Sermon #1949                                                                                 Miscellaneous Sermons

 

      Title:                     Abraham’s Great Trial

 

      Text:                      Genesis 22:1-19

      Subject:   Abraham and Isaac at Moriah

      Date:                    Sunday Morning — January 8, 2012

      Tape #     AA-48

      Reading: Genesis 22:1-19

 

 

Genesis 22

1 ¶ And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, [here] I [am].

2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

3 ¶ And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid [it] upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here [am] I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where [is] the lamb for a burnt offering?

8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 ¶ And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said [to] this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

15 ¶ And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son]:

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.”

Introduction

 

In Hebrews 5:8 we read that our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” And that which was true of our Redeemer, when he walked upon this earth as a man, is true of us. If we are the children of God, as long as we live in this body of flesh, we will be required to learn obedience. And we learn obedience by the things which we suffer by the hand of God’s wise and good providence.

 

The life of the believer is a series of trials, by which his faith is tested, proved, and strengthened. Christian character is developed by discipline. And God will develop the character of his saints. It appears that frequently there is one great trial of faith, for which all other trials seem to be preparatory. Certainly, that was the case with Abraham and the great trial of his faith revealed to us in Genesis 22.

 

I want you to turn that chapter and hold your Bibles open. The title of my message is Abraham’s Great Trial. This is one of the great chapters of the Bible. Here, for the first time, God shows us, in a vivid picture, the necessity of a human sacrifice for the ransom of our souls.

Š      Because it was a man who brought sin into the world, sin must be removed by a man.

Š      Because man had sinned, a man must suffer the wrath of God and die.

The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin. But the Man, Christ Jesus, “after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God...For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:4, 12, 14).

 

Genesis 22 records Abraham’s greatest trial and the greatest revelation of the gospel which God made to Abraham. I am sure our Lord was referring to this chapter when he said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). This chapter is full of Christ, full of redemption, and full of instruction for our souls. Someone suggested it could rightly be called “The Gospel of Moriah.” Many, with good reason, believe that Mt. Moriah and Mt. Calvary were the same places.

 

Proposition: This whole chapter is a picture of God’s great sacrifice of his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the place of sinners.

 

There are so many things portrayed in this chapter that I cannot possibly cover them all in one message. It is a picture of...

Š      Great faith!

Š      God’s great purpose of grace!

Š      Substitutionary redemption by Christ!

Š      And God’s great provision of grace for his people in Christ!

I will only touch the highlights in this message.

 

The Time

 

Notice first, the time when this trial was brought upon Abraham. — “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham”  v. 1).

 

After all the other trials, hardships, heartaches, and difficulties he had already endured, perhaps Abraham had begun to think, “At last, the storms are over.” This man, Abraham, was a remarkable man and a man of remarkable faith and faithfulness. He was the friend of God and the father of the faithful. Yet, his was a life marked by trials.

Š      This is the man who had been called to leave his home and family.

Š      This is the man who had buried his father, Terah, in Haran.

Š      This is the man who had to endure the family strife with Lot.

Š      This is the man who had to go to war with the heathen kings to save Lot.

Š      This is the man who had to wait 25 years for God to fulfil his promise — Isaac.

Š      This is the man who had seen his brother’s family swept away in God’s wrath.

Š      This is the man who had been required to cast his son Ishmael out of his house.

 

Abraham must have thought to himself, after all that he had been through, “Now the worst is over. Now I will live in peace. Ishmael is gone. Hagar is gone. Lot is gone. But I have Sarah and Isaac. All is well.” But it was not so. “It came to pass after these things that God did tempt,” test, try, and prove, “Abraham.” Abraham had been tested again and again. But now the Lord seems to say, “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26).

 

God Tempted Him

 

Second, the one who brought this trial upon Abraham was the Lord his God, the God of all grace whom he trusted, worshipped and served, God who promised always and in all things to bless him. — “God did tempt Abraham” (v.1).

 

The word tempt here means, “to try,” “to test,” or “to prove” (James 1:2, 3, 12). God brought this trial upon Abraham, not because he was angry with him, but because he loved him. The purpose of the trial was to prove to Abraham the reality of his faith and to reveal to Abraham the glory of his grace in Christ. When the trial was over, Abraham knew himself better than he did before. And he knew Christ better than he did before. No wonder James tells us what he does about our trials.

 

(James 1:2-3) “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

 

(James 1:12) “Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

 

All through his life God had been preparing Abraham for this event. And now, “it came to pass after these things.” Our great, sovereign God does all things “in due time” (Romans 5:6). And “in the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4).

 

After these things” — After the fall, the flood, the exodus, the tabernacle, the law, the prophets, the kings, and the priests had all run their course, it pleased God to fulfil every prophecy, pattern, and promise of Holy Scripture by the sacrifice of his only begotten Son. All that came before were preparatory events, picturing and pointing to the hour when Christ would die in our stead upon the cursed tree (Acts 10:43; Luke 24:27, 44-46).

 

(Acts 10:43) “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

 

(Luke 24:27) “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

 

(Luke 24:44-46) “And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.”

 

God’s providence is always on time. — “All things are of God” (2 Corinthians 5:18). And God does all things well. Learn these three things:

  1. Our trials always come from our heavenly Father.
  2. Our trials are brought upon us by God to prove and improve our faith.
  3. Our trials reveal Christ and make him more precious.

 

Very Great Trial

 

Third, read verse 2 and try to realize something of the magnitude of this great trial.

 

(Genesis 22:2) “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

 

The words of this verse, taken one by one, reveal the greatness of Abraham’s sacrifice, the love behind it, and the agony he endured through it. What a great, heavy trial this must have been! Can you imagine...

Š      Abraham’s grief when he received this command?

Š      The sorrow he suffered as he contemplated the death of his son by his own hand?

Š      The love he must have had for God, to willingly sacrifice his darling Isaac?

Š      The supreme sacrifice he made?

 

Every word in this verse must have been like a sword in his heart! Yet, there is a greater Sacrifice than that of Abraham. Here the Lord God himself is telling us what he has done for us.

Š      Take now thy son.” — The Lord Jesus Christ, whom God sacrificed for us, is himself the Son of God.

Š      Thine only son.” — Our Savior, whom God gave for the ransom of our souls, is God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16).

Š      Isaac” — Isaac means “laughter” or “delight.” And Christ is the one, the only one, in whom God is well pleased.

Š      Whom thou lovest.” — God said, “This is my beloved Son.” Yet, he sacrificed his darling Son for us, the very chief of sinners!

Š      And offer him for a burnt offering.” — Not just a sacrifice, “a burnt offering!” The Lord Jesus Christ is our burnt-offering, our sin-offering, sacrificed for us by the hand of God, according to the will of God (Isaiah 53:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Hebrews 10:9-10).

 

(Isaiah 53:10) “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

 

(Hebrews 10:9-10) “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].”

 

(2 Corinthians 5:18-21) “18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

 

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!” (1 Corinthians 9:15).

 

The Difficulties

 

Fourth, consider the difficulties Abraham had to overcome to obey God’s command. There were many things Abraham might have argued as reasons for disobedience. But he “consulted not with flesh and blood.” God called Abraham to sacrifice his son, but...

Š      The Lord gave him no reason for requiring such a sacrifice. — All Abraham had was God’s command.

Š      The commandment was contrary to nature, reason, and love. — But it was crystal clear.

Š      The commandment appeared to be contrary to the promise of God. — But it came from God who made the promise.

Š      If Abraham obeyed God, as he knew he must, he was sure to suffer much ridicule, persecution, and reproach for it. — What would he tell Sarah? — What would he say to the Egyptians? — How could he explain this to his servants?

 

O my God, give me grace to give you such implicit obedience. — Matthew Henry wrote, “God’s commands must not be disputed, but obeyed. We must not consult with flesh and blood about them (Galatians 1:15-16), but with a gracious obstinacy persist in our obedience to them” — “Whatsoever he saith to you, do it!” (John 2:5).

 

Abraham’s Sacrifice

 

Fifth, now I want us to look at Abraham’s sacrifice (vv. 3-10). As we read these verses, turn your thoughts away from Abraham. This is a picture of God’s whole purpose of grace and his work of redemption by the sacrifice of Christ.

 

“Abraham rose up early in the morning,” and prepared everything with great care (vv. 3-4).

 

“3 ¶ And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.”

 

Abraham had three long days to think about what must be done. As they journeyed those three days and slept through those three nights, the burden and sacrifice constantly lay upon his heart. But our heavenly Father planned, purposed, and ordained the sacrifice of his Son for us, not three days, nor three thousand days, but from eternity, before ever the world was made (Revelation 13;8; Ephesians 1:3-4). And he never thought about altering his purpose!

Š      Abraham carefully prepared everything for the sacrifice. And our great God carefully prepared everything for the sacrifice of his darling Son for us (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).

Š      “Abraham saw the place afar off!” So the Lord God, from everlasting set his heart and mind upon the place of sacrifice — Mt. Calvary!

 

Abraham and Isaac went to the mountain of sacrifice together alone (vv. 5-8). God is not a stone! He felt the sacrifice!

 

(Genesis 22:5-8) “5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid [it] upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here [am] I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where [is] the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”

 

Redemption was the work of God alone, a transaction between God the Father and God the Son. — “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

 

Twelve went with the Son of God to the Passover. Eleven went with him to the garden. Three went with him to pray. But when he went to the cross, our Savior was alone (Hebrews 1:3).

Š      The wood was laid upon Isaac’s back. — Christ carried his cross.

Š      The instruments of death were in the father’s hands.

Š      Isaac’s question (v. 7) — He knew that God could not be worshipped without a blood sacrifice (Exodus 12:13; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

Š      “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (v. 8). This is clearly a prophecy of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. — He is the Sacrifice for God! — He is the Sacrifice from God! Whatever sacrifice God requires, it is only what God has given! — He is the Sacrifice who is God!

 

At last they came to the place of sacrifice (vv. 9-10).

 

“9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”

 

Š      Abraham built the altar and laid the wood upon it.

Š      Abraham bound his son and laid him on the altar.

Š      Isaac willingly submitted to his father’s will.

Š      Abraham stretched forth his hand to kill his Son! (Zechariah 13:7).

 

Substitution Portrayed

 

Sixth, verses 11-13 reveal a beautiful, blessed picture of substitutionary redemption.

 

(Genesis 22:11-13) “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”

 

Once Abraham’s faith was proved, God intervened to save Isaac; and the type changes. In this same event we see how it is that God saves sinners by faith in Christ.

Š      When God spoke Abraham looked. — Faith comes by hearing.

Š      When he looked, he saw a ram — Christ.

Š      He offered the ram “in the stead of his Son!” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

Jehovah-jireh

 

Seventh, “Abraham called the name of that place, Jehovah-jireh” (v. 14). The primary thing to be seen in this chapter is not Abraham’s trial, but God’s provision for Abraham and his son upon the mount. The Lord God provided a ram as a substitute to die in the place of Isaac. There Abraham raised up an everlasting memorial to his God. The name by which God revealed himself to Abraham, “Jehovah-jireh,” may be translated in three ways. It could be translated “The Lord will See,” or “The Lord will Provide,” or “The Lord shall be Seen.” However we translate this name of our God, Jehovah-jireh expresses the idea of God seeing and being seen. For God, to see is to provide. You know how we sometimes say, “I will see to it,” when we mean, “I will take care of it,” or “I will provide for it.” That is the meaning here.

 

This is true with regard to all things in the lives of God’s saints. — The Lord will see, the Lord will provide, and the Lord shall be seen!

Š      If you believe God, if you follow the Lord’s bidding, he will see to it that you will not be ashamed or confounded (Romans 10:11).

Š      If you come into great need by following his command, the Lord will see to it that you lose nothing by your obedience.

Š      If difficulties rise like mountains before you, so that your way seems to be completely blocked up, your God will see to it that the way is cleared.

Walk in the way of obedience and, as you walk, every obstacle will fall before you. — “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5). Confer not with flesh and blood, and the Lord will make a way for you to do his will (Galatians 1:16). The Lord will see us through the way of faith and obedience, if we are willing to walk in it. He will see to our way, if we dare to walk in his way (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

But, as I said, the primary thing portrayed in this magnificent passage is our redemption by Christ and the revelation of God’s grace and glory in it.

Š      The Lord will see. — He sees our need! — Atonement, Righteousness.

Š      The Lord will provide what we need! — Christ.

Š      The Lord will be seen in the provision he makes! — The very glory of God is revealed in Jesus Christ crucified. — The ram was caught in Moriah’s thicket by his horns, by that which was his power and his glory.

 

Isaac Exalted

 

Eighth, when the whole work was done, Isaac, the object of his father’s love, was exalted (vv. 15-18; Philippians 2:9-11).

 

(Genesis 22:15-18) “And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son]: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”

 

Š      Isaac (Christ) was promised a great posterity. “He shall see his seed!”

Š      Isaac (Christ) was made to be a great ruler. — “Possess the gate of his enemies” (John 17:2; Psalm 2:8; Philippians 2:5-11).

Š      Isaac (Christ) became the source of universal blessedness (Ephesians 1:3).

 

Beersheba

 

Look at verse 19. Let me show you one more thing, and I will send you home. Abraham and Isaac rose up and went together back to Beersheba, the well of oath.

 

(Genesis 22:19) “So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.”

 

Beersheba was the point of separation(Genesis 21:14). Hagar and Ishmael were forever banished from the house of Abraham at Beersheba. So Abraham took Isaac back to Beersheba, as if to say, “Remember, son, you are everything. All my house is wrapped up in you!” — So God’s Church is forever free from the law. And all God’s house, all his treasure, all his riches, all his glory, all his grace is in Christ!

 

Beersheba was the place of the covenant (Genesis 21:31-32). It was at Beersheba that Abraham made a covenant and declared to Abimelech that all the land was his. He dug the well. He could and would do with it as he saw fit. And Abimelech had no say in the matter! — So in the covenant of grace God both asserted and exercised his complete proprietorship over all things and predestined all things for the salvation of his elect, according to the good pleasure of his will.

 

Beersheba was for Abraham and Isaac the place of worship (Genesis 21:33). There, at Beersheba, Abraham dug a well, built an altar, planted a grove, and worshipped the Triune Jehovah as his covenant God, the God of all grace revealed and known through his own dear Son, our crucified Substitute and Redeemer, the Lamb he provided for a burnt offering in the stead of his people!

 

Jehovah-jireh is the name of God our Savior. — “My son, God will provide!

Š      In Salvation!

Š      In Every Hour of Need!

Š      In All Providence!

Š      In Every Trial!

Š      In the Performance of Any Service!

Š      All the Days of Our Lives!

Š      When we Come to Die!

Š      At the Great White Throne!

Š      In Eternity!

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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