have just left this out?

No. Such a great omission is impossible in inspired scripture. Isaac was silent. How can that be?

One clue is that there is no mention, anywhere in the Bible, of Isaac remembering this incident. It’s as if he was drugged or something, though the text doesn’t say what. Thus, this looks like a miracle

If so, it’s just one of many. There’s really no need to expect things to be normal here. Abraham’s test is already extreme beyond anyone’s imagination. God supernaturally limits the test to what Abraham can handle; Isaac is somehow incapacitated. Wrestling with Isaac would be pointless anyway.

God wants to test Abraham, not give him a heart attack.

Abraham passes the test and God bails him out in the nick of time. At last Abraham gets it. Implementing his new understanding, he names the place, “The LORD will provide.”

This is a precious gift. When God came through at the last second, Abraham’s faith was cemented. The sudden release of tension, combined with the clear display of God’s goodness, seared the moment into his memory. It’ll be a “doubt eraser” for the rest of his life.

Or, at least it should be. Somehow, memories always fade – no matter how spectacular and important they may be. We all do it. We climb down off the mountains God has lifted us up to and forget the lessons learned there. We let great gifts rust.

What can we do to keep these lessons from fading? Abraham named the location. Building an altar is another classic Old Testament method.

Note that these monuments aren’t idols. When you create something to memorialize God’s provision, it isn’t meant to be an object of worship. Otherwise, holidays would be prohibited.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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