Sermon on Genesis 22:1-18
Text: Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants 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, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Mountain ranges are interesting. When you come to the foothills, they are all that you can see. They look imposing. Yet, when you get to the top of one range, you can see other mountains in the distance, oftentimes bigger than the one that you are on. This morning, we want to look at the events that took place on one mountaintop, while keeping our attention on events that occurred on another. This morning, we LOOK FROM MORIAH TO CALVARY. 1. See A Father’s Willing Sacrifice. 2. See A Son’s Unquestioning Obedience. 3. See A Substitute Which Was Offered.
Our text begins with God calling Abraham. God had something he wanted Abraham to do. He said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Verse 2) Can you imagine how Abraham felt? Abraham had waited 100 years for Isaac’s birth. He was the only son Abraham had with his wife, Sarah. Isaac was the joy of his life. As a matter of fact, the name “Isaac” means “he laughs.” Just by the name, we are reminded of Abraham’s love for and joy in Isaac. Now God came to him and told him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.
We need to remember something about God’s command. Our text says that “God tested Abraham.” (Verse 1) God was giving Abraham a chance to show his faith. He was allowing Abraham a chance to see how much he loved God. God had not changed his mind. He still did not want human sacrifice. Rather, God was doing this to strengthen Abraham’s faith. This was the purpose of God’s command. He wanted Abraham to look with an even purer trust to the Lord. He wanted Abraham to show himself that he loved God even more than his own son.
It was for that reason that God may allow bad things to enter our lives. They are there to strengthen our hold on him and release any dependence on anything else. We are also comforted in the words of Scripture which tell us that we will not be tested beyond what we can bear, but that God will always provide a way out. These tests are never meant to crush, but to build up. May we remember this when evils enter our lives.
How did Abraham respond to this command of God? Verse 3 of our text tells us, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.” Abraham immediately went on the journey that God had told him to start. He showed no hesitation. As they traveled for three days, it must have given Abraham quite a bit of time to think. Yet, again, we hear of no hesitation. When they got to the mountain, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son because he loved God.
As we see Abraham going up the mountain to sacrifice his son, we cannot help but reminded of another Father who was willing to sacrifice his only Son. Of course, we are speaking of God the Father, who sent his Son Jesus to the earth to be sacrificed. God sent his Son Jesus to be sacrificed on the altar of the cross. He did not hesitate or hold back his Son from what would happen to him. He was willing to sacrifice his Son, and love was the reason. God the Father loved us, even though we are sinners and his enemies. We wanted nothing to do with God. Yet, God loved us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his Son for us to pay for the sins that we had committed against him. Later, we will see that Abraham was prevented from sacrificing his son. However, God did not stop himself. He allowed his Son to be put to death for us. God the Father showed us that he was willing to sacrifice his Son for us. We thank God for his love.
One thing that you may notice from this text is the lack of what Isaac said. We have only one question from Isaac. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Verse 7) After Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” (Verse 8) we are told they continued up the mountain. They built an altar and laid the wood on it. Then, we are told, “He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.” (Verse 9) We are not told of any struggle that took place. It appears that Isaac accepted what God had told his father and would allow himself to be sacrificed. His faith and trust in God allowed him to obey God without any questions.
Jesus also obeyed his Father with and unquestioning obedience. Jesus willingly went the way that would lead to a cross. Just as Isaac offered no quarrel or struggle to what his father was about to do, so also Jesus quietly obeyed his Father. The prophet Isaiah pictures Jesus’ obedience in this way, “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) He did not back away from what would happen to him. He willingly went the way that would lead him to suffering and death. Jesus willingly obeyed his Father, because of his love for his Father and us, as well.
Isaac was lying on top of the wood and Abraham raised the knife to kill his only son. Then God called to him and said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy . . . Do not do anything to him.” (Verse 12) God stepped in and stopped Abraham. Abraham had shown that he loved God more than even his only son. God’s test was completed.
Then we are told, “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Verse 13) Abraham sacrificed this ram on the altar that was intended for his son. The ram was offered as a substitute for Isaac.
Jesus was also a substitute, as he took the place of the entire world. You and I deserved the full punishment of hell for every single sinful word, thought and action. God does not look the other way when sin is committed. Because he is all-knowing, he is aware of every single sin. We had no way of changing this. We could never save ourselves. Then, however, Jesus stepped in. He lived a perfect, sinless life that we could never live. Then, he sacrificed that life for us. He allowed himself to be punished in our place. Jesus took the full brunt of our sinful actions. When our sins had been completely paid for, God looked at and looks at us as if we had never sinned. Because Jesus took our place, we can and do look forward to spending our eternity in heaven. He paid our debt, when he was our substitute.
Unfortunately, some people do not fully see what Jesus has done for them. There are those who do not care that Jesus died for them. Others think that they have to help Jesus pay for their sins. May the same never be said of us. May we always see Jesus as our substitute who took our place. He was offered for us. May our lives mirror his self-sacrificing love for others.
The theme of our sermon this morning was “Look From Moriah To Calvary.” In reality, we haven’t changed locations. Moriah is one of the hills that the city of Jerusalem was built on. Jerusalem is the place where Jesus gave up his life on the cross. As we studied the events that took place on Moriah, we cannot help but be reminded of what would take place centuries later. In both cases, we have seen a Father’s willing sacrifice. We have seen a Son’s unquestioning obedience. We have also seen a substitute offered. As we go through this season of Lent, may we once again be reminded of the love that has been shown to us. May we keep our Savior’s love as the focal point of our lives. Amen.
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