What things? See verse 33 in preceding chapter. After Abraham had given himself to prayer. It often happens that grace is given for grace. God prepares his own for trial and suffering by revealing Himself.
"GOD DID TEMPT." -- Like a workman who is conscious the work is well done, fears not the scrutiny which waits his labour. When the smith has put good work into the iron cable, he does not then fear the strain of the test put upon it, and God knew what He had done to Abraham in the grove at Beersheba. If we have a Beersheba, we need not fear Moriah.
2. -- "Isaac, whom thou lovest."
God has a right to the best. He does not ask us to do what He has not done Himself. "He gave his only begotten Son."
3. "Rose up early."
Abraham was prompt. Where there is a task to be performed, lose no time. Work does not grow easier by delay. Do not fritter away strength in trifles; begin at once upon the duties which call for instant obedience. We do not read that Abraham asked Sarah's advice, the command was plain. She might not have been willing. Never ask advice from those whom God does not trust.
"CLEAVE THE WOOD." -- He did not act as some do, take no pains in preparation. The Holy Ghost is not to act as brains in an empty skull. Get ready, then go. Some would have climbed the hill, and then, because there was no one near from whom they could borrow an axe to cut the wood, would have come back with an excuse, and in so doing picture not a few who fail, because they are not able to sing --
"READY for all Thy perfect will,
5. -- Abide ye here with the Ass."
The young men would have hindered Abraham from binding his son on the altar. Whatever would interfere with prayer, when we retire for that purpose, or with sacrifice, when we make the effort, should be left behind. Leave hinderers with the ass, they will be in congenial society!
6, 7, 8, 9. -- "The Knife," "The Fire," "The Wood."
Where is the lamb? Isaac's words would pierce his father's heart. How came it the young man yielded? Was there a struggle? Did Abraham bind him by force? There is no indication in the story of any resistance. Do the words of Jesus cast any light, "Abraham saw My day, and was glad?" Received him in a figure" (Heb. xi.19.) Did father and son see what was to occur in the distance?
10. -- "Took the knife to slay his son."
God tries us to the full. His tests are no shams. Before the Hall-mark is put on the metal, the acid proves it genuine.
11 and 12. -- "Lay not thine hand on the lad."
No one spoke to God when it pleased Him to bruise His Well-beloved.
13. -- "A ram caught in a thicket."
God cleaves His wood, He is ready, always prepared.
14. -- "Call the name of that place,
THE LORD WILL PROVIDE."
What would he have called it before his deliverance? Let us not be too quick to name events. It may be we shall want to alter if we do.
15-18. -- "OBEYED."
Obedience is the joyful mother of children, -- children that are born to bless. He who can always obey will find every step leads to a throne. -- Rev. iii.21.
These are a few lessons which I shall not do more than name:
I. -- GOD'S FRIENDSHIP DOES NOT EXCLUDE TRIAL.
The man who is called the friend of God was told to slay his son.
II. -- GREAT JOYS CONTAIN GREAT SORROWS.
The name of this son was Laughter. The more we enjoy a Gift of God, the more we shall feel it when we are called to part. Hold joys with a slack hand.
III. -- IN GREAT EXTREMITIES LOOK FOR GREAT DELIVERANCES.
The ram is in the thicket all the time.
IV. -- GREAT TRIALS WILL YIELD SWEET MEMORIES.
None of Abraham's journeys cost him so many tears as this, and none were so pleasant to recall.
PERHAPS CALVARY IS THE SWEETEST SPOT ON EARTH TO GOD.