Isaac, The Test of Love

Genesis 22:1-14

1 ¶ Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."

2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

3 ¶ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

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

5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.

7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"

8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.

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

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

11 ¶ But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am."

12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided."

 

We have alluded to the birth of Isaac in previous messages. He was born when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. They named him Isaac which means laughter. I don't know if it was a laughing matter.

When Isaac was weaned at about two or three his older half brother, Ishmael, mocked his younger brother. This somewhat upset Sarah and she wanted Ishmael and his mother kicked out. Although Abraham was reluctant to yield to the request, God told him to follow Sarh's wishes. Ishmael would later have twelve sons and begin what today is a large portion of the Arab world.

Sometime after this, we do not know how long, God once again came to Abraham. This time in a dream God comes to test Abraham. We suppose that Isaac was by this time a young man. His mother was still alive for she died when he was 37.

God's test of Abraham has caused untold troubles for Bible expositors. But if you want to know about all the difficulties you will need to look somewhere else. We just want to get to the good stuff this morning.

How will Abraham come out on this test? This would surely tell us who Abraham loved the most, God or Isaac. But would Abraham go through with it.

  1. The Place
    1. Moriah: The chosen of Jehovah. Some contend that Mount Gerizim is meant, but most probably we are to regard this as one of the hills of Jerusalem. Here Solomon's temple was built, on the spot that had been the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite #2Sa 24:24,25 2Ch 3:1 It is usually included in Zion, to the north-east of which it lay, and from which it was separated by the Tyropoean valley. This was "the land of Moriah" to which Abraham went to offer up his son Isaac #Ge 22:2 It has been supposed that the highest point of the temple hill, which is now covered by the Muslim Kubbetes-Sakhrah, or "Dome of the Rock," is the actual site of Araunah's threshing-floor. Here also, one thousand years after Abraham, David built an altar and offered sacrifices to God. Easton Bible Dictionary
    2. Moriah
      1. Mount Moriah The destroying angel, sent to punish David for his vanity in taking a census of the people, was stayed in his work of destruction near a threshing-floor belonging to Araunah which was situated on Mount Moriah. Araunah offered it to David as a free gift, together with the oxen and the threshing instruments; but the king insisted on purchasing it at its full price 2Sa 24:24 1Ch 21:24,25 for, according to the law of sacrifices, he could not offer to God what cost him nothing. On the same place Solomon afterwards erected the temple 2Sa 24:16 2 Chronicles 3:1 ¶ Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
  2. The Trial
    1. This would test Abraham's faith.
      1. At age 75 he was childless.
      2. God called him and promised him that his descendants would be as the sand by the sea.
      3. Yet 8 years later, still no children.
      4. So Sarah had suggested that God could use some help and gave Hagar to her husband intending to make Hagar's child hers.
        1. That all went very badly as we can suppose.
        2. She later mistreated Hagar so badly that she ran away and would have perished except that God interceded and sent her back.
        3. Without doubt there would always be strife between the two women and their sons.
        4. But Abraham would still love Ishmael but it would be through Isaac that the promises would be fulfilled.
      5. Abraham had always believed and obeyed God.
        1. When God said get up and go, without telling him where, Abraham went.
        2. When he endured the famine of the "Promised" land, he did not return home.
        3. Even after 25 years without God doing what He had promised, Abraham still followed.
        4. But could he believe that God now wanted him to take the life of this precious son who he loved more than life itself.
        5. You have to admit that a man who would take off after an army for his nephew would do quite a bit to save his son.
      6. Some has pointed out that it was not to Lot that the test of faith came.
        1. Lot had long ago proved unworthy for such a test.
        2. Lot had sold out for the pleasures of Sodom.
        3. For all practical purposes Lot lost his children even though God never required them of him.
        4. Many who would save their children loose them.
        5. Abraham, who would sacrifice his son would receive him back alive from the dead as it were in a figure. Heb. 11:19
    2. This would test Abraham's love.
      1. We have no doubt that Abraham loved God.
      2. But now Abraham has a son, a son of his old age.
      3. When God came to ask for his son, what would he do.
      4. Could he follow through with this seemingly ridiculous plan.
      5. But we notice that he does.
        1. He leaves the very next morning.
        2. Not waiting or hesitating.
        3. He prepares the wood himself.
        4. A fella can work out a lot of frustrations cutting wood.
        5. He takes two servants with him, some say that in the mouth of two witnesses every word would be established.
    3. We also face similar trials.
      1. 1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love.
      2. James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
      3. Many of us think that if God would ask some great thing, that we would step up to the challenge and make the sacrifice.
        1. One person I read after said that is like saying if God would come to me and ask to $1,000.00 I would give it.
        2. But what is more probable is that God is going to send us to the bank to cash that check and bring it back in quarters.
        3. And then He is going to ask us to give it a few coins at a time.
        4. If we are not faithful in the small things, don't worry that God will require of us any more.
        5. Luke 16:10 "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 "And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own? 13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
    4. Jesus also calls us to a test of love.
      1. Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
      2. 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world----the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life----is not of the Father but is of the world.
      3. Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
      4. Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
      5. A friend of mine described a colleague as great at running the "ninety-five-yard dash." That is a distinction I can do without. Lacking the last five yards makes the first ninety-five pointless. -- Max DePree, Leadership Is an Art. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.
      6. John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
  3. The Results
    1. Abraham believed beyond belief.
      1. He counted that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead.
        1. Do you see where he says in v-5 where he tells the servants we will go and we will return.
        2. Do you not see in verse 8 where he tells Isaac, God will provide himself a lamb.
        3. Hebrews says that Abraham believed that God would raise him from the dead, even from the ashes of a burnt sacrifice.
        4. Heb. 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
        5. Now that is faith.
      2. He saw no contradiction in God or His word.
      3. He sealed forever himself as the father of the faithful.
    2. He set an example for us to follow.
      1. I was reading something about the Coast Guard the other day.
      2. There was something about a motto that went like this: We have to go out, we do not have to return.
      3. For over 20 centuries God has been calling His people to do the impossible, not promising them either success or freeness from persecution.
      4. I think Abraham would have rather have died than to sacrifice Isaac.
      5. But that is not what God had asked for.
    3. He displayed for us what great love God had for us.
      1. That God would give His only Son to die for you and me.
      2. That God would give His Son that he loved for you and for me.
      3. When you ask yourself the question as to weather God is worthy of your love, remember how he displayed His love for you.
      4. If I live to be 120 I will never loose the awe that God could love me that much.

What is God calling you today?

What is the test of your love?

Is God asking for $1,000.00 or is he asking for a quarter at a time.

At the very heart of the Christian gospel is a cross--the symbol of suffering and sacrifice, of hurt and pain and humiliation and rejection. I want no part of the Christian message which does not call me to involvement, requires of me no sacrifice, takes from me no comfort, requires of me less than the best I have to give. The duty of a Christian is to be faithful, not popular or successful. -- Donald Wildmon in NFD Journal. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 10.

Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. "To give my life for Christ appears glorious," he said. "To pour myself out for others ... to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom--I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.

"We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table--'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.'

"But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, 'Get lost.' Go to a committee meeting. Give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

"Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul."

 -- Darryl Bell, Maple Grove, Minnesota. Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 4.

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com