I don’t know if it is just me but it seems like in the past few years, Hollywood has really struggled with creating new movies. We have either seen spinoffs or most often remakes of some of the greatest movies like Cinderella, Annie, Batman, The Karate Kid, The Mummy, Spiderman and much more. Don’t get me wrong, some of these spinoffs and remakes are great but I would say that only 10-15% are actually better than the originals. It seems to me that the original is typically the best and one of the greatest examples of this is the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I know Johnny Depp is a great actor but there is just something about the original movie with Gene Wilder and the music that makes this movie that much sweeter (no pun intended). I really love this movie because it’s a classic and was so magical for me as a child. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is a whimsical film about a young boy named Charlie Bucket who wins a golden ticket to tour the mysterious and magical chocolate factory of the eccentric Willy Wonka (and possibly win a lifetime supply of chocolate). Alongside other ticket winners, Charlie experiences Wonka's fantastical world filled with quirky characters, incredible inventions, and tempting treats. The journey becomes a test of character, revealing the values of kindness, humility, and the importance of family amid the wonders of Wonka's chocolate empire. Before Charlie enters the factory in the movie, he runs into a competitor of Wonka’s named Slugworth, who promises him $10,000 for a new candy from Wonka called an Everlasting Gobstopper. This bribe would certainly help Charlie’s family get out of poverty, but towards the end of the film, Charlie is left with two choices: Do the right thing by giving Wonka back the candy he had given him to put away any thought of temptation or take the money to help his family. Just like Charlie, Abraham had an important decision to make in Genesis chapter 22 that would affect his family’s future.
Thus far in the story of Abraham, we have seen that God has made a covenant with him that he would have a son, and his family would one day be a great nation through which the whole world would be blessed. He now has a son named Isaac, who will be his heir and lead to the promises of God being fulfilled. It seems after chapter 21 it would be a happily ever after but God has a test for Abraham that would really challenge his faith. This story in Chapter 22 is one that we can easily overlook because it has been told over and over since our youth but if we slow down and read scripture, we’ll see some amazing details that let us see this story in a new light. In verse 2 we see that God tells Abraham to take his son to the land of Moriah and on the mountain there to make Isaac a burnt offering to the Lord. I cannot imagine the sorrow in Abraham’s heart and his thoughts that are racing through his head. It says that he woke up early the next morning and prepared his son, the wood, and servants to go to the place God had told him to go. This meant that he had to spend a whole night with a decision to be obedient to God or to let his son live but as we know from verse 3, he had already made up his mind to be obedient to the word of God. I feel another detail we miss is verse 4 it took 2 days on foot (or 45 Miles) to travel from Beersheba to the mountain where God told him. That is a long time to dwell on the thought of having to give up his only son. I’m sure thoughts about turning back crept into Abraham’s mind and like Charlie Bucket at the end of the movie they both have a dilemma of helping their family or doing the right thing. Charlie was waiting to receive his lifetime supply of chocolate because he was the last of the children but Wonka tells him that he knew about his falling into temptation when he drank the Fizzy-lifting drinks and bumped into the celling. Wonka broke his heart but Charlie understood and when tempted to sell the Gobstopper, he made up his mind to give the Gobstopper back to Wonka. I would wager that Abraham had thought about the time when he and Sarah lost faith in God’s promise by having Ishmael through Sarah’s servant Hagar and that maybe this was punishment. Still, he understood what was right and continued on without his servants saying in verse 5 “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” Here Abraham believed that everything would turn out for good without even knowing what the future held and that he would have his son. As they are walking up the mountain Isaac noticed that they had everything except the lamb for the sacrifice but I love the words of Abraham in verse 8 when he said “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” which we will come back to later. Once they arrived at the location God had told them, Abraham built the altar and placed Isaac on top of the wood. As he was about to take the knife and sacrifice his son, an angel came to stop him. In verse 12 the angel tells Abraham “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and noticed a ram caught in a thicket for the sacrifice and afterward Abraham called that place “Yahweh-Yireh” or the Lord will provide. I want to take a second to pause to see parallels in scripture because it really shows how the Bible is made up of many books written over a 1500 year span, but they are told by our great Author who delights in the details. This mountain in Moriah is believed by most historians as the place where Jerusalem will be built and even more important the location of where Solomon would build the temple where the descendants of Abraham would offer sacrifices to atone for their sins. In the next few verses of 15-18 we see even more details that would be prophetic for not only the Old Testament but the New. The angel of the Lord comes back to Abraham and tells him “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” In these verses we see that because of Abraham’s obedience the covenant will be fulfilled and when it mentions his offspring, we see a glimpse into the savior who will crush the enemy and save the world through him being the sacrificial lamb who like the ram has taken our place in death.
So, in the end Abraham could return home with his son because he not only showed his faith but also through his obedient works that James 2 calls for us to do. Abraham, like Charlie Bucket passed the test, both chose to do the right thing and the reward was more for both than they could have ever imagined or more than they could have ever been tempted with. Charlie received the lifetime supply of chocolate but also became the next to run the chocolate factory. Abraham became the father of a great nation from which the whole world would be blessed and passes the torch in verse 23 where we meet the future wife of Issac but that is a story for another time. Church as we go about our day let us remember to obedient to God’s word even when it seems tough because he his Yahweh-Yireh our provider. This world can promise us much but it is fleeting; It is the gifts and blessings of God that are truly sweeter than candy.