Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Abraham and Isaac

Proverbs 18:22 tells us that: "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD." This was brought home again to me recently. For a while now I have felt something lacking in my monthly preaching stint at our local retirement home. My wife was able to attend the service in July, and was quick to critique me. "It was too long and too deep. You need to preach on Bible stories that they are familiar with. You lost most of them in the first two minutes." Obviously she was right (and she loves to hear me say that). Many of those who attend the service seem to be slowly slipping back to a child like intellect. The following was my first attempt at following my wife's advice, and from what I could tell, it was a big improvement.

Genesis 22: 1-18

Most of us have known this story since we were youngsters attending Sunday School. It is the story of how God tested Abraham.

I have an old friend that I once tried to witness to. His stated reason for not being a Christian, had to do with this story. He said that any God who would ask a father to kill his own son was evil, and he wanted nothing to do with such a being.

We can find several good answers to this charge right here in this story, but I believe the best is this. Way back in Genesis 17, God makes it clear that it would be through Isaac that Abraham would be a father of many nations. Abraham had to have had that promise of God in mind as he set out to follow the instructions to make this sacrifice. If Isaac did not live long enough to take a wife and have children, it would make God a liar. We don't know what Abraham expected to happen, but we do know that he trusted God's word.

Another thing I would like to point out is that this act of obedience on Abraham's part was not what made him acceptable to God. As it says in Genesis 15:6 and in thee separate books of the NT, Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. (Gal. 3:6, Rom. 4:3, James 2:23) This was long before Abraham had a son, and in fact it was his belief in God's promise that he would have a son, which was counted for righteousness. That is what made Abraham acceptable to God; faith in God's word was counted in place of Abraham's own righteousness.

In God's eyes, our own righteousness, our own right acts; our own good deeds are as filthy rags as the prophet Isaiah tell us. The obedience displayed here by Abraham, was just a proof of his love for God, just as all of our good works after salvation are only a proof of our love for God.

Clearly this incident in Abraham's life is a picture of the sacrifice for sin which Christ made. I think that the location of this event is very significant. In 2nd Chronicles we find that the temple was built by Solomon in mount Moriah, which puts mount Moriah at Jerusalem. Note that in this account of Abraham's testing, he is instructed to go to Moriah, to a specific one of the mountains there. I believe that the mount to which God directed Abraham, was the very same one where Christ was crucified.

When we think of this story of Abraham and Isaac, we should not just look at it as a testimony of Abraham's obedience. Since it is a picture of Christ's death on the cross, this story should also serve as a reminder of the inconceivable love God has shown for his children.

As we consider Abraham's situation wherein he was to offer his son as a sacrifice, it is difficult to comprehend, and yet this is much the same situation that God the Father faced. His only son suffered and died to pay the price for our sins. That is amazing love.

The Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was counted for righteousness. John 3: 16 says, "For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." If you believe that, then God will count your belief for righteousness.

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