At 3:00 a.m. one cold morning a missionary candidate walked into an office for a scheduled interview with the examiner of a mission board. He waited until 8 a.m. when the examiner arrived. The examiner said, “Let us begin. First, please spell baker.” “B-a-k-e-r,” the young man spelled. “Very good. Now, let’s see what you know about figures. How much is twice two?” “Four,” replied the applicant. “Very good,” the examiner said. “I’ll recommend to the board tomorrow that you be appointed. You have passed the test.”
At the board meeting the examiner spoke highly of the applicant and said. “He has all the qualifications of a missionary. Let me explain. First, I tested him on self-denial. I told him to be at my house at three in the morning. He left a warm bed and came out in the cold without a word of complaint. Second, I tried him out on punctuality. He appeared on time. Third, I examined him on patience. I made him wait five hours to see me, after telling him to come at three. Fourth, I tested him on temper. He failed to show any sign of it; he didn’t even question my delay. Fifth, I tried his humility. I asked him questions that a small child could answer and he showed no offense. He meets the requirements and will make the missionary we need.” (7,700 Illustrations # 3461)
2. In our Quest for God:
a. We are tested – To help us improve
b. To check our progress
3. Abraham was called by God (Quest for Man) and Responded (Quest for God)
I. God’s Persistent Attention to Abraham
A. God Called – Abram Responded – A Little
1. Mesopotamia and Haran – Acts 7.2; Genesis 11.31-12.1
2. God did not give up on his imperfect man
a. A work in progress
b. Lying about Sarah
c. Laughing about Isaac (17.17; S in 18.12)
Years ago, when John D. Rockefeller was running a gigantic empire known as the “Standard Oil Company,” one of the employees made a disastrous decision that cost the company more than $2 million. Fear swept through the company as everyone expected Rockefeller not only to fire the man responsible - but take out his wrath on them as well.
Edward T. Bedford, a partner in the company, was scheduled to see Rockefeller that day and as he entered he saw the this powerful man bent over his desk/ busily writing (with a pencil) on a pad of paper. Bedford stood silently, not wishing to interrupt. After a few minutes, Rockefeller looked up.
"Oh, it’s you, Bedford," he said calmly. "I suppose you’ve heard about our loss?"
Bedford said that he had.
"I’ve been thinking it over," Rockefeller said, "and before I ask the man in to discuss the matter, I’ve been making some notes."
Bedford later told the story this way:
"Across the top of the page was written, ’Point in favor of Mr. ______.’ And there, underneath that title, was a long list of the man’s virtues, including a brief description of how he had helped the company make the right decision on 3 separate occasions. Decisions that had earned the company many times the cost of his recent error.
The man kept his job, and Bedford left the meeting forever changed in how he viewed other employees of the company.
Now, why did I tell you that story?
I told you that story so you’d understand how God viewed Abraham… and how He views us:
Yes, Abraham made mistakes
Yes, Abraham failed God on a number of occasions
Yes, Abraham had a past filled with miserable disappointments…
BUT God didn’t look at Abraham to see his past, God looked at Abraham, to see his potential. He looked him to see his possibilities.
B. His Perseverance Resulted in his title, “Friend of God” (James 2.23; 2 Chronicles 20.7; Isaiah 41.8)
2. NOT perfection
II. God’s Penetrating Assessment of Abraham (Genesis 22.1-19)
A. Clarification of His Progress
1. God saw Abraham’s progress
2. God Showed Abraham his progress
B. Consecration of His Possessions
1. God asked for his most valued possession – his one and only son (Genesis 22.2)
First use of “love”
Unique son – supernatural element
2. All Abraham’s possessions had come from God – including Isaac
3. How could Abraham withhold from God the only thing He was asking from him after God had protected him from Pharaoh (Genesis 12:17) to Abimelech (Genesis 20:3), from famine (Genesis 12:10) to warfare (Genesis 14:15), from Chaldee to Canaan?
4. What is your most valuable possession? Can you give it to God? If not, that is an idol in your life; RYR (Matthew 19.16-22)
C. Culmination of His Priorities
Wood ON Isaac – foreshadows the cross on Yeshua
Fire – foreshadows the torment of Yeshua
Knife – foreshadows the blood of the lamb
2. Location – Mt. Moriah (22.2) – temple
3. Replacement – God to provide the lamb (22.8)
a. Passover Lamb – Exodus; crucifixion
b. Ram’s Horn (22.13)
Shofar/Trumpet – call to worship/war
Crown of thorns
4. Reward for Abraham
a. Life of Isaac (able to resurrect – Hebrews 11.19 – figuratively received him from dead – foreshadow of Yeshua)
b. Multiplication of descendants
c. Land of promise to descendants
d. Blessing for nations (in Yeshua)
e. BECAUSE he HEARD/OBEYED the voice of God
And in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice. (22.18)
In Our Quest for God we remember to put our faith into practice!
Don’t Hold Back
Bertoldo de Giovanni is a name even the most enthusiastic lover of art is unlikely to recognize. He was the pupil of Donatello, the greatest sculptor of his time, and he was the teacher of Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor of all time. Michelangelo was only 14 years old when he came to Bertoldo, but it was already obvious that he was enormously gifted. Bertoldo was wise enough to realize that gifted people are often tempted to coast rather than grow, and therefore he kept trying to pressure his young prodigy to work seriously at his art. One day he came into the studio to find Michelangelo toying with a piece of sculpture far beneath his abilities. Bertoldo grabbed a hammer, stomped across the room, and smashed the work into tiny pieces, shouting this unforgettable message, “Michelangelo, talent is cheap; dedication is costly!” (Gary Inrig, A Call to Excellence) Too often Christians are just like Michelangelo in that we simply coast through worship service by simply going through the motions. Going through the motions of singing songs and taking notes is cheap; dedication to true worship is costly.
Football players have a saying -- “leave it all on the field.” It means that during the game they don’t hold anything back.
Lesson for us as we walk with God – Don’t hold back!