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Faith... For Better or For Worse
Genesis 22:1-19
Skip Heitzig

Genesis 22 (NKJV™)
1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."
6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am."
12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided."
15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,
16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son--
17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."
19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Making Your Mark

Skip speaks about the greatest test of Abraham's life and how he responded to it.

Are you satisfied with just getting through life or do you want to make a difference? God calls each of us to play an important role during our lifetime, but we often forget to seek His will. Join Pastor Skip Heitzig as he looks at the life of Abraham in this two-volume series. Abraham had both ups and downs when it came to his spiritual journey, but he made a lasting mark deep within the fabric of three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You may find striking parallels between Abraham's life and your own experiences. Learn how to leave a lasting impression on your world as you study the life of this great father of faith. Don't just live--make a mark with your life!

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Transcript

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Good morning once again. We're in Genesis chapter 22, I know that doesn't surprise you we were in Genesis 21 last week. So let's turn to Genesis 22 and you should put a marker in Hebrews chapter 11 this morning. Those two passages we're going to look at, primarily Genesis 22 but we're going to compare it with a New Testament commentary on that chapter, a couple verses out of Hebrews 11. Now we're getting settled, so let's get settled all the way and determine that we'll stay in this position for the rest of this service. Let's pray together.

Lord, we offer our hearts, our minds, and as we think through the truths we're about to read, it's important that we are in the frame of mind as to receive them, like that young prophet who said, "Speak Lord, your servant hears." Speak tous that we might hear, that it might change our perspective, our outlook and the way we live. In Jesus' name. Amen.

At my wedding I said vows and you said them too if you were married there's a variety of ways to go about the giving and saying of vows. But it basically isa commitment for better, for wrose, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death (not debt) do you part. Now I've given a lot of those vows out to couples, I've performed a lot of wedding ceremonies and I've watched a lot of brides coming down a lot of aisles with grooms excited to meet them, only to say those vows. But I can't help but feel they're only hearing a part of them. They're hearing the part that says better, richer, and health. Those three words stick out to them as they anticipate their future, it looks bright to them, they're excited about it, but not the worse, not the poorer, not the sickness. But we say vows to each other because we don't know what the future's going to hold. We don't know what turns in life we're going to take as a couple, so we say vows that basically state, "You're mine, I'm yours, I'm committed no matter what." Experiences will strain any relationship, they may be unforeseen, it could be health, finances, in-laws (that become outlaws), job issues, financial, all sorts. The results of all of those stresses and strains in relationship is that the marriage commitment is getting a shorter lifespan as time goes on. Commitments are shallower than ever before. In a class the question was asked: how do you decide whom to marry? It was cut when she said, she was nine years old, Kelly said, "you flip a nickel. Heads mean you stay with him, tails means you move on to the next." That's great when you're nine but if you try that when you're twenty-nine as is happening in our culture, it's a severe problem. Faith in God can be like that. Faith in God can be a shallow commitment and nothing more of short-lived passing love. In other words, "God I'll trust you as long as you bless me but when the blessings stop, when inconvenience and pain comes in, I may be out of here." That's not really true faith. I thought this week over the past several years, people that I have known, I could see them in my mind's eye, worshipping with them, reading the Bible with them, seeing them in fellowship, only to realize today they're not with us, they're out stagnating, because as Jesus said they were like the seed that was sown on the soil and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, choked the seed and it became unfruitful.

So here's the question this morning: How do you know if your faith is any good? Answer: Get it tested. Get it tested, put it to the test. How do you know if your knowledge is any good? You test it. How do you know if a product is any good? You bring it through rigorous testings. How do you know if your faith is any good? It will stand the test, that's how you know. True faith will get stronger, even in the midst of testings. In fact, when we're at ease, we're more in danger than at any other time. It's good periodically to be tested and that's why God allows it, to show us where we're at, He already knows. But the test will strengthen our faith.

I found something I wanted to read, by Ann Kimel and she used to be a singles writer, she wrote a lot of articles and books on being single. Then she got married. So she has a lot of stories of faith to tell in both arenas. And she writes, "Faith is kind of like jumping out of an airplane at ten thousand feet. If God doesn't catch you, you splatter. But how do you know whether or not He's going to catch you unless you jump." Now I know that doesn't sound very comforting, neither does that passage in James chapter 1, we know it's there but we're a little uncomfortable every time we read it, where James says, "Count it all joy brethren when you fall into various trials. We're not good at that, we know trials are coming, but rejoice in them? Count it all joy? "Knowing that," he continues, "the testing of your faith will produce perserverance (or patience) but let patience have its perfect work that you may be complete, lacking nothing."

This morning we're going to read several verses, let's just look at the story and then we'll outline it after we do that, "It came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham and he said to him, 'Abraham.'" And he said, "Here I am," and I've always liked that for some reason, we find that phrasing throughout the story, somebody calls their name and they go, "Here I am." Just, I don't know why I share it, it's just interesting. "And then he said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.' So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled the donkey and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, and he split the wood for the burnt offering, he arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, saw the place afar off, and Abraham said to the young men, 'Stay here with the donkey, the lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you.' So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, laid it on Isaac his son and he took the fire in his hand and a knife and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, 'My father,' and he said, 'Here I am, my son.' And then he said, 'Look, the fire and the wood, but where's the lamb for the burnt offering?' And Abraham said, 'My son, God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering.' So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him and Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar upon the wood and Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son but the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, 'Abraham Abraham.' And so he said, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him for now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.' Then Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place, "The Lord will provide." As it is said to this day, 'In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.' Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven. And he said, 'By myself I have sworn,' says the Lord, 'because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son. Blessing, I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies."

This morning if you're taking notes I want to give you three aspects of Abraham's faith. Of course as we do we will compare it to our own trust in God. The obvious and first thing is that Abraham's faith was tested, we are told as much. "It came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham." The Hebrew word for test is nausau, it means to prove the value or worth of something by putting it through adversity, to prove value or wroth by adversity and hardship. Now I don't know if you have the old King James but if some of you have it this morning, it doesn't read this way, it says, "And God did tempt Abraham." And that's really not the best rendition of it because you think of temptation as coming from Satan and not from God and that's correct. James chapter 1 says, God can't be tempted, nor does he tempt any man. So, testing is a better word, to prove the value and worth of something by adversity. There's a big difference between a temptation and a testing. Satan will tempt you to bring out the worst in you. God will test you to bring out the best. Satan will tempt you so that you might fall, God will test you that you might stand firm and secure. But we have a problem: It's not always easy for us to tell the difference between a temptation and a testing. Is this from Satan? Or, is this from God? And my answer when people ask, "How do I tell?" is: It doesn't matter because your character should be the same in both instances. You just trust God and his sovereignty. I'll give you an example: Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. You know the story, he was in Potiphar's house, he was in prison, and his brothers were trying to get back at him,k it was a revenge thing. At the same time, God used the situation and was working it together for good. Now Joseph could h ave easily asked, "Is this from Satan, Or, is this from God?" Answer: In the end it doesn't matter. And he discovered that, he said to his brothers, "As for you, you meant this for evil but God meant it for good, to save many people alive as it is this day. That's the bottom line, it's the 8:28 principle, Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to God's purpose. So this was a test from God

Now stop for just a moment and think about this, modern man has difficulty in thinking of God as a testing God. Modern man, including a whole group of Christians don't see God as somebody who would test mankind, put them to the test through adversity. In fact, the modern view of God is that God is this benevolent being whose job it is is to make me happy, and to make me feel good about myself. He's sort of like the director on a cruise ship. He's not there to test us, he's there to pamper us we think. In fact, there's a whole theology created around this: there's no pain, there's no suffering if you're a man or woman of faith. I don't know what Bible you're reading but my Bible doesn't say that, God did test Abraham and it was a severe test.

The essential truth about faith is that if you want your faith to be mature, growing, it's got to be tested. We say, "Oh I want to be a man of faith, I want to be a woman of faith." Great, I'm with you, so do I, let's stand together on that. But understand that the only way it's going to become mature and strong is by putting it through the fire of affliction, to see it tested. It's not by reading the latest book in Christian bookstores on how to have faith, it's by the experience of hardship and difficulty. Relationships are tested by sacrifice, they're not tested by flowers or words but by sacrifice. J. K. Gresset wrote, "God prepares great men for great tasks by great trials." In Genesis 22, if it teaches us anything is that faith in God during the difficult time of testing is enough to get you through. And we'll see that in just a minute.

I read a classic story about a wealthy woman who kept all of her money and precious jewels in bank vault. Her most prized possession of all of her jewels was a single beautiful pearl necklace. Pearls will lose their luster if they're not in contact with human skin, however. So to keep this thing looking good, a bank secretary would take it out of the vault and wear it to lunch once a week. What a great job, huh? Your faith, in order to keep its luster must maintain contact with the human condition, the gamut of life from birth to death and all that is the interface of those experiences. Abraham was tested, his faith was tested.

Now look back at verse 1 and notice something: the testing involved preparation. A phrase struck me this week, "It came to pass after these things..." which caused me to immediately ask, "Well what things? These things are those things that are written about in the previous chapter. The author is grying to tell us that this testing didn't come immediately after Isaac was born but there was a period of time that elapsed. Several years in fact went buy between chapters 21 and 22, from fifteen to perhaps twenty or more years between thse two chapters. If you go back tochapter 21, you can see it in verse 8, "the child grew and was weaned," so he was a few years old. Verse 20, "God was with the lad (this lad being Ishamael) and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness and became an archer. So we have both kids gorwing, time is passing, and verse 34 of chapter 21, "And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for many days.

How old was Isaac in chapter 22? Well we don't know. Some say at least ten, most commentators put him in the teenage years the Jewish rabbis assign him the age of thirty-seven. And I wondered about that, why would they say thirty-seven? Because they calculate the time of Sarah's death which would make him thirty-seven. Now the Bible doesn't say that she was dead here, we see that she dies later but the rabbis say because she's not present in the story and because no good mother is going to let Dad do that to her son, she must have been dead. Now we don't know that. But my greater point isn't his age as much as there was a period rest, growth, relaxation, satisfaction before the test came. I imagine that Abraham and Sarah and Isaac took long walks and just mused on how good God is. They're old, they had this son, they're getting older, he's getting older, they're talking about the future, the land, all the promises God made. Maybe Isaac said, "Dad, mom, I notice you're quite a bit older than the parents of my friends, what's up with that?" What a great story they could launch into about the faithfulness of God. So there was a time that elapsed that is a time of preparation, a time of rest, a time of enjoyment before the greatest trial of Abraham's life came.

There's an old Yiddish proverb that says, "God gives burdens but he also gives shoulders." And those years prepared the shoulders of Abraham to carry this burden that God laid on him in this commandment in the first two verses.

Look with me at verse 2, "Then he said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. (Now that was okay until the last part of the dictum) and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.'" This test involved preparation, this test involved great pain as well. There's nothing more sensitive, a nerve, that God have touched than this. "Do what? Kill him?" You see all of the promises and purposes of God were wrapped up in Isaac. "You know we waited twenty-five years for Isaac. My progeny rests on Isaac. The future inheritance of the land rests on Isaac. He's your promise. He's going to fulfill your promises, God. And now you tell me to end his life?" It ws the most painful thing he had ever heard. The dilemma that Abraham is facing is very obvious. Here's the dilemma: the promises of God require that Isaac live but the command of God requires that Isaac dies. Hmmm, do we have a self-contradictory God here? That is his dilemma. Now let me just say that the issue is not human sacrifice. A lot of people look at this and go, "I can't believe that God would give this kind of a man a command to kill a human being." The whole point is God prevented it from happening, he stopped it from happening and in the law of Moses, he will forbid that any human sacrifices ever committed by any of the children of Israel.

What is the issue then? Whom does Abraham love more? "Take now your son, your only son whom you love." "Abraham, do you love your son?" "Yes." "Do you love your son more than me? Are you willing to give up that which is most precious if I require it of you?" Jesus said, "he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. He who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. We all have our Isaac, do we not? We all have that area that we say, "this is precious, God don't touch that." And he may not touch that. But what if God, the Lord comes to you in an area of your life that he wants to strengthen you in and requires that which you hold so dear? It could be a place, "Oh I don't want to leave this place." It could be a person, "Oh, I don't want to lose this person." When I was dating my wife, she wsn't my wife at the time I was dating her but she obviously became my wife. Okay, that aside, it was a wonderful but frustrating time of dating. You see, I had cold feet. I asked her to marry me and then I said, "Now wait a minute, we've got to talk this over, this is a big commitment." And I waffled back and forth and I frustrated her. I said I loved her and then I said, "I'm not sure if we can go through with this." One night she came to me, she was in tears and she said, "Skip, listen to me, I love you so much that if I am not God's best and highest for you, I won't marry you." I was stunned. I went, "Whoa. I want to marry you now." She was willing to sacrifice that which at that point in her life meant so much to her because she wanted God's best and God's highest.

Well that's the test. Now let's look at a second point, not only was his faith tested, his faith was triumphant. Verse 3, "So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled the donkey, took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, split the wood for the burnt offering, arose and went to the place which God had told him." Now just a note, I want you to notice what's not in the text. There's nothing at all mentioned about the human emotion of Abraham, what he must have felt like. And perhaps it's not there because it's obvious, it would be obvious that any father would be grieved and broken-hearted over this. It's so obvious it doesn't even have to be written about or mentioned. That's probably the case but you know I've got to believe that Abraham got no sleep that night. If you're parents and you have a child having surgery the next day, you don't get much sleep if any. Knowing that this was going to come to pass. He probably turned and wrestled and thought, "I don't get it. What am I going to tell Sarah? Why did we wait twenty-five years? Why did you give us this son only to do this?" But he went. His faith was triumphant and it's not just in what he did but what he said. And here's the crux of it, I want you to follow me, look at verse 5, "And Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey, the lad and I will go yonder and worship.'" And notice this last phrase, if you've never noticed it before, latch onto it. "And we will come back." We? What do you mean, we? "Abraham, didn't God tell you to go kill your son? Now how can you say we will come back to you? Do you plan on disobeying? Or, are you putting a nice face on this issue so that these young men don't know anything's up?" Nope, this was a statement of faith, this is where his faith was triumphant. Abraham believed something, and perhaps the night before that lonely dark night, he solved the problem in his mind. You se there's only one of two conclusions if God would give him th is command to kill his son. Conclusion number one: God is erratic and cannot be trusted. Or, two: God is consistent and must be trusted. Conclusion number one, God is erratic and cannot be trusted, Abraham would think, "Well wait a minute God has never been erratic before, I've always been able to trust him before, he's proved my friend in the past." So he latches on to conclusion number two, God is consistent and therefore must be trusted. So he said in faith, "We're going but we'll be back. We'll be back." Not like Arnold, "I'll be back." "We'll be back, both of us," plural. Question: What was it exactly that Abraham believed that caused him to say, "We'll be back?" Ah, that's where you turn to Hebrews 11. There are two verses that are commentary, the New Testament commentary on the Old. A teacher always said, "The answers are in the back of the book." Hebrews 11, verse 17, "By faith (notice that is what is being highlighted) By faith Abraham when he was tested offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called.' (now notice this verse, verse 19 is the most important in this section) concluding that God was able to raise him up even from the dead from which he also received him in a figurative sense." What was Abraham's secret? The writer of Hebrews says he concluded, the Greek word logidzimi, he computed, he calculated, he logically mathematically thought it through and came to a conclusion, that's what the word means. And then, same verse, verse 19 concluding that God was able, dunatoshatheos, literally God was according to his power, God can do anything. Here's his thinking, here's his conclusion, he thought, "Now God is not a liar because he promised that I'd have a son, here's the son. The son must live for God's promises to be fulfilled, that the Messiah's going to come, the nations of the world will be blessed, etcetera, etcetera. So God is trustworthy, if the son does not live God is false but I've never known God to be false. Yet I have a command to kill my son. Conclusion: God will raise him from the dead. I'm going to put the knife in him and end his life and God is going to raise him from the dead if need be because I conclude from the character and nature of God that he's able to do it and he is faithful. So my son somehow is going to have to live.

Now let's apply that. Let's apply it to ourselves. When you and I are in a situation, maybe not like this but similar in some sense, that is, there we are wondering, "Is this really what God wants me to do? This does not seem logical. I don't know why God would allow this. But I'm going to start calculating and computing this situation based upon what I know the character of God to be and the power of God to be and I can only conclude it's going to be okay. That's my conclusion."

A boy went into his father's store, his father was a grocer. Dad had his shop divided into the main level and a wooden floor and a basement, a cellar underneath. There was a trap door right in the middle of the floor, you know in the old stores where it opens up, a ladder goes down, that's where you keep everything. The little boy walks into the store, Dad isn't there. "Daddy, where are you?" He hears a voice from down below, "Down here son in the basement." The trap door is open but it's dark from the top, all the ambient light is up on top. Dad looks up and can see his son, the son looks down, can't see his dad. "I'm down here, son. Just jump and I'll catch you." "Oh no, Daddy, I could never jump, I can't see you." "But I can see you, and you know me and you know that I love you and Daddy has never dropped you." And the little boy jumped, into a dark pit only to be caught by Dad. Why did he do it? Because he knew Dad and he knew that Dad loved him and he knew that Dad never let him down. So he jumped. That's Abraham's thinking, "I conclude, my bottom line assessment is based upon the power and character and nature of the God who loves me and has made all of these promises that this kid has to live somehow. So God's going to raise him up.

There's another secret to his faith, verse 5 of chapter 22 of Genesis. Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, the lad and I will go yonder and what? Now mark that word) we will go yonder and worship." The sacrifice of his son became his act of worship. Wow. I would say that Abraham was preoccupied with God. And you know when you're in a testing, when the temperature of your trial is turned up to max, it is so easy to be preoccupied with the temperature, with the oven, with the circumstances. But if you can shift and become preoccupied with God, you'll survive. You get preoccupied with the circumstances, it's easy to sink.

Abraham's secret, one of them, is that he knew God's power and God's character and number two he turned his time of pain into a time of worship. Our secret is this, instead of gazing at the trial and glancing at the Lord, we need to gaze at the Lord and glance at the trial. It's there, yes I know, it's not going to go away. But God

I read a story of an author who visited a church in Connecticut, it was a worship service, people were singing. And during the Hallelujah Chorus one lady raised her arms up to heaven. What struck this author who was visiting the church service is that this lady's arms were curled, mangled from arthritis and yet she raised them up in this awkward sense toward heaven, her crutches were by her side. And this author looked at that and he said, "Dear God, what would make a person love you and sing to you like that in that condition?" Answer: A woman preoccupied with God. And maybe that would be the best definition we could come up with for what true worship is: People preoccupied with God, he worshipped.

Now each of us has our Isaac and God may come and say, "I require that, I want you to lay that down. Are you willing? Do I have your heart?" And I don't think it's just a one-time deal, I find that God periodically tests my heart and says, "Are you willing to give it all up?"

There's a Chinese proverb that says, "A gem can't be polished without friction nor a man without trials." So the trials come and we're getting polished and we don't like it, it's a testing and God all the while is saying, "Will you trust me for better or for worse? For richer or for poorer? In sickness and in health? No matter what? Or will you say, 'I'm going to take my ball and go home. That's not faith.

I want to read something to you that I found, I don't know who wrote it, some anonymous author, but it's good, here's a part of it. "When God wants to thrill a man and skill a man, when he yearns with all of his heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world shall be amazed; watch his methods, watch his ways; how he ruthlessly perfects whom he royally elects, how he hammers him and hurts him and with mighty blows converts him into trial shapes of clay which only God understands." Some of you are experiencing that even today, that hammering, that testing of God, the God who loves you to polish it.

So, first Abraham's faith was tested. Second, Abraham's faith was triumphant. There's a third thing I want to remark on as we close. Abraham's faith was a type. He was a type. I want you to look back at Hebrews 11 at one phrase to get this, verse 19, "concluding that God was able to raise him up even from the dead (now notice this) from which he also received him in a figurative sense. Parabolei is the Greek word, figurative sense, parable derives from that. Abraham's experience was parabolic, a parallel of a greater event and we can't help but see a striking similarity between what happened to Abraham and Isaac and what would happen years later at a place called Calvary with Jesus Christ on the cross.

I want you to look back at verse 2 of chapter 22, "Take now your son, your what? Your only son, what do you mean your only son? Doesn't he have two? Ishmael and Isaac. But God's calling Isaac "your only son." Hebrews calls him your only begotten son. And we know why, Ishmael was the son of the flesh, Isaac was the son of the promise. In the very same chapter, in chapter 21, Ishmael is sent away so he has one left. But it's a striking word, "Take now your son (I know you've got two) but your only son." Look at verse 2 again, "Your only son whom you love." You should circle that word because this is the very first occurrence of the word love in all of the Bible is Genesis 22 verse 2. And isn't it telling that the first time the word love is ever used in the Bible, it's the love of a father for his son, more than that it's the love of a father for his son as he gives his son in sacrifice. Wow. What an imprint.

Verse 2 again, "Go to the land of Moriah." You know where that is? It's Jerusalem. It's where the temple will be built. II Chronicles 3 tells us, Solomon builds a temple on Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah is the place where all of the sacrifices would take place for the nation of Israel in their temple. But outside of Jerusalem Mount Moriah rises up toward the north and forms at the peak a place called Golgotha. "In the mountain of the Lord," Abraham said, "It will be provided." And it was: As Jesus Christ hung on Mount Moriah, the son of the father. Look at verse 4, it says, "On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off." How many days was Isaac dead in the mind of Abraham? Three days. It was a three days' journey from Beersheba to Moriah. Every day he got up, "My son I'm going to kill him." Next day, "My son, he's going to be dead." Next day, "He's going to die." And the third day he lifted up his eyes, he went up and on the third day his son came alive again, Hebrews says, in a figurative sense.

Then in verse 6, Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac." What a picture of his son carrying the wood that he would be laid on and sacrificed. As Jesus carried the cross that bear him up. So those are the similarities. It becomes a type as Hebrews tells us. But that is where the similarity ends and there's one major difference between the event of Abraham and Isaac and the events of Calvary. And here it is: Abraham didn't go through with it, God did. Abraham almost sacrificed his son but a ram was provided as a substitute. The Son of God, the Lamb of God died as the substitute for our sins.

Now Abraham entered into a kind of fellowship with God that very few of us enter into and probably none of us want to enter into. It's called the fellowship of God's sufferings. Remember when Paul in Philippians said, "Oh that I might know God and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings." We underline the first part, "I want to have fellowship with God and power." What about the second part? Do you want to have fellowship with God in his sufferings? Abraham did. It's the deepest kind of fellowship, to suffer in like manner as God did. Now here's Abraham, he lifts up that knife. And he's about ready to plunge that knife into his son before he is stopped, it's as if all of heaven is watching and is amazed, "Look at how much a man would love God to do that." But thousands of years later when God hung his son on a cross on that very mountain, all of heaven gasped, "Look at how much God loves them to do that." What a picture.

Are you being tested? It's hard, isn't it? Know that God would say, "Will you trust me? For better or for worse? For richer or for poorer? In sickness and in health? Til death do you part.

There was a little plant that was small little plant, stunted, for you see it grew under the shade of a large oak tree. And the little plant loved the shade of its friend the oak tree. It was its stability, its protection during storms. One day a woodsman came through the forest with an axe and started laying the axe to the roots of that big oak tree to chop it down. And the little plant was freaked out, distressed, cried out. And the little plant said, "No! No, now I won't have any shelter. Now the rough winds will blow upon me and the storms will uproot me." And the woodsman replied , "Oh no, now the sun will be able to get to you, the rain will be able to fall on you in more abundance than ever before. And now you will be able to grow and not stay stunted any longer. Now since you'll get more sunshine and rain, your flowers will blossom like they have never blossomed before. Understand folks, that that is your Father's heart toward you. "God if you loved me you wouldn't allow this to happen." "No, it's because I love you that this must happen. And you will be stronger and blossom without being stunted."

Heavenly Father, we think about these things and we know that we are dealing with someone who is not erratice but consistent, faithful and can be trusted. And we think about the sacrifice of Isaac but the greater sacrifice of Jesus and we remember what Paul said, "that he who did not spare his own son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not then with him freely give us all things." So we entrust---our lives, our future, to You. And Lord, I just pray for anyone who may have come that doesn't know you personally, that they'd get right with you today by coming to know Jesus as their atoning sacrifice. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/20/2003
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The Past: Guidepost Or Hitching Post?
Genesis 11:27-32
Skip Heitzig
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Today we embark on a new journey, studying the life of Abraham. I'm calling it, Making Your Mark. Abraham made his mark deep within the fabric of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. More than that, Scripture exonerates him as being an example of faith. But what about his past? How did he begin his journey of faith? You may find striking parallels to your own spiritual experience as we see five experiences that shaped Abraham's earlier life. Let’s learn the first steps in how to leave our mark of influence in our own culture.
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7/27/2003
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Buckle Up! You're Going on an Adventure!
Genesis 12:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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Have you ever thought of life as an adventure? Most people don't. Daily life becomes the daily grind as many just survive: eking out a tasteless and meaningless existence hoping something better comes along in the future. There's one factor that can make all the difference—it's called God's will! To live life according to God's promises and commands, even though difficult at times, will be the most exciting way to make your journey through this life. In this second study on Abraham, Making Your Mark, let's see three principles that brought this sense of adventure.
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8/3/2003
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Warning: Doubt Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!
Genesis 12:10-20
Skip Heitzig
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Doubting God's promises is often the foundational reason we don't experience His blessing. The children of Israel wandered for forty years before entering the Land. Why? "They were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief" (Hebrews 11:19). Their legacy was often to doubt, for the Psalmist says that they, "limited the Holy One of Israel" (Ps. 78:41). Now, even Abraham, the father of faith, struggles with trusting the most trustworthy Being that ever was!
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8/8/2003
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Two Men Under One Microscope
Genesis 13
Skip Heitzig
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8/17/2003
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The Glimmer of the Godly in a Cauldron of Crisis
Genesis 14
Skip Heitzig
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8/24/2003
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The Journey from Fear to Faith
Genesis 15:1-6
Skip Heitzig
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8/31/2003
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A Dark Night; A Bright Future
Genesis 15:7-21
Skip Heitzig
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9/14/2003
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Taking the Long Way Around
Genesis 16
Skip Heitzig
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9/21/2003
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A New Start for an Old Soldier
Genesis 17:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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9/28/2003
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When God Makes His Mark
Genesis 17:9-27
Skip Heitzig
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10/5/2003
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How To Be God's Friend
Genesis 18:1-15
Skip Heitzig
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10/12/2003
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Have I Got Plans For You!
Genesis 18:16-33
Skip Heitzig
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10/19/2003
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Shock and Awe!
Genesis 19:23-29
Skip Heitzig
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10/26/2003
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Re-run of a Star's Worst Episode
Genesis 20
Skip Heitzig
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The basic idea: Even after years have gone by, years of growth for Abraham, he relapsed into old behavior patterns. The sin principle is always a problem, even for the Christian. If the "old ways" are not sufficiently dealt with, they will grow and threaten to undo us. We look at four scenes in this rerun episode of Abraham, revealing how seriously this battle between the flesh and the spirit really is.
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11/9/2003
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The Gift of Laughter for Senior Citizens
Genesis 21:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham is old here (age 100—a centenarian). His wife Sarah delivers the child promised by God (Isaac) and the result is joy and laughter. We learn five things about the nature of God in this passage.
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11/23/2003
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Funeral for a Princess
Genesis 23
Skip Heitzig
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This message highlights the death of Sarah and her husband's response.
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12/7/2003
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Passing the Baton
Genesis 24
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham was the recipient of God's promises and blessing for many years. Now it's time to make sure that his son Isaac will also make his mark and inherit the promises of God. Abraham wants to pass the mantle of patriarch and the baton of blessing to his son by ensuring he marries the right person and continues the family line so that "all the nations of the earth will be blessed," as God had promised. What are the key principles for such an endeavor?
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12/14/2003
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A Senior Saint's Sunset Years
Genesis 25:1-11
Skip Heitzig
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Skip looks at Abraham's obituary as given in Genesis 25. After following his life from his call to leave his homeland, we now come to his last breath and subsequent burial. Encouragement and instruction for facing our own mortality will be considered.
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There are 18 additional messages in this series.
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