God Reveals His Love for You
Dear Heavenly Father and dear Lord Jesus Christ, the sacrifice that You have both made for me deserves all thanks, praise, honor, and glory. The love that You have shown all mankind is what has rescued me from sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. May I never take for granted the love You have shown to me and may my life always reflect that great act of love that You completed on the cross. Amen!
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2 He said, "Take 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, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you." 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8 Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."
GOD REVEALS HIS LOVE FOR YOU
I. The Love of a Father Willing to Sacrifice His Son
II. The Love of a Son Willing to Sacrifice Himself
Dear Friends in Christ, Fellow Redeemed!
Imagine with me for a second, that you live, not in modern America, not in the New Testament times, not even in the Old Testament times, but back even farther--back to the time of Abraham and the other patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob, after the flood, yet before the time of enslavement and eventual exodus of Egypt.
Because Moses is the one who wrote the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. And he wrote them after they left Egypt.
Now ask yourself another question. How do you know about God? It is an interesting thought for us to consider this morning, because, in our time, we have Scripture. We have the Holy Word of God in which God reveals Himself to us through the holy writers.
Think of all the things you know about God from this book. You know that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV) You know that you can trust God when He says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).
You know that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 ESV). You know that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV). You know that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV). You know that Jesus came into the world and said, “I have come that [my sheep] may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV).
You know so much about your God from the Bible! From personal Bible studies and from family devotions. From listening to sermons and from participating in Bible classes and studies. From attending our Christian Day School and from going to Sunday School.
You know so much about your God! And yet once again, put yourself into the shoes of Abraham and his wife Sarah. Everything they knew about God was passed down to them from their parents and forefathers. The history of Adam and Eve, the garden of Eden, and the fall into sin. Cain and the murder of his brother Abel. The steady corruption of the earth resulting in the purging of the great flood and the rescue of Noah and his family through the ark. The pride of mankind at the tower of Babel and the confusion of the languages.
And this brief history covered in the first 11 chapters of Genesis, bring us to a little before 2000 BC. We are close to one-third of the way through the history of the world! And to this point we don’t know very much that has been revealed regarding God’s plan of salvation. We know that He will send a Seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent. We know that there were some like Enoch and Noah who believed in the promise of God to deal with sin and that they were seen as righteous before Him. We know that it was promised to Abraham that through his descendants all the nations of the earth would be blessed. And we know that Isaac, his son, was the one through whom this promise would continue.
But there is so much that has to be revealed yet through the inspired Word of God. Who would this Seed be? What would He do? How would He do it?
I believe our text this morning describing Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is God revealing Himself and His plan of salvation a little more to mankind. It was and still is a way for God’s believers to see the level of love that God has for each one of us. GOD REVEALS HIS LOVE FOR YOU. The Love of a Father Willing to Sacrifice His Son and the Love of a Son Willing to Sacrifice Himself.
I. The Love of a Father Willing to Sacrifice His Son
One of the first questions we have to answer when we consider when we look at this biblical account is, “How could God possibly demand human sacrifice?” Isn’t that something that God is completely opposed to?
Well, first consider that Isaac was the longed for, promised descendant that God had assured Abraham would come for many, many years. And now He was finally here. Born to Abraham in his old age. It certainly could have been a danger for Abraham to slowly come to a point where his love for his son outweighed his love for his God.
So, what God was really asking Abraham for was a “spiritual sacrifice” of his son Isaac. As Jesus said many years later, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37 ESV). Yet, in order to make this a true test of the faith of Abraham, God asks for the sacrifice of Isaac.
We hear of no protest from Abraham, but rather the next morning he arose early and took everything he would need for the three-day journey to Moriah. Can you imagine the thoughts running through Abraham’s head for three straight days? “God, why are You asking me to do this thing which is so contrary to everything You have promised me?”
Until, finally, by faith Abraham reached a conclusion that we are given divine insight into through the writer to the Hebrews. We read that Abraham, “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19 ESV).
And yet, as much trust and faith as Abraham had in the Lord, he was still not able to speak the words of action to his son when Isaac asked him where the lamb was for the burnt offering. Yet still the faith of Abraham led him to the very point reaching out his hand and taking the knife to slaughter his son, his only son Isaac, whom he loved.
But doesn’t that language found in verse 2 of our text remind you of a description of someone else? At the baptism of Jesus Christ, the voice of the Father came down from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 ESV). At the mount of transfiguration, the voice of the Father came down and said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him” (Matthew 17:5 ESV).
The relationship between God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ, is a perfect relationship of love that goes beyond what Abraham and Isaac had and beyond anything we can imagine. Jesus described this relationship at times saying, “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the father” (John 14:31 ESV). And “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30 ESV). And “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10 ESV).
And so, you can see the love of God revealed dimly in the actions taken by Abraham four thousand years ago. For as good of a father as Abraham was to Isaac, God was a greater Father. And as good of a son as Isaac was to Abraham, Jesus was a greater Son.
Through this ultimate test of faith, trust, and love that God gave to Abraham, God is REVEALING HIS LOVE FOR YOU. The love, not just of a sinful father, but the love of a perfect father willing to sacrifice even His very own Son.
II. The Love of a Son Willing to Sacrifice Himself
But that is not the only love revealed to us here. Because even though this test must have been very difficult for Abraham. We also see a great amount of faith, trust, and love on the part of Isaac as well.
You see, despite the picture that is found on the front of your bulletin and the many Sunday School lessons you have seen in your life, Isaac was likely more of a grown man than a little boy. After all, he carried up all the wood that was needed for the sacrifice all the way up a mountain. In fact, most of the commentators I read believed that he was somewhere between 20 and 30 years old.
That kind of changes our perspective of the account, doesn’t it? Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. Can you imagine a 120-year-old man physically manhandling a 20-year-old man in his prime? No way! Isaac could have resisted if he wanted to. But showing trust and love to his father, Abraham, Isaac submitted to the will of his father and the will of God. It would have been easy to think, “the old man finally went crazy!” But Isaac trusted the Lord.
In the same way, Jesus put His trust and love in the Lord when He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 ESV) Isaac could have walked away if he has wanted to. Jesus could have walked away if He wanted to.
In fact, Jesus later said, “Do you not think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53 ESV). Isaac was a young man, he could have overpowered his old father and walked away, yet he was willing to sacrifice himself. Jesus had all of the might and power of God in His very hands, yet He was willing to sacrifice Himself.
It takes a special kind of love to lay down one’s life for someone else. In fact, the apostle Paul described it like this, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7,8 NIV). It would be hard enough to sacrifice yourself for someone you like or love, but Christ gave Himself up for us! His enemies!
Jesus said it like this, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ESV). In the person of Isaac, we can see the love that Jesus would eventually show to us. We can see the Love of a Son Willing to Sacrifice Himself.
And so, we come to the conclusion of the account of the testing of Abraham. Two great examples of love for us, both of them pointing to the love that God and His Son Jesus would someday display on the cross of Calvary.
And just as Abraham is about to drop the knife into the heart of his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah. The same mountain, by the way that we read King Solomon would build the temple of Jerusalem on (2 Chronicles 3:1). The same place that 2000 years later Jesus would be hauled before the religious rulers of the nation of Israel and be condemned for blasphemy.
In this same place, the angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ appeared to Abraham and stayed his hand from harming the boy. It was all a test for these two, for Abraham and Isaac. It was all a picture of the sacrifice and love required to appease a righteous and just God.
Yet for Jesus, it was not a test. As He faced the beatings and the cross, He knew there would be no angel appearing from heaven to suddenly stop it all. He suffered on Golgotha for the sins of all mankind and He sacrificed Himself to the end.
You see, God did not desire the death of Isaac. God desired the trust of Abraham and Isaac. God desired to show the Old Testament believers, the New Testament believers, and all people the deep love that He has for each one of us. The love that allowed Him to strike His Son with all the wrath and fury that the sins of the world rightfully deserved. That allowed Him to give His Son to the suffering of Hell itself on the cross.
It is that love that now means we are reconciled to God. It is that love that makes you God’s own dear child. May we all rejoice in that love. May we all be amazed by that love. May we all abide in that love. Forever. Amen.
Pastor Joe Naumann