Imagine getting the news that your child is dead. It is unthinkable. Now, imagine having to kill your child. Even more unthinkable. Who could do that? Well, out of the average parents, who could do that?
This was the last lesson of Phillip’s in this series on Friendship With God. Here is what it basically said.
Abraham was tested a third time by God, in a most difficult way, by far. It does not make sense. God does not normally ask us to sacrifice our children to him and punished Israel when they sacrificed their children to idols.
Genesis 21:1-8 tells of the birth of Isaac, whom God promised to him in his old age and through Sarah-a woman, who, in her youth was barren. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old and it happened just as God had promised. What a joyous occasion!
The idea of this occasion made Abraham and Sarah laugh and when Isaac was born, Sarah laughed again. In verse 6, Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” Verse 7 is still describing her joy and amazement at nursing a baby and giving Abraham a son in his old age. This event was also a miracle.
Abraham’s joy was turned to sorrow after the boy was weaned. God asked Abraham to do the unthinkable.
Genesis 22:1-2-“Now it came about after these things , that God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, “Here I am.”
2 “And He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah: and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
Phillip said that this passage was very disturbing to him and if a sceptic of the Bible showed this passage to him and told him to explain it, he would try, but it would be a task. He also said that this is one of the strangest accounts in the Bible. Whether we can explain it or not, it is right there on the pages.
Not only is it disturbing but it is ungodly. It goes against God’s nature. It also goes against God’s promises that He has made to Abraham for decades-that he would have a son, a son in his old age, a large nation would come from his descendants. Now God wants Abraham to slay him. This does not make sense on many levels.
Even though he had questioned God in the past, he just goes this time. How?!
Genesis 22:3-14 tells of Abraham almost offering Isaac and the angel stopping him. This passage is filled with several parallels of what Abraham was called to do to his son and what God did as far as His son.
1) Moriah was a place in Canaan that was a mountainous desert and was later to be called Judea. Hundreds of years later, David would capture this place and build the capitol, Jerusalem. The temple would be built there. This is where Jesus was marched out to a mount and sacrificed.
2) Isaac carried the wood just like Jesus bore the cross.
3) The two of them walked on together. Isaac is old enough to carry the wood. He is old enough to wonder what is going on. He is old enough to make a dash. How hard would it be to get away from a one hundred year old man? Abraham was compliant, however, and so was Isaac-a willing son. We see that Abraham trusted God and Isaac trusted Abraham, his father.
4) Isaac is not sacrificed but a lamb is put in his place. Many times throughout the Bible, Jesus is called the Lamb of God. John 1
We all want to ask why God would ask Abraham to do something like this but we have to pose the question right beside it. Why would God, willingly, without anyone asking Him, sacrifice His son and go through with it?
Abraham’s relationship with God was sealed by this event and God made the promises to him, once again because he obeyed Him.
vs 5 Abraham makes a strange statement: “And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder, and we will worship and return to you.'”
Did you catch that? Abraham said “we” will return to you. If Abraham sacrificed Isaac, wouldn’t just one person be returning? Was he trying to trick the servants, so they would not follow him and try to stop it? Or, in his heart, was he telling the absolute truth-that he intended to return to them with Isaac? How could that happen if Isaac is dead?
Hebrew 11 answers this. In the last two sermons, Phillip used Hebrews to describe Abraham’s faith but something else is told to us.
vs 17-“By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;”
vs 18-“it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.'”
vs19-“He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type.”
Phillip said that Abraham believed that God could take non-life and make life. Had he ever seen someone raised from the dead? No, even though he had lived a long time. But he still believed in God’s promises and thought that since God was going to make a nation out of his son, what must be going on is that God is going to resurrect Isaac. Another parallel. A resurrection, in a sense.
This third test teaches us something about friendship with God.
James 2:21-23-“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?…faith was perfected; and the scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.”
Phillip used the example of a car. If you go off the road, the natural response is to jerk it back on and that is the worst thing you can do because you will lose control of the car. You have to retrain your reasoning to not jerk it back on the road.
We have to retrain our mind to resist some reasoning on some things in our friendship with God. The idea of revenge seems natural. If someone has mistreated you and others, what do they deserve? For us to let them have it. What does God ask us to do? Leave the vengeance to Him. Heb. 10:30
Our reasoning tells us that being with certain people and getting involved in certain pleasures will make us happy. God says, “No, it’s not. It’s dangerous, don’t go over there. That is sin.” Whose reasoning are we going to trust?
What natural, fatherly instinct would have led Abraham to do what he did?
Genesis 22:12- The angel told Abraham not to harm the boy because, “I know that you fear God,”.
This does not mean being scared of-it is a healthy respect for God-to see Him for who He is and treat Him with reverence. There is a sense of fear but in the sense of submitting to Him. This is a doorway to friendship with God. It is a unique friendship.
Abraham knew that if he would just obey God, He would do things that are marvelous! God is the only one who is worthy to demand our complete obedience. We do submit to police, teachers, bosses, etc. but God alone is completely trustworthy.
What is God calling us to do? He did not ask the same thing of anyone else that he asked of Abraham. Jesus did not tell everyone to sell all of their possessions and give to the poor. He only told the rich, young ruler. We all have corners in our hearts that we have not completely given over in obedience to God. What’s in your corner?
This account teaches us that as much as Isaac meant to Abraham, God meant more to him. He teaches us of a maturity in our relationship with God.
Hebrews 11:13-“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, having welcomed them from distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
Why? vs16-“For they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
Abraham was close enough to God to want to be with Him in heaven. That is what friendship really is-just being with each other.