Summary: Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac. God did not ask Abraham to do something God was not willing to do Himself. This sermon parallels these truths.
Abraham is the Father of our Faith. In Genesis 12 God called him to be the leader of a great nation. In our story today God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son. Let’s study this story for truths we can apply to our lives.
I. The request from God 22:1, 2 READ
Notice in verse 2 God understood the scope of what He was asking Abraham to do. Our key words are:
• “take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love” --- for emphasis the verse is worded three ways to acknowledge God understands what He is asking Abraham to do. (1.) “only son” (2.) identified him by name, Isaac. (3) who you love
• it should not surprise us that Abraham would be tested like this concerning his son. Tests often involve the things we love the most. It is no test if no sacrifice is involved. It is likely that Abraham loved his son more than he loved the Lord God. Is there anything you love more than you do Jesus?
• What was Abraham asked to do with Isaac? Offer him as a “burnt offering”. For those unfamiliar with the practice of “burnt offering”, typically an animal was sacrificed on an altar of wood and the worshiper would completely burn to ashes the offering. As strange as this activity sounds to us, it was an act of worship in the Jewish faith. The purpose of it is to teach “complete and total commitment”. By nature we humans don’t like to make commitments. We like to cut corners and take short cuts and we do it in our worship like we do in other things. Are you willing to give God your total devotion?
• One time I was at youth event where the leader asked the students and leaders present to prepare a list of the people and things that were the most important to them in order. After everyone had prepared their list, the leader then turned to the large campfire and asked the students if they were willing to choose their relationship with God as more important than any of those on the sheets of paper. If so come and place the paper into the fire. Some of the students took the activity seriously and you could see and hear cries and sobs as some students began walking forward saying “I choose Jesus over my friends”. Another said I just threw my parents into the fire for Jesus! Another said he was going to go home and get rid of his music cd’s that didn’t honor God. If you had been at that campfire, what or who would you need to put on the altar because you choose Christ as first?
Philosophically some people have trouble with God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. Later on God led Moses to include in the Levitical Law that it was wrong (20:1-5). I can come to peace with this request simply because I understand it to be a “test” of Abraham’s character and commitment. Look at verse 1 and you will see the word “tested”.
In school and at work people are “tested” concerning their knowledge and understanding of the context being studied. God is more concerned about our character and commitment than He is our knowledge. You can feel assured that if God will test Abraham, He is going to test you and me too. That test will vary based on what character trait God is trying to develop in you.
In verse 16 we find further evidence it was a “test”. With the “testing of God” there are also blessings.
II. Abraham’s faith Genesis 22:3-8
Abraham didn’t delay in his obedience to follow the request of God. Verse 3 tells us “early in the morning” he began preparing to do what God asked him to do.
Historians tell us that the journey from Beersheba to Mount Moriah is 50 or 60 miles. Verse 4 tell us Abraham did this in three days. That is 17 to 20 miles walking per day.
Isaac was an observant young man. He began to wonder where the animal was that would be the sacrifice on the altar. Don’t you love Abraham’s answer? His answer shows to me his faith in God. READ verse 8 again.
Exactly what Abraham meant we are not sure, but we do know Abraham expected God to act. Whether it was to literally provide an animal at the last second, or whether God would miraculously resurrect Isaac after the sacrifice we don’t know for sure.
Along side of this story with Abraham being called on to sacrifice his son, I want to bring in another way of looking at this story. What God was asking Abraham to do is no different than what God did Himself in offering Jesus on the cross of Calvary.