Let us pray: Dear Savior, life holds a lot of mysteries to us, but all the truly big ones are made understandable through faith in You. You answer the questions: “Why are we here? What is the true meaning of our lives? How can we cope with evil? And what happens to us when we die?” Lord, keep us from missing the point—as all unbelievers do—by focusing our faith on You and Your profound forgiving love outstretched to us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LAMB OF GOD WHO HAS COME TO TAKE AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!
TEXT: Genesis 22: 1-18
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
If ever there was a Biblical text which illustrates the hardness of the human heart and our innate inability to grasp the amazing truths of God in and through Jesus Christ, this lesson is it. Let me tell you what I mean.
First, you need to journey back in time and be take a little history. Abraham lived roughly 2000 years before Christ. The promised land wasn’t yet settled and Jerusalem didn’t yet exist. Instead, it was just a series of mountain ridges—one of them being Mt. Moriah. In the 2nd book of Chronicles 3: 1ff, we’re informed that Solomon later built the famous temple on Mt. Moriah. Later the Romans obliterated it for a 2nd time but part of the foundation of that temple, the wailing wall, remains and is considered the holiest place on earth for modern day Jews. Additionally, after the followers of Mohammed took Jerusalem they eventually built the Dome of the Rock mosque literally upon the temple mount—Mt. Moriah. For them it has significance because Abraham was their physical “father” since the desert tribes trace their lineage through his son, Ishmael.
Now, I’m pointing out all this because it helps explain the convoluted history of that little patch of the middle east. Unfortunately, it also screams out how clueless sinful humans can be and how, when it comes to the Gospel, hard-hearted people will spurn the truth of Jesus Christ. People will revere the place or location of an event but totally disregard the life-saving truth of what happened there. Such is the case of Mt. Moriah.
Abraham is well over 100 years old. Finally, he and Sarah had been blest by God with the birth of Isaac. God had kept His promise. And don’t forget the most important part: it was to be through Isaac’s lineage that the future Savior would come Who would save Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and all other believers in God’s promise. Yes, faith alone saves—when it is centered in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God!
God never attempts to corrupt us into evil actions. We don’t see the big picture, but He does. And apparently, God wanted to test Abraham as to whom he loved more: God or this wonderful son, Isaac? Of course, God really wanted Abraham to re-order his priorities in his own mind, and so this test of sacrificing Isaac is commanded.
It’s a stunner, isn’t it? Today we cannot imagine God doing this. But, as I said, He sees the ultimate picture and He had big truths and wonderful blessings in mind behind it all. Now, commentators have tried to explain all this away with various mental gymnastics. We’ll let the facts speak for themselves, but I will give you a couple of possibilities. 1. Killing another human is a violation of the 5th commandment. So, how could God tell Abraham to do it and why would he carry it out? 2. Did Abraham trust that at the last minute God would provide that ram, as happened, or perhaps he believed in the resurrection from the dead so firmly that he knew God would resurrect Isaac if he killed him? In any case, Abraham was ready to slay Isaac, wasn’t he?
Some artists portray Isaac as a 5 or 6 year old child at this time. Thus, Abraham, who is old and starting to get a bit frail could easily have handled him against his will. That’s wrong. Isaac was probably around 20, robust, and stronger than his father. And Isaac let his father bind him and lay him upon the altar for sacrifice. Isaac was a type of Christ. He willingly went to that altar. He was completely trusting in his father to do the right thing because Isaac knew Abraham loved him dearly.– A picture of Christ carrying out God the Father’s will upon the cross, isn’t it?
Then there is this stunning interchange: “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ …Do not lay a hand on the boy…Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.'” Later the angel of the Lord says: “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
First, most of the time in the OT the “angel of the Lord” is pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Since the “angel” speaks for God in the 1st person in this promise, that’s the case here. Jesus was there and spoke from heaven to Abraham on Mt. Moriah. Second, all this prefigures God the Father not withholding Jesus from us while sacrificing Him upon the altar of the cross. That’s how great the Father’s love is for us. Third, the ram was another version of the “Lamb of God” who came to take away the sins of the world. Through that ram the Lord has provided salvation and forgiveness for countless souls—The Messiah was born to Isaac’s lineage. And He still provides us with the life-saving power of the Gospel today, doesn’t He?!
We know from the rest of the Bible that the famous 3 part promise given here was kept by God both physically and spiritually. The children of Abraham via Isaac did take possession of Palestine. They did raise up cities. They did become numerous. And through them the promised Messiah eventually came—the ultimate blessing. Likewise, spiritually all who embrace Christ in faith are God’s children, heirs of this promise, and compromise the eventual population of heaven.
My point in outlining these truths is this: NEVER, EVER OVERLOOK THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL! The genetic progeny of Abraham, or the adherents of Judaism, have by and large overlooked the truth of the gospel in this story. They revere the place of Mt. Moriah but are clueless as to its real meaning. The followers of Islam likewise revere the place, but have overlooked the real gem this story conveys: that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, our Substitute, Who willingly died out of love for us in order to make us right with God. And all this is but a precursor of that cosmic truth. So, as we begin this season of Lent, Hold the Cross before your eyes and cling to the Gospel at all costs. For it alone, is the means whereby the Lord provides deliverance for your soul today. Amen