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Before There Were Kings 3 - Abraham Lays it All Down

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Reading: Genesis 22:1-18; Hebrews 11:17-19
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.   Genesis 22:13 (NIV)

I.    Not exactly a Written exam

      A.  A kind of Trial

            1.   God tested Abraham, not a test of what he knew, but a test of who he was.

                   a.   When we think of a test we think the important thing is what is in our heads.

                   b.   In the Bible a test is almost never a test of what we know, but of what kind of stuff we’re made of.

            2.   More like a trial, a probing, a test of limits.

                   a.   How far will Abraham trust me?

                   b.   Abraham is on trial and heaven is a court weighing the evidence of faith

            3.   Abraham didn’t know it was a trial until after it was over.

                   a.   It wouldn’t have been a real trial if Abraham knew it was only a trial.

                   b.   Can you imagine yourself in his shoes?

      B.  Not the First one

            1.   Abraham had his share of trials and tests already!

                   a.   He left his home. Was childless for years.

                   b.   Prayed to spare Lot and his family.

            2.   Won’t God ever let up!?

                   a.   How many tests does one man need?

                   b.   Ever felt like that?

            3.   It won’t be the last either.

                   a.   Abraham has more ahead!

                   b.   Life is full of trials. And we usually don’t recognize them for what they are.

      C.  An opportunity for faith Deepening

            1.   This kind of test is not only for finding boundaries, but for expanding them.

                   a.   God allowed Abraham to exercise his faith in a way it had never been before.

                   b.   He was to learn more of God than he ever knew before.

            2.   When our faith is tested it either grows or shrinks, there is no status quo.

                   a.   Life is full of crises of faith.

                   b.   We can turn to the right or the left, but the path definitely makes us choose.

II.   Abraham’s future on the Altar

      A.  Abraham’s only beloved Son

            1.   Isaac was the son of Sarah and had a special place in Abraham’s heart.

                   a.   Ishmael was also a son, but not the “only beloved.”

            2.   Abraham and Sarah had longed their whole lives for a child and this was him.

                   a.   How could Abraham have been more delighted than when this one was born?

                   b.   Besides, he was a real miracle baby!

            3.   God would later name Jesus “My beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”

                   a.   These words echo God’s words of his son when Jesus was Baptized.

      B.  The fulfillment of all of God’s Promises

            1.   Isaac was supposed to be the child through whom God kept his promises to Abraham.

                   a.   Isaac even asks, “where’s the lamb?”

                   b.   Abraham says “God will provide.”

            2.   How could this be right? How could this make sense?

                   a.   How could he not question this painful request God was making?

                   b.   Hadn’t God said he would fulfill his promise through Isaac? (Gen. 21:12)

            3.   How don’t we too, hang on more to the promise than God Himself at times.

                   a.   Abraham was choosing between God’s blessing and God himself.

                   b.   How often don’t we get distracted by God’s good things and miss God!

      C.  Abraham lays it All down

            1.   As Hebrews puts it, Abraham believed God would simply raise the dead.

                   a.   God had never raised the dead, nor promised he would.

                   b.   A man who truly did not see and yet believed.

            2.   Genesis records no hesitation.

                   a.   The three day journey wasn’t enough to deter Abraham.

            3.   He set it all aside and simply did what God asked.

                   a.   He lay down what he treasured most.

III.  God Provides

      A.  God Stops Abraham

            1.   Abraham takes the knife, light glances off the blade, poised at Isaac’s heart.

                   a.   Abraham would make it quick, at least.

            2.   God stops him, calling out his name, as he did when this test began.

                   a.   This time he calls out his name twice.

                   b.   Don’t lay a hand on him. Don’t do anything (again twice — a double command to undo the first).

            3.   “Now I know you fear God.”

                   a.   Abraham was pushed to his farthest limits and hadn’t yet come to the end of his trust in God.

      B.  God provides a Substitute for Isaac

            1.   Abraham looks up.

                   a.   As he had done before to see the stars

                   b.   Now to see a provision for sacrifice.

            2.   There’s a ram there: an adult male sheep.

                   a.   It is tangled by it’s horns

                   b.   He sacrificed it “instead of his son.”

            3.   God himself provided the appropriate sacrifice.

      C.  God provides Us a substitute.

            1.   What’s that Ram doing there?

                   a.   How did it get there?

                   b.   Years later the 1st born in Egypt would be spared with the blood of sheep.

                   c.   We too are spared with the once for all sacrifice of Jesus.

            2.   In place of all of the children of Abraham God provides a substitute sacrifice.

                   a.   All of Abraham’s children are on that Altar — literally and figuratively.

                   b.   All of us are spared by God’s provision.

            3.   Abraham names the place Jehovah Jireh — The Lord provides. And he has.

                   a.   Look up and see a man nailed to a cross. He is God’s provision for us.

The Bottom Line:

Give your All to God. He will Provide for you.

Hymn Red #20: We Praise Thee, O God

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