Summary: This sermon explores the lessons we can learn from Abraham's faith and obedience as he proceeded with sacrificing Isaac as God commanded.
A. A college student had come to take his final exam in his ornithology class (the study of birds).
1. It had been a tough class with a tough professor.
2. The exam consisted of 25 pictures of birds’ feet and he had to identify which birds they were based solely on their feet.
3 The exasperated student said; “I’m not going to do this. Nobody could pass this test!”
4. The professor replied; “Then I will have to fail you.”
5. Defiantly, the student said. “So fail me!”
6. The angry professor replied, “Okay, what’s your name?”
7. The student took off his shoes and socks and said, “You tell me.”
B. None of us like hard tests, do we?
1. But as with walk with God through life, we will realize that faith is always tested and sometimes those tests are very hard!
2. God is, of course, omniscient, which means God knows everything, so God knows the future as well as He knows the past.
3. Therefore, God doesn’t put people to the test so He can see how well their faith responds under fire; He knows already knows; rather, He prepares tests of faith to show us where we are in our faith development.
4. Whether we pass or fail, we learn about ourselves.
5. Through the tests we face, we learn where we need to improve, or we discover how spiritually strong and mature we have become.
C. And so today, as we continue to examine Abraham’s story, we see that it was time for God to put Abraham through another test.
1. Since leaving the Ur of the Chaldeans, so many years earlier, Abraham had come a long way – not just in miles, but in faith development.
2. Abraham had endured many tests, some he had passed with flying colors and others that had gotten the best of him.
3. And now at around age 115, Abraham was about to face one of life’s hardest tests.
4. Having enjoyed a season of peace and quiet with Sarah and Isaac, for about 15 or 16 years, Abraham had his faith put to the test with an unusual and unexpected request from God.
5. Let’s see how Abraham responded to the test and learn how we can face life’s hardest tests.
I. The Story
A. The Bible says: Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (Gen. 22:1-2)
1. Abraham recognized God’s voice – they have talked many times over the years.
2. God’ request is actually quite a shocking one – here God asked for a human sacrifice.
3. There was nothing leading up to this account which would have prepared Abraham or us readers for such a request.
4. Child sacrifice was not an unusual thing in the period of the patriarchs and even all the way into the book of Kings, but God and His people were always against it.
5. So certainly, in general, Abraham should have been shocked by the request, but more specifically the request must have been so confusing after having waited so long for this son of promise to be born.
B. Notice the phrases God used in His instructions describing what Abraham was to do and to whom – “take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
1. God was making it very clear who he was talking about and He was putting His finger on the fact that Isaac was everything to Abraham.
2. And perhaps that was part of the problem, because God alone should be everything to him.
3. Perhaps God was saying, “We’ve walked together for many years and now you have the son you’ve longed for. Tell me, Abraham; is this son more important to you than your relationship with me?”
C. Every detail of the story is significant, beginning with the location.
1. Mount Moriah is to be a special place in God’s relationship with His people beginning here with Abraham.
2. Later, King David would purchase Mount Moriah as a site for the temple his son, Solomon, would later build for the Lord (1 Chron. 21, 2 Chron. 3).
3. That temple would be destroyed by the Babylonians, but would then will be rebuilt and be in place when Jesus came to become the final and ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world.
D. The three simple words – take, go, sacrifice – must have taken Abraham’s breath away.