Not A Second Too Late
Helen Dowd

Have you ever been just minutes too late for something? You are running for the bus stop, only to see it pulling out seconds before you get there. Now you have to wait a half hour for the next one, which will make you late for your appointment, or for work, or for school. You go to a store to buy something that was advertised as on sale. You get to the shelf and it is all gone. You ask a clerk and she says, “Oh, I am sorry. You are too late. The last one was just sold minutes ago.” You go to apply for a much-needed job, but you are told the position was just filled by the last applicant.

Being too late for something can bring on feelings of desperation and frustration. But just supposing God had been too late in the following situation? Of course, we know God is never too late. He always comes through with His promises just on time.

Hebrews 11:17 & 19–
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotton son. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.”

Genesis 22:1-14
“I delight to do thy will, O my God:” I am sure that is what Abraham said that morning when he got up. The day was bright and beautiful, but Abraham was quiet. He knew what he had to do, and although he trusted God completely, he dreaded the task ahead. He would have done almost anything to get out of it, but he knew he must go through with it. He went out to the barn, saddled up his donkey, and called two of his young men servants to help him gather together the wood for the sacrifice. This was nothing unusual for Abraham. He took these trips all the time. But this time it was different. He was taking his son, Isaac, with him.

The Bible doesn’t give us Isaac’s age, but it is hinted that he was no longer a child, but not yet a man. I imagine that he was likely somewhere in his late teen years. Regardless of his age, Isaac went willingly with his father. In fact, I would guess he was excited, even though Abraham had not told him where they were going, to make their sacrifice. It was a three-day trip. When they were within sight of the place God had instructed Abraham to go, he told the young men to stay behind to watch the donkeys and all the provisions they would have taken with them. “My son and I are going on further to worship.” He took the wood for the sacrifice, and laid it on Isaac. Then he picked up the torch for the fire, and the knife, and they continued their journey to the top of Mount Moriah.

During the last little stretch of the climb up the mountain, Isaac puzzlement grew: “Hasn’t Dad forgotten something?” Finally he asked, “My father, you have the fire and I have the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham, still unable to tell Isaac what God had asked him to do, put him off by saying, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” His heart must have been wrenching at this point, knowing that it was his only begotten son, the son God had promised, and given him, that was to be the sacrifice. And how would Isaac take the news when he found out?

At last they were at the place of sacrifice. Abraham built the altar. I am sure Isaac must have helped him pile up the rocks, still wondering when the Lord would send along the lamb. I doubt Isaac, at this point, had any clue as to what was happening. But then the time came. The altar was finished, and Abraham could put off the inevitable no longer. The Bible doesn’t mention any more conversation between father and son. It just states that Abraham bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar. The silence speaks volumes to me. It shows Isaac’s willingness to trust his father, and his God enough to remain docile during the procedure. He would certainly have been strong enough to fight off the ropes and to rebel against getting on that altar, but he didn’t. He willingly allowed himself to become a sacrifice.

Now it was time for the ultimate test. The altar prepared, the sacrifice bound and ready, it was time for the kill. Abraham, still trusting God, raised the knife for the strike. Isaac could have jumped down from the altar when he saw what it was his father was determined to do, but he didn’t. He stayed there, knowing that he was about to die. No mention is made about any protestation on his part. He just lay there quietly.

(What a good example is given here of God and His sacrifice of His only Son, and of the Son’s willingness to be that sacrifice. But that is another lesson, another story.)

And then it happened! Just as Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his beloved son, an angel spoke to him. “Don’t do it. Don’t harm your son. Now I know that you are willing to do what I ask of you. You have passed the ultimate test. Look behind you.” Abraham took his eyes off his son and looked into the bush. There was a ram caught in the bushes. Abraham ran towards the bush, and I can imagine Isaac jumping off the altar, scrambling out of his ropes, and hurrying towards his father to help. What a joyous sacrifice that was that day, for both Abraham and for Isaac.

And God was not a minute–not even a second–too late. What a lesson for us!

God is never too late in answering prayer.
He knows what we need, and He cares.
But He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to ask.
He is waiting. The answer is there.

Next time we doubt the reason God is asking us to do something, thinking that the sacrifice is too great, let us think about this story of Abraham. Be assured, what ever it is God wants us to do; He will be there for us. And He is never a second too late.

© Helen Dowd


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