Abraham Sacrifices Isaac (A Father’s Day Sermon) June 17, 2007Posted by roberttalley in Abraham, Faith, Father's Day, Genesis, Isaac, Sermons, Will of God, Worship.
FATHER AND SON – WORSHIPING AND TESTED
Oftentimes when God evaluates a father, the evaluation shows great shortcomings in the father. I think of Eli, of whom God said in 1 Samuel 2:29, ‘‘Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’’ This is a sad commentary on a man who should have known better.
(For more on this story see The Father Who Would Not Say No)
How much better it is to be like Abraham. This is what God said of him in Genesis 18:19, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”
In Genesis 22, we see the ultimate example of a father, whose worship of God and testing by God, allowed his son Isaac to practice the righteousness and justice of God in his life.
God tested Abraham by commanding an act of seemingly foolish, submissive worship (Compare Genesis 22:2 with 21:12). Why then would God want to kill Isaac? God did not want Isaac killed but rather wanted to test Abraham.
TWO TYPES OF TESTING
There are at least two types of tests with which God tests believers. There is the test of authenticity. That is the type of test where it is proven that someone really is a believer. That is not the test here. This is a test of quality. God was not testing to see if Abraham’s faith was real or not. That had already been established. God was testing Abraham to show the quality of his faith in God. This is an extreme test. This is not a test where you determine whether you have fool’s gold or real gold, this is a test to determine the purity and the quality of gold that you already know is real. This is a more precise test. This is a more exacting test. This is a test, not whether you have real faith but rather what will your faith withstand.
Perhaps we should look at this test a little closer. This test seemed to be contradictory. God had promised in 21:12 that Isaac’s seed or descendant would be the promised one through which all nations of the world would be blessed. It is hard to see how that could happen if Abraham offered Isaac as a burnt offering.
Secondly, this test was extreme. Isaac was to be offered as a burnt offering. Abraham was to take his son to Mount Moriah, where he was to build an altar and lay wood for burning on the altar. Then he would tie his son up and lay him on the altar. Then he would take a knife and cut his son’s throat. After his son had died, then he was to set the wood on fire and burn up the body of his son.
“This is what God told Abraham to do. At that point the man of faith only has two options. Either you obey or you don’t. If you stop to argue, that in itself is a form of disobedience. If you try to talk God out of it, that too is disobedience. If you offer an alternate plan, that is also disobedience.” Ray Pritchard
ABRAHAM TALLIED UP GOD’S ACCOUNT BOOKS.
Abraham was willing to obey God because he had concluded that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead so that the promises of God might be kept (Hebrews 11:17-19). He believed God’s promise as well as God’s ability (inherent power) to keep that promise. When Abraham believed God, it was accounted to him for righteousness. In other words God tallied up the books and found Abraham righteous. In this situation we see Abraham tallying up God’s books and when he looked over God’s books He found that God had the ability on the books to raise Isaac from the dead. Remember, there had never been a resurrection of any kind before. Abraham had no biblical accounts of a resurrection but He did know a God of great ability and power who was more than capable of bringing Isaac back to life even after being offered as a burnt offering.
This willingness to obey had been shown repeatedly over the past thirty or so years. Abraham had seen God’s blessings in his life. He had seen God visually several times. God had enabled him to win battles. He had seen God’s power in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. God had opened up the womb of his ninety year old wife and given them a son. He had seen God protect them when they were in the foreign lands of Egypt and Gerar. In all of these things Abraham was willingly obedient to God.
ABRAHAM’S WILLINGNESS REVEALED HIS FAITH.
This willingness was revealed by Abraham’s statement in verse 5. They were going to worship God, i.e. bow down before Him in submission. Abraham was not just going to fulfill the letter of the law. He was going to bow down to the ground in worship before God during this great test. He was going with an attitude of submission to God’s will.
Verse 5 also tells us that Abraham said they both were going to return. God had not said that Isaac would return. We know what Abraham thought God might would do according to Hebrews 11 but God had not promised a resurrection. What God had promised, however, is that through this son there would be a great nation through whom the whole world would be blessed. He based his obedience during the test from God on the promise of God.
We know that Abraham trusted God because of what Abraham did when he was tested (James 2:21-24). By revealing his faith through his works in this test, his faith was made perfect or was completed. His faith was not maintained by works but was brought to its logical end by works.
Abraham began his journey of faith in Genesis 12. God repeatedly confirmed His promise to Abraham. God made an unconditional promise but faith in that promise still demanded works. That is what faith is. It is a belief that demands action. That is why the journey of faith was not completed when Isaac was born but rather when Isaac was rescued from death. Faith and works are inseparable. If you have faith and no works, your faith is dead. You never had true faith to begin with. If you have works and no faith, your works are dead. There is no salvation in works. There is, however, completion of faith in works.
God provided a ram as Isaac’s substitute and He reconfirmed His covenant with Abraham emphasizing the obedience of Abraham. (Genesis 22:7-14). The word “provided” is literally “sees.” When Abraham named the place of sacrifice, “Jehovah provides”, he was saying, God sees what is going on. He is actively involved in my test. He is actively involved in my obedience. There is no test that God is going to put me through in which he is not active in my response to that test.
WE NEED FATHERS LIKE FATHER ABRAHAM.
Fathers, those of you who are believers, what do you love? What is it or who is it that is so important to you that you would take off work to give time to that person or thing? What is it that receives the best of your spare time, spare money, and spare strength? If God was to take it from you, what promise would you fall back on?
Let’s slow down. Think about this question. What promise would you fall back on? What has God promised you that commands immediate, unquestioning obedience when the test comes? Do you have such promises?
If not, then you need to get alone with your Bible and with your God and establish some promises that will hold you up when the test comes. Your faith is only as good as the promises you depend on. You need some promises that will produce quality when you are tested. You need some promises that will produce works that will complete your faith.
If you have not put your faith in Christ, the quality of your faith cannot be tested. Whether you even have faith in Christ can be tested, however. What is the test? Are you trusting Christ alone for salvation? Are you trusting His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins? Or are you trusting something or someone in addition? Are you, sinner that you are, hoping that you will be good enough to please God? It will never happen. God cannot tolerate sin. If you have sinned once, someone must die. Jesus died for your sin, if you will trust Him and Him alone, but as long as you are trusting your good works, there is no hope for you. Will you trust Him today to save you?