ABRAHAM OFFERS UP ISAAC
“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you“ (I Peter 4:12).
I Abraham‘s Crucial Trial Under the Hand of God
1. Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac as a burnt offering, [Genesis:22:1-2].
2. He obeyed promptly in starting for Mount Moriah the next morning, [Genesis:22:3] (See also [1 Chronicles:21:18-26]; [2 Chronicles:3:1].)
3. His servants were instructed to wait his and Isaac‘s return, [Genesis:22:4-5]; [Hebrews:11:17-19].
II Isaac Bound and Laid upon the Altar
1. Father and son proceeded together to the mount of sacrifice, [Genesis:22:6].
2. Abraham answered, prophetically, “God will provide himself a lamb,“ [Genesis:22:3] (See also [1 Chronicles:21:18-26]; [2 Chronicles:3:1].)
3. The altar was built, the wood arranged, and Isaac was bound and laid upon it, [Genesis:22:9].
III Abraham‘s Hand Stayed
1. With all things in readiness, Abraham lifted the knife to slay his son, [Genesis:22:10].
2. The Voice from Heaven said: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad,“ [Genesis:22:11-12]; [Proverbs:9:10].
3. Abraham beheld a ram caught in the thicket for a sacrifice, [Genesis:22:13-14].
IV The Covenant with Abraham Confirmed
1. The Lord, speaking a second time, bound Himself with an oath, [Genesis:22:15-16]; [Hebrews:6:17-18].
2. The blessing to Abraham, promised in the beginning, was confirmed, [Genesis:22:17]; [Genesis:12:2].
3. The promise to the nations was also confirmed, [Genesis:22:18]; [Genesis:12:3].
When one comes to the Lord seeking salvation, he receives it on the basis of an unconditional surrender. He makes promises to serve God. At sanctification, he renews those promises, and consecrates his life more fully to the Lord. God grants these Christian experiences on the basis of the promises that we make to Him. He grants, as it were, credit in advance; but a little later there will come times when one will have to meet the installments, when one will have to pay what was promised to God.
The time came when God called upon Abraham to fulfil His terms. The Scriptures say, “God did tempt Abraham.“ This means that God proved him. God does not tempt men in the sense that the devil tempts them, but He does prove them; He puts them to the test. God 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.“ Take your son, the one I have given you, Abraham, and sacrifice him unto Me. Do not let that son come between us; he is Mine too; I gave him to you, and I can require him at your hand.
This commandment came like a bolt of lightning out of the blue sky. Abraham was not expecting anything like this. He had waited for years for the fulfilment of the promise that God would give him a son. You can well imagine, after these years of waiting, what place Isaac would occupy in the heart of that father, and particularly so because in this son was wrapped up the promise that God had made to Abraham, that in Isaac should his seed be called. That was the promise, but this was one of those strange things that perhaps Abraham could not understand. However, there is not one intimation here that Abraham questioned what God commanded him to do or that Abraham halted, or that he conversed with any flesh and blood about it. Had he asked, someone no doubt would have said, “Oh, you don‘t have to do that; God doesn‘t require that of you“ But God did require it, and Abraham rose early in the morning and started right out to do what God told him to do. For three days he travelled, going toward the place to which God had called him.
Faith Without Sight
This was not a time of joy or exhilarant blessing for Abraham; it was a time of serious thinking. God was trying Abraham. He had consecrated his all, and that included Isaac. Now the question came as to whether Abraham was going to leave Isaac upon the altar, or take him off. But Abraham loved God, and put God first -- yea, even ahead of his own son whom God had given him. Sometimes people will say, “Well, the Lord has given me this or that.“ Job said: “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.“ God may be requiring a deeper consecration in your life.
“Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.“ It took faith for Abraham to say that. It tells us in the Book of Hebrews that Abraham by faith offered up Isaac, accounting that God was able to raise him from the dead. He felt so sure that God would fulfil His promises, that though he carried out the command of the Lord and offered his son, God would raise that lad from the dead.
With the wood laid upon Isaac, and with fire and a knife in his hand, Abraham started up the mountain to the place God had called him to. Isaac broke the silence of the journey with the question, “My father: . . . Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?“ Still keeping the burden within his own breast, Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.“
“They came to the place which God had told him of, and Abraham built an 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 . . .“ The voice of God was heard saying, “Abraham, Abraham.“ Faith was on trial; faith stood the test.
It takes no stretch of the imagination to know that Abraham went through the crucial trial of his life in the offering up of his son, his only son, whom he loved, in complete surrender -- which a burnt offering typifies. But this trip to Mount Moriah signified far more than just a trial for Abraham. The promise made to Abraham, often reiterated in the Bible, that “In thee shall all famines of the earth be blessed,“ pointed to the coming Messiah and the Gospel, which He should bring to earth.
God‘s promise to bless Abraham and make him a blessing, which was conditioned upon his leaving his country, kindred, and his father‘s house [Genesis:12:1-3], [Genesis:12:7]), was confirmed at the time he honoured God by avoiding strife and unselfishly giving Lot first choice when they separated [Genesis:13:14-17]); again, after he demonstrated his desire to honour God rather than receive personal gain [Genesis:15:5], [Genesis:15:7], [Genesis:15:18-21]); again, when he responded willingly to God‘s command, “Walk before me, and be thou perfect“ [Genesis:17:4-8], [Genesis:17:19]). Finally, upon this occasion of his offering up Isaac, God confirmed His promise by an oath, saying, “By myself have I sworn, . . . that in blessing I will bless thee, . . . because thou hast obeyed my voice“ [Genesis:22:16-18]). What an infinite blessing Abraham has been to all the peoples of the earth because he obeyed God!
The birth of Isaac, a child of promise, was the beginning of the fulfilment of the promise of the coming of Christ -- “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.“ And when Isaac was taken up to Mount Moriah to be offered up, he typified the “Lamb of God“ upon Mount Calvary. Abraham‘s surrendering Isaac typified the sacrifice God made in the yielding up of His only begotten Son: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life“ [John:3:16]).
The Voice that spoke out of Heaven spared Abraham‘s son, and a substitute was provided for Isaac; but with the wood of the cross upon His own back, the Lamb of God went to Calvary. There was no substitute, for there was no other who could atone for our sins. The heavens were black and the earth trembled, but there was no voice from above, for God “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all“ [Romans:8:32]).
Our Reasonable Service
There is nothing a Christian can give that can compare with the Gift God gave to this world; but in return for the love that He has shown us God wants our affections centred on Him. “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service“ [Romans:12:1]). Consecration is not complete when it offers our sons, daughters, and families, for God wants us to present ourselves unto Him -- a living sacrifice -- a daily yielding of ourselves completely unto God.
Paul said, “I keep under my body“ [1 Corinthians:9:27]). He meant I bruise it, I hold it under, that Christ might be all in all. Jesus knew the heart of man when He said, “If any man come to me, and hate not . . . his own life also, he cannot be my disciple“ [Luke:14:26]). Many fail because there is a desire in the heart for a certain thing, or to do a certain thing, or to have a certain thing, which might be lawful, but not expedient. There you have the opportunity to say, “No. I will not have this though the Word of God does not condemn it, and though I might have it for I want to bruise my body; I want to prove that by God‘s grace I have power over my body.“ Many people never think of denying themselves anything, and yet many times the denying ourselves of those little things is a sure road to a deeper walk with God.
Let us not sit down by our cross, or let somebody else carry it, but let us take up our own cross and follow Jesus. Let us not withhold from God the dearest treasure of our heart, but obey Him implicitly in all things, day by day, and thereby be a source of blessing to many others.
1. What were the circumstances, which might have made it particularly hard for Abraham to obey God‘s command about his son?
2. What other noted events took place upon Mount Moriah to which Abraham was directed?
3. When Abraham instructed his two servants to tarry until he and his son returned, why did he think they both would return?
4. What part did Isaac have in the fulfilment of the promise made to Abraham when God called him out of Haran?
5. In what way was Isaac typical of the Christ when Abraham laid him as a burnt offering upon the altar?
6. What was prophetic in Abraham‘s answer to his son, “God will provide himself a lamb“?
7. What godly virtue did Abraham manifest when he took his son on that three-days‘ journey to Mount Moriah?
8. What would you say were three great virtues in Abraham‘s character in his walk upon earth?
9. How did Abraham‘s walk bring about the fulfilment of God‘s promise that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed“