Read: Genesis 22:1-14
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did [test] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 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.” (Genesis 22:1-2, KJV)
In Part 1, we learned the first four lessons that God taught Abraham about full obedience. In this sermon, we continue with four more lessons.
Lesson 5: We Must Obey God Completely
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. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide [for] Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” So they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son. (Gen. 22:6-10)
Abraham passes the test! I don’t know about you, but there’s a feeling of gladness in my heart as I read those words. He persevered to the end. He made it to the finish line. He obeyed God completely! Completely. He didn’t go all the way to the mountain and then sacrifice a lamb instead. He didn’t offer one of his servants in Isaac’s place. No, Abraham obeyed God.
Do you remember the story of King Saul and the Amalekites? Do you remember how Samuel told Saul to destroy them completely? Saul did destroy them, but he decided that he would keep Agag the king alive and save some of the good animals for sacrifice. Do you remember what Samuel had to say about that?
And Samuel said, “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:22-23)
Let me sum up what Samuel was saying: if you refuse to do everything that God has told you to do, you have disobeyed Him. Let me say it again, and I want it to sink in—if you refuse to do everything that God has told you to do, you have disobeyed Him. How many times have we obeyed God— mostly?
How many times have we done almost everything that God wanted us to do? Abraham stands before us here as a model of someone who obeyed God completely!
And the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 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.” 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. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh [The LORD Will Provide], as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen [will be provided].” (Gen. 22:11-14)
Who is the “angel of the Lord”? Well, verse 12 gives His identity away. Notice that He says, “from Me,” equating himself with God. Here is a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ (“the angel of the Lord”). What a powerful scene! Jesus Christ Himself, the Lamb of God, the One who takes away the sins of the world, reaches out to stop Abraham from cutting Isaac’s throat—“No,” He says, “Do nothing to him!”
And you and I, looking on, lift our eyes to the horizon of history and see, etched in black against the sky—a cross…a cross with the Son of God bleeding and dying in Isaac’s place…in my place…in your place. “The Lord will provide”—those words thunder down through time to redeem a lost and wretched world! God has indeed provided! Praise His name!
Lesson 6: The Faith that Saves is the Faith That Obeys
James chapter two has a short word of commentary on this story:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered up Isaac his son upon the altar. Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS IMPUTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only. (James 2:21-24)
Did you notice what James says in verse 24? He says that a “man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” The reason James says this is because there were those who were saying, “I believe in God; I’m a Christian,” and yet their lives and conduct did not produce the fruit of obedience.
You see, James is interested in what kind of faith it is that justifies, because there are different kinds of faith. Did you know that? There are different kinds of faith: there is a faith that is dead and a faith that is alive. The faith that truly saves is the faith that has a vital, living spirit to it—it is an obedient faith.
Lesson 7: God Delights to Experience Our Love for Him
Did you notice what God said in verse 12? “…For now I know that you fear God.” Have you ever wondered why God said that? Obviously, God knows everything. He knows how we will respond to the tests and trials He sends our way. He knew how Abraham would respond long before He ever tested him.
So why does He say, “Now I know”? I think the answer is that God delights in experiencing our love for Him. That’s why I think God said what He did in verse 12: “…for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” God knew “now” from experience.
God had experienced Abraham’s faith in action! And God delighted in his obedience…as He delights in our obedience. Oh that we might live to please Him!
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven a second time, and said, “By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, because thou hast done this thing and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, 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. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. (Gen. 22:15-19)
Lesson 8: God Promises Are Sure and His Word is Unchangeable
In verses 15 through 18 we have a repeat of the promises that had been made to Abraham by God on previous occasions. We’re all familiar with the promises and these verses have several things in common with the statements that God had made before:
- I will greatly bless you (Gen. 12:2);
- I will multiply your descendants (Gen. 12:3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:4-6);
- Through you the nations of the earth will be blessed (Gen. 12:3; 18:18).
Eight Lessons to Remember
- God tests us to help us grow and become more like Christ.
- God cares about us and the things that are dear to our hearts.
- We must obey God without delay.
- We must anchor our faith in the person and promises of God.
- We must obey God completely.
- The faith that saves is the faith that obeys.
- God delights to experience our love for Him.
- God’s promises are sure and His Word is unchangeable.
Let us remember that God is worthy of our trust. He never is unwise in His dealings with us. His knowledge is infinite, and He only desires our very best. We can choose to trust His love even when we don’t understand.
Originally published in God’s Revivalist. Used by permission.