Summary: God appears to Abraham & says, "I want you to take your son & offer him as a sacrifice on the mountain that I will show you." I can’t begin to imagine how Abraham felt inside when God asked him to do that.
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. In Genesis 22 is a story that we need to consider this morning. It starts in vs. 1 & you can follow along in your Bibles if you wish. Here is how it begins:
“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, & go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about’” [Genesis 22:1-2].
Now let’s stop for a moment. I presume you remember the story of Abraham & Sara & the birth of their son, Isaac. God had promised that despite their old age Sara would conceive & bear a son. So when Abraham was 100 & Sara was 90, their son was born. It was a miraculous birth, & they named him Isaac, which means “laughter.”
They named him “laughter” for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was laughable to think that Sara could have a child at this stage in her life. Secondly, they named him “laughter” because of the joy he brought into their lives. They had been childless for so long, but now God had blessed them with a son. So they called him Isaac.
It isn’t hard to love your children. There is something instinctive about it, & as you bond with them, you just automatically come to love your children. And it’s obvious that Abraham & Isaac loved each other very much.
B. Now at the time of this event, Isaac was probably about 12 years old. God appears to Abraham & says, “I want you to take your son & offer him as a sacrifice on the mountain that I will show you.” I can’t begin to imagine how Abraham felt inside when God asked him to do that.
Vs’s 3-5 tell us, “Early the next morning Abraham got up & saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants & his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up & saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I & the boy go over there. We will worship & then we will come back to you.”
And the story continues on in vs. 6, “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering & placed in on his son Isaac, & he himself carried the fire & the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up & said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire & the wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’” [Genesis 22:6-7]
That must have been one of the most difficult moments in Abraham’s life – to see his son carrying the wood that was going to be used to consume his son’s body, & to hear him ask, “We have the wood, we have the fire, but where is the sacrifice?”
Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together” [Genesis 22:8].
PROP. Now I want you to see in this story, first of all the principle, then an application of the principle, & finally, the promise that God gives.
I. THE PRINCIPLE
A. Now we need to remember that vs. 1 says, “God tested Abraham.” No, it wasn’t a test so that God could find out the extent of Abraham’s faith & devotion. God already knew. But Abraham didn’t.
You see, we never really know for sure what we’re capable of, how we’ll react, how tall we’ll stand, how faithful & true we will be until a moment of crisis arrives. Some of us may be able to talk a good talk, & put on a good front. But it is not until the moment of crisis & decision that our true self is evident.
God has given this command so that Abraham will have to examine his heart & decide what his priorities really are.
APPL. By the way, I wonder how well we would do if we were put to some kind of test today. As you well know, some Christian teenagers in Littleton, CO faced the ultimate test a few weeks ago & passed with flying colors.
B. Now back to Abraham & his test. You see, God did not desire the sacrifice of Isaac’s life. He desired Abraham’s heart, & Abraham was being asked, “Do you love Isaac more than you love me?” It is important for us to realize that God never asks us to love our children less. He always expects us to love God more.