1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
As I was preparing for this message I was struck with how quickly Abraham obeyed God’s command. He has been consistent at questioning or setting up backup plans. Then I noticed something. Every time he is called to do something that involves other people, or it risks them more than him, he is quicker to do it. It seems like he is super selfish. In most of the mistakes he makes, or the areas he doesn’t fully trust God, it is because it risks HIS life/comfort/etc. For instance, his safety in the land being provided by his own lies instead of trusting God. Nothing major here, just a note that we are inclined to be faithful faster if the risks aren’t only in our court. Abraham was told to step out in faith and he would be mainly the perpetrator/observer of the anticipated miracle (resurrection of Isaac), so he jumped to it.
4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
Imagine the struggle here. Though Abraham knew God was faithful and would provide he still had to look at his son and ask him to be a part of it knowing he was about to sacrifice him. Abraham had seen the bloodshed over and over again and now he had to do it to his prized possession: his son. Scripture has all of this insinuated emotion that we often overlook. Don’t belittle how massive of a task Abraham had here. He had waited so long for this child! Years spent waiting, anticipating. By the time the child was born Abraham had already fallen so deeply in love with the child that this was like asking a man who had been married for fifty years to kill his wife (no jokes here…). Deep emotions, deep anxiety, deep sorrow at what was ahead. Yet faithful.
God doesn’t pretend emotions are not involved. He is aware of how hard things are because of our natural bodies. He understands those extra variables, but still calls us to be faithful. Abraham is honored because through all of those emotions he was still confident in the Lord.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Points from sermon:
- Sermons are linked each week, building on principles of recent sermons. Last week we ended with faith covering all of our mistakes… but what is faith? Hebrews 11 verse one says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.” Faith is being confident, courageous, bold, immovable in something. Our trust is firm!!
Not my problem
- Hebrews 11: 17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
- It may look illogical, unsolvable, or straight impossible, but that’s not our problem. There’s no way God can lie and He is the one who set this up this way. I didn’t set it up, so it’s not my problem to explain the HOW. The Israelites didn’t setup the way God would take down the walls of Jericho. David didn’t setup the situation with Goliath. All of those processes look like an impossibility on the surface, but that’s how He set it up. We are called to walk in faith and trust God because of His Word, not because of how we see it can be done. The process from His promise to His action is not our problem.
So… what are we called to do that’s like Abraham?
- Don’t worry about what you will eat, drink, or any other of your provision. Focus on God first… Matthew 6 33 says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (provision) will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. We are called to trust this promise from God and walk in that, trusting He will follow through. He has given us point A (Don’t worry about this stuff) and point B (He provides), but not the path between the two. Yet He shows us the practical reminder of simply looking out our window and seeing it happen every single day. Verse 26 of that same chapter says: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
- The critic or skeptic may say, “should I quit my job, stop feeding my kids, and stop locking my doors at night?” No… I am not saying to seek out illogical things and do those things, I am calling us to listen to God speak and look past all the fleshly apprehensions and logical reasons why we shouldn’t listen. I am calling us to look past the illogical when it calls us to be disobedient. However, you cannot be seeking after your own plan, and NOT seeking God’s kingdom first and have this same potential. If you are on your own path, your own direction, then it is your problem… Keep from changing “Not my problem” to “my problem” by simply seeking the Kingdom first!
- Pivoting is changing direction around a single point. As God did with this story, He often draws us to a point of obedience and then once we reach that point He will shift direction. I am calling this a pivot. He brings Abraham to this point of faithfulness so that He could shift direction and have him do something else. Many times when this happens to us we have one of two responses:
- Often use these circumstances to deter us.
- We feel we have heard God speak (like Abraham) and then the voice says something different, so we assume we should stop listening to this. We look at how the outcome was different than we expected and we assume it is because we didn’t correctly hear God speak.
- Obstinately push forward.
- Other’s hear God’s first command and will NOT let the second command lead them. They obstinately keep going with the first command. In Abraham’s case it would be him killing the boy regardless of God’s second direction.
- Often use these circumstances to deter us.
- So what do we do to fix these things and avoid those two ditches? Look for the pivot direction, don’t lose focus. Instead of assuming we have missed the mark, or pushing forward in our flesh, look around and see what God is saying, where He is directing us. The first command likely wasn’t your idea, it was a push towards a certain path. So, why would you assume the follow ups would align with your plan? This is God’s story, this is God’s world, we are called to always be listening and observing what He wants us to do EVEN if that is while doing what we heard Him say before.
- Our entire call to share the Gospel is a pivot. God used to focus on one nation and a set of rules to point out what God wanted in a Messiah. God setup rules so that we could look at our lives and see the inadequacy we have with dealing with sin. Jesus came and God pivoted!! He shifted focus from a set a rules to identity the Messiah to rules based on Love and trusting in Jesus (the Messiah). In the beginning of this story God called us to be faithful by being obedient solely to His commands (it seemed) and call others to that same obedience. In those times people who were disobedient were cast out of the camp. Now we are called to love people. Everyone. Regardless of their obedience. This is our pivot. Love other’s regardless of what you see in them.
There’s a whole lot more that can be added to all of these points. So if you want to expound on any of these or chat about it, lemme know.