Preached at a Sunday Morning service
We read here about a test that God has for Abraham. He wants to teach Abraham what he has learned about his faith. It involves something that is impossible; that if Isaac is sacrificed, there won't be any more people of the covenant promise, given the advanced age of Abraham and Sarah. But God is not erratic, and he does the impossible, including providing salvation for lost sinners whose wages is death. We must ask ourselves, do we love God for who He is, or only for the blessings of salvation He promises? Isaac is a gift of God's grace. We must let go of the gifts we hold in our hands in order to grasp God's hand. We need Him, not what we think we need. We need to live by faith, as Abraham did. We need to trust God, as Abraham did. He trusted enough to prepare for and undertake a 3-day journey to Mt. Moriah. He believed in God's provision, telling his servants that both he and Isaac would return from the mount of sacrifice. Isaac also trusted that God would provide the sacrifice; he could have easily overcome the 120-year-old Abraham if he chose. There is not a direct parallel between Isaac and Jesus. There is a more direct parallel between ourselves and Isaac. We are the ones for whom the sacrifice is made. God offers His own Son to die in our place for our sin. Mount Moriah is the place where David later would purchase the threshing floor where the temple would be built, where sacrifices would be made. It is near the place where the Atonement would take place, Mt. Calvary. Here in our passage, God receives another name, Yahweh Jirah, or the God who provides. Only God could provide the substitute for Isaac, the ram; and also for us, Jesus. The ram was probably there the whole time; likewise, God planned His Son as our substitute from eternity past. There are four things our faith needs: (1) an appreciation of the impossible that God does in salvation, (2) the intensity of the love that He has for us, (3) the amazing truth of the substitutionary atonement, and (4) the great cost of Jesus' sacrifice. We have peace with God only through Christ. In Him, we willingly give up our cherished sinfulness.
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Genesis 22:1–19 (Listen)
22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 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. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 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.” 13 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. 14 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.”
15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 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, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
Hebrews 11:8–10 (Listen)
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:17–19 (Listen)
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.