Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Genesis 22 -23

Genesis 22:1-10 – God Tests Faith

Some time later (about 10 years) when Isaac was a young adult God gave Abraham the ultimate test.  “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’” Gen. 22:2.  His only son?  What about Ishmael?  He was his son, too.  Ishmael was the symbol of the old nature and Isaac was the new nature.  Ishmael needed to be removed just as our old nature needs to be removed as we put on our new nature in Jesus Christ.   How could a God of love command Abraham to sacrifice his only son?  God Himself sacrificed His only son, Jesus.  Mt. Moriah was also the place where Jesus was crucified.  God was testing Abraham’s obedience.  With this test it would remind Abraham of his true faith.  We are tested by God many times in our own lives.  Temptation is intended to make us fail and is from God’s enemy.  Tests are designed for success and God wants us to believe in Him.  Tests are designed just for each one of us as individuals. 

Abraham had many tests.  He was asked to leave his country; he was put in the middle of a famine; he gained material wealth; there was conflict in his household; he had to send Ishmael away, but the test was the hardest of all.  Abraham made himself available to hear God’s call. 

How are you available? 
Can He get your attention?   
How will you respond, if He calls you?
Has God asked you to do something that you think is unreasonable?

Principle:
Faith sacrificially obeys God’s Word without explanation.

Abraham was focused on what he knew: that God could be trusted and he would be a great nation.  So Abraham obeyed and “rose up early in the morning”.  We would have probably taken more time to pray and fast about this, but Abraham did not.  He simply obeyed.  He even “split wood for the burnt offering” himself even though he had servants to do that for him.  Maybe he wanted to keep his mind busy and not think about what is ahead.  Then it took 3 days to get to the place God had told him.  This was more time to think about what he had to do.  It was an emotionally demanding journey.  I think this was all part of the Abraham’s test.  He told his servants to stay behind with his donkey.  He probably knew they would try to stop him.  Abraham knew God had a plan and he would not have to sacrifice Isaac, because he said to the servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Gen. 22:5b.  He probably thought even if Isaac died, God would bring him back to life.

Abraham then had Isaac carry the wood for the burnt offering, just like Jesus carried the cross to His crucifixion.  Isaac asked, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”Gen 22:7  Abraham replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son”Gen 22:8.  This again showed Abraham’s faith in God.  Both Isaac and Jesus were silent as they were led to slaughter.

Principle:
God Calls believers to put Him sacrificially first. 

God’s Word says He is to be first.   “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30.  Is He asking you to use part of that tax return or your savings for His purposes?

So far Abraham has passed the test.  Now he climbs Mount Moriah, builds an altar, arranges the wood, binds his son on the altar, and takes the knife to slay him.  Isaac showed no resistance and could have run away, but he obeyed and had total faith in Abraham just as Abraham did in God.  Isaac was taught about God and His faithfulness.  He also may have heard Abraham tell the servants that they would come back to them.

We as Christians want to trust and obey God, but what about when it comes to important things in our lives like our possessions, our loved ones, our plans and dreams? 
Are you willing to let go when He asked you to? 
Are you willing to sacrifice and be obedient in all area of your lives?

Genesis 22:11-19 – God Provides Sacrifice

God Himself as the angel of the Lord called our Abraham’s name.  “Do not lay a hand on the boy.  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.” Gen 22:12.  What moment that must have been.   God knew He was first in Abraham’s heart.  Now Abraham knew God had supreme love for him.  God provided a sacrifice for Abraham just as He always provides for us.  God did not want human sacrifice as the many pagan religions do.  Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket.  He took the ram and sacrificed it instead of his son. – Gen. 22:13.  Maybe this ram was there all the time and Abraham saw it as he approached to altar, but he didn’t try to catch it.  This may have been a temptation of Satan, but Abraham didn’t fall for it.

God knew ahead of time what Abraham would do and He knows ahead of time what we will do, but He wants us to act out our faith.  Our faith is proven by our deeds.  We don’t have to prove our faith to God, but sometime we need to prove it to ourselves.  He knows our hearts and wants us to pray even though He knows ahead of time what we are going to say.  He wants us to praise Him even though He knows ahead of time how we feel about Him.

Will you stop holding tight to things and hold them more loosely?
Will you trust God more?
How is God testing you?
How do you act out your faith?

God understands just what we are going through.  He Himself went through every trial and temptation we have and even those we haven’t gone through.  He did this through His Son Jesus.  God uses tests to test our obedience and commitment to Him. 

God reaffirms His promise to Abraham and added an additional promise. “they will take possession of the cities of their enemies” Gen. 22:17b.  and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Gen. 22:18.  Not just Israel will be blessed, but it refers to Jesus as the blessing for all nations.

Principle:
God provides what He requires.

Isaac was fully aware of his pardon when he heard God speak.  We are sinners and have been pardoned.  How is He that living atonement for you?  Isaac was never the same and neither are we.  How will you show your thankfulness? 

Genesis 22:20 – 23:1-20 – God Gives Hope

Sarah was 127 years old when she died.  She is the only woman whose age and death is recorded in scripture.  She died in Hebron which is about 40 miles from Beersheba.  Loss is worthy of tears.  Abraham missed his wife.  Even in his grief we see his testimony in verse 3.  Abraham trusted God’s promise by wanting to buy land for the burial and asked Ephron the Hittite to sell some to him.  Ephron wanted to give it to him, but Abraham refused the gift and offered to purchase it instead.  So he sells the land with a cave to him for 400 shekels.  Abraham buries Sarah in the cave there.  The field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham.  This land would belong to his descendants as God promised.

Principle:
Faith demonstrates hope for tomorrow in spite of today’s pain.

Abraham chose to live in the promises of God in the middle of his pain.  Our hope is beyond the grave.  Abraham chose to live in hope.  God want to use every ounce of your pain.  All Abraham’s tests prepared him for this moment of grief.  He had unwavering hope.  His hardest days gave him strength.  He did not quit.  How will you invest in the promises of God when you hurt?  Abraham’s hard days has impacted us.  How do you impact others?

3 comments:

Patrina's Pencil said...

"Abraham was focused on what he knew: that God could be trusted"

I like that!

This was very thoughtfully written, Linda. Are you a Bible Study teacher?

I like how you defined the difference between God's testing...and the enemy's temptation!

I also loved how you brought it all together in the end...

"Principle:
Faith demonstrates hope for tomorrow in spite of today’s pain."

and....

"Abraham chose to live in the promises of God in the middle of his pain. Our hope is beyond the grave. Abraham chose to live in hope. God want to use every ounce of your pain. All Abraham’s tests prepared him for this moment of grief. He had unwavering hope. His hardest days gave him strength. He did not quit."

I too choose to live in HOPE...

Thanks for this lesson of 'testing'..

blessings to you Linda

patrina <")>><


Linda said...

Thanks you Patrina. You have encouraged me very much. No I am not a Bible teacher, just a student. I have to give BSF credit. It has enspired me to many insights and lessons God has for us all.

Blessings,
Linda

Life and Breath and Everything Else said...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding - what a comfort to know that God is sovereign.