Summary: The need for sacrifice
Intro: Can you remember back to high school or college, at some of your teachers and their test-taking opportunities? I can think of two different extremes in teachers I had. The first was Mr. Harris. He was my history teacher in college. He always gave the opportunity to pick the test you wanted, either an essay test or an objective test: multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc. Now, I just hated essays, because I hated to write so long. I loved objective tests. The only problem with Mr. Harris’ tests was that he asked things that weren’t in the book and had never been studied in class. His thought was that if you wanted an “A” you would have studied outside of class materials and would know the answers. Almost everyone, myself included, always took the essay test.
The other extreme was Mr. Foose. Mr. Foose also was a history teacher, and he loved history. Yet, he loved his students and loved to see them achieve and do well. I can remember many tests where a student would be perplexed and not have a clue. Mr. Foose would come over their shoulder, whisper, “Oh, come on, you know that one. Don’t you remember when Washington was crossing that big river--what was it’s name. Oh, come on, it’s one of the states, the first to join the Union. If Della Reese was there, what would she wear. Come on, what would Della wear?
Mr. Foose loved to see us succeed.
Sometimes we look at the tests God gives us in life like Mr. Harris’ objective tests. We think that God is out to get us, he’s trying to make us fail, he wants us to sin. This morning, I would say that that is far from the truth. This morning, let’s look at God like Mr. Foose: he gives us tests to show us that we can do it; when we need help, he’s right there to come along side us and to prompt us a little. Sometimes he even gives us the answers we need when we don’t know what to do.
God brings testing into our lives, but he does it to have us pass the test with flying colors. James 1 tells us that we should count it joy when we face trials. If we need wisdom to face our trials, we can ask of God, and he will give it to us. God never tries to get us to sin; he never tempts us with evil. Rather he allows tests to come to show us approved. We want to look at one of these tests that came into the life of Abraham. In Genesis 22, we see one of these tests. We’ve already read the story, but let’s talk about the test Abraham faced in giving his son Isaac.
I. Tests are often difficult, but always passable.
Remember what we have already said, that God’s desire is that we pass the test, that we grow and learn, but not to have us fail. If we never were faced with difficulties, there would be no struggle and no growth. Let’s look at the struggle of this test.
*22:2 - sacrifice -This was a test that was going to cost Abraham something. It was a sacrifice
of possession -“his only son - Abraham was not sharing something he had plenty of, but giving up totally the only son he had from his body
of emotions - “whom you love - Abraham was called to give up that which was very precious to him, his emotions were focused in his son. God often calls us to give up that which means the most to us. Many times we think we have complete control over all we have, but God calls us to give up all for him. He wants everything we have.
of hope - “burnt offering” - this was total abandonment. In a burnt offering there is no way the animal (or person in this case) would be walking back from the altar.
Yet, while this test seems unbelievable, yet is was a test that was passable. Abraham had already committed to following the ways of God. Look back in 21:4 - Abraham starts out Isaac’s life by obeying God’s commands in circumcising Isaac. Abraham sets a good example for Isaac, worshiping and calling on God’s name at Beersheba, in 21:33.
Hebrews 11:17-19 it tells us “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.