Summary: Discover what was inside Abraham that helped him obey God’s radical test.
This morning we will have our last message in our mini-series on Abraham. Someday I’ll turn all my messages into books and sell millions of copies. I won’t have to worry about my retirement. I won’t have to rely on the social security system or my dwindling 403b.
The truth is peace does not come from financial security in retirement. Financial security helps give us a sense of peace, but it may also hide the lack of true peace inside a person. The only way to know what is really inside of us, whether peace or anxiety, is to squeeze us until the stuff inside comes out.
Situations and pressures in life do not create the person we are; they reveal who we are. When I am impatient with Esther, Esther does not make me impatient. She simply reveals that I am an impatient person. You are angry when you don’t get your way. Others do not make you angry. They simply reveal that you have the need to control outcomes.
When squeezed, what’s inside comes out. No one can avoid being squeezed in life. Demanding supervisors, rude drivers, financial reverses, mechanical failures and the temptation to do wrong squeeze us each day. There are coping strategies we all can learn to respond in healthier ways. But even better than coping strategies is a life that trusts God.
But how do we develop a life that trusts God? Are some people born with trust and others without? Can we learn to trust God? If yes, how? This morning, we have the privilege of hearing from Abraham, one who has learned to trust God. Let me read from Genesis 22:1-19. (READ)
What an incredible test God gave to Abraham. If Abraham could be here this morning, this is what he would say to us.
(Pause; pray; begin to play the role of Abraham.)
Most of you are probably quite amazed at my response to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. My trust in God is to God’s credit, not to mine. God has always kept His promises, even when I did not keep my promise to others or to God. God can be trusted.
Now, I didn’t always believe that God could be trusted. You’ll remember that when I went down to Egypt to take refuge during the famine near the Negev, I didn’t trust God to protect me from Pharaoh. So I lied about Sarah being my sister, in case Pharaoh wanted to kill me in order to take Sarah to be his wife.
God intervened so that Pharaoh gave Sarah back to me, and along with Sarah, Pharaoh gave me livestock and servants. You would think that I would trust God from then on, or at least under the same circumstances.
But a little over ten years later, I lied again about Sarah being my sister. Again, I didn’t trust God to protect me, this time, from Abimelech. But God again intervened so that Abimelech returned Sarah to me.
Some of you are thinking, “Abraham, how could you repeat the same shameful lie twice? You’ve seen God’s faithfulness the first time, didn’t you?”
To you I would reply, “Yes, I saw God intervene the first time. I don’t know why I lied the second time.” Sometimes the fear of man seems more real than the fear of God. I am thankful to learn that God did not give up on me. Some of you commit the same sins over and over. Know that God does not give up on you.
God is faithful even when we fail. Maybe that’s one way I learned to trust God, by seeing God’s faithfulness even when I wasn’t faithful. Focusing on God’s faithfulness has helped me trust God.
So when God told me to take Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering, I did just that. That’s not to say that I didn’t have doubts and fears. I still can remember my heart drop to my stomach. I was confused and anxious. But I faced my fears honestly.
You’ve been there. You’ve wondered why God would give you the desire of your heart, only to take it away. I wondered how God could ask me to kill my own son. This was Isaac, my only son, whom God promised would become the father of many nations. It was a long night of asking, “Why, God?”
By 3 AM that morning, some thoughts came to my mind: “I may not know why God is asking me do this, but I do know that God is good and that He can be trusted. Maybe God is just testing me. Maybe God, the Creator of life, will raise Isaac back from the dead? Maybe what looks like a dead end is really a turn in the road?