“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.” –Genesis 22:13
The Lord appeared to Abraham and told him that he was to take his only son Isaac, whom he loved, and offer him up as a sacrifice to God. Abraham set out on his trip, a three-day trip, to the land of Moriah. On the third day, “Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place” where he was to offer up his only son to God (Gen 22:4).
No doubt when Abraham saw that place, he was filled with grief and heartache, but he did not despair. He could have been completely overwhelmed with sadness and heartache when he lifted up his eyes and saw the place where he was to sacrifice his only son, whom he loved. But He did not allow his pain or grief to keep him from obeying the Lord. In fact, the author of Hebrews tells us that Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise [Isaac] from the dead” (Heb 11:19). Abraham trusted God and God’s purposes, so he obeyed the Lord and was prepared to sacrifice his only son, whom he loved, to the Lord. The next time in the narrative that Abraham “lifted up his eyes” (Gen 22:13) he saw the ram in the thicket. The Lord mercifully and graciously provided a substitute for Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son. His heartache was not in vain. His sufferings and difficulties were not in vain. His obedience to the Lord stemmed from his faith in God, and the Lord rewarded him for his faith.
This story clearly foreshadows Jesus’ sacrifice. Technically speaking, we all should be on the altar, but God, in His mercy and grace, provided a substitute for us. He sent His one and only Son, whom He loved, to die in the place of His people. God says, “Look to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22). Jesus, our great High Priest, lived and was tempted in every way that we are, so He is able to relate to us in our temptations and our sufferings (Heb 4:15–16). He is our “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Today, don’t let the difficulties of your circumstances, the allure of temptations, or the pain of sufferings and hardships keep you from trusting the Lord or keep you from obedience. God makes a way when there is no way. God rescues when it seems all hope is lost. God delivers when it seems there is no way of escape. God saves when it seems there is no means of salvation.
Don’t despair because of the difficulties in your life: lift up your eyes to Jesus! Don’t give up hope because of the struggles and uncertainties: lift up your eyes to Jesus! Don’t dwell on your sufferings and heartaches: lift up your eyes to Jesus! Don’t rely on your own strength or your own wisdom: lift up your eyes to Jesus! Lift up your eyes and see the Substitute. Look to Jesus who has gone before us and intercedes for us. Look to Him, and you will be able to say, “I lift my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1–2).