By Derek Westmoreland
Senior Pastor, Hopewell Baptist Church, Savannah
Focal Passage: Genesis 22:1-14
The test. Verse 1 reveals that God tested Abraham. Tests are good for they reveal your faith or lack of faith. In verse 2 He (God) said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Isaac was the son of promise. In Genesis 17:19 God had promised Abraham that the descendants of His everlasting covenant would come through Isaac. Now in verse 2, Abraham is told to sacrifice Isaac. This test defied logic. It was unreasonable from a human perspective and would therefore reveal whether or not Abraham would cling to his son or would cling to his Lord?
Abraham’s response. (1) Obedience. Abraham got up early to obey the Lord (v. 3). He made preparations and began the journey. Abraham traveled three days (v. 4) in obedience without knowing the final destination. He trusted the Lord when life didn’t make sense. Abraham’s example teaches us that if you want to know the answers to what God has for you down the road, you must be willing to obey what He tells you to do today.
(2) Wisdom. Abraham knew that he could not take the young men with him for they would not allow him to take Isaac’s life (v. 5). He also knew it was not his responsibility to share with them what the Lord had revealed to him. Once Abraham and Isaac were alone (v. 7) Isaac asked where the lamb for the burnt offering was?” Abraham, as a father, was asked a question that he wished Isaac, his son, had not asked. Abraham answered carefully and honestly. He confirmed the truth that God would provide the offering without revealing that the offering would be his son. Abraham demonstrated wisdom and handled the situation like any God-fearing, child-loving father would. He protected his son from what his son did not need to know.
(3) Faith. In verse 9b we read that … Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. It was Abraham’s faith in God that carried him through this difficult test. Who would want to offer their own son; yet Abraham did not ask questions. Abraham did not ask “why?” when God showed him the specific mountain. Abraham did not question God when he was asked by Isaac about the sacrifice. Abraham did not ask “why?” when he was preparing the altar.
The story reaches its climax in verse 10 where it reads, Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son because Abraham believed God would honor His Word to bless the descendants of Isaac and would therefore raise Isaac from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19a reveals this truth when it says, By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, … He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead. Abraham had matured to this stage of faith for when previously tested he had lied about Sarah being his wife.
Passing the test. Verses 13-14 reveal that God provided a substitute for Isaac, a ram in the thicket. Abraham thought God would raise Isaac from the dead but that was not the case. God provided a substitute.
In closing, notice where the Lord provided for Abraham’s needs? He provided at the place where Abraham was supposed to be. God did not provide a substitute when Abraham was at home. God did not provide when Abraham was at the base of the mountain. God provided for Abraham when he was where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing. God will provide for you as well when you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing!