Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered July 27, 2002 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Abraham: Piercing the Heart

Genesis 22:1-19

Well, today is the last in a series of sermons on Abraham. We have really enjoyed this series. We're starting a new series next Sabbath. We're going to get into the Tender-Hearted Commandments. We're going to state them more positively of what you can do. I'm excited about that. There's an old song that says, "Pray and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to pray and obey." Or something like that. Oh, Trust and obey. You trust by praying.

And we're going to begin a brand new prayer meeting series this coming Wednesday night that I have the privilege of conducting on prayer, and how to really get into prayer. That's where the secret is. That's the key to a secret, wonderful, vibrant Christian life.

So, let's talk about Abraham today.

I want you to imagine you and your wife had suddenly and finally become parents after waiting almost a hundred years. Ca you imagine that? I can't imagine it either. You've waited a hundred years. You're a hundred years old and now, all of a sudden your miracle happened and you have a new, little, precious baby boy. And he grows up and he becomes a precious little child.

That's what Isaac was like.

I want us to read this story. Let's come back to Genesis 22, and I want you to look at verse 2, because one day, right out of the blue you hear a voice, and the voice says something like this: 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.

That's pretty serious isn't it. What if you heard that voice? You might say, "Well, Lord, it's sort of nebulous what you want me to do. I actually have two sons an I can't figure out which one it is." Well, no, because He says, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, the one you love." Is there any doubt there which boy it was? In fact, God says it's the only son you've got. Maybe Abraham could say, "Well, You know, I don't recognize this voice. I don't like voices in my head telling me to go kill people. That's not very good. I'm not a manic depressant. I don't like this. I don't recognize Your voice anyway. I'm not going to do it." I want to tell you that Abraham did recognize God's voice. He knew that that was God. There was not a doubt in his mind about it. So he is going to do it. I want you to pretend that you are Abraham and you don't know the end of the story here. You just get a command to sacrifice your own son, what would you do? Now, honestly, how many of you would do that? It's kind of scary, isn't it?

We're zeroing in on the richest chapter in Abraham's experience. You put yourself in his shoes and you just think, "Huh? I am supposed to go out and do a human sacrifice? on my own son? I can never have another one. I've waited a hundred years for this boy. I can't murder my own boy. I can't do it. There is no way I could do that." Would you do it? Abraham did. He set out to kill his only son.

Now, apparently, in God's sight, Ishmael is not considered the son because He said, "Your only son."

Genesis 22:1. What was God doing? God was testing Abraham. And you never really got tested Lot. Do you read anywhere in the Bible that God tested Lot? Lot's puny character was well known already. He didn't have to test him.

But God put Abraham through a very tough test. When the devil tests you, he does it to destroy you. When God tests you, He does it to bring out the best in you. And we've all been tested. I remember when I got my driver's license way back there in Indiana. I got that card that allowed me to drive a car! Have your teenagers gotten that hot piece of plastic yet? It's kind of neat, isn't it. Well, we've taken S.A.T. tests. We've taken our finals in schools. The toughest test that you will ever have to take in your entire life pertains to your spiritual commitment. That's the toughest test anyone could have. And, we're all going to have that test. And it may happen today, it may happen when you get cancer. You don't know when it will happen. But, it's going to happen.

God is basically asking you, "Who do you love the most? Do you love Isaac? Or do you love Me?"

But, God should have known that anyway. Isn't God omniscient? God knows everything, so why does He have to test Abraham? He knows Abraham. He can see the future. He knows what Abraham is going to do. So, why does He have to test him? Why does He have to do that? I don't know. But He does.

In Genesis 22:1 there's an interesting three words in this phrase. God calls his name. He said to him, "Abraham!" What did Abraham say? He said, "Here I am." "Here am I." Actually what that means: that's like when you're in the Army, you're in Viet Nam or wherever you're at, your sergeant calls you and you say, "Yes, sir!" That's what Abraham was doing. He was saying, "I am at your disposal, Lord. What do You want? I will do it. I'm going to do whatever you tell me to do. Anything." And so, that's what's going on here. He is willing. "You name it, and I'll do it." Moses, the author of Genesis, never does share how Abraham felt.

We don't have any idea of his feelings. Did he feel good about this? Did he feel bad about it? Did he cry? We don't have any idea. There is none of that here. His emotions are shielded from us. I would be interested in those feelings. Had Mrs. Moses written this, we would have had a lot more feelings in here. I think if more lady authors had authored the Bible, we would have a lot more feeling words. But we don't. I'm sure he had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. And too many of us go by feelings. We have religion by goose bumps. If it feels good we do it, and if it doesn't feel good we don't do it. We are not directed by feeling. We are directed by faith. We are directed by truth. Not by feeling.

Has God ever asked you to knife a bad habit, a cherished sin? Don't hesitate. You go right out and do it. You bind that bad habit to the altar, knife it, burn it, get rid of it.

Now, I would like to think that when Abraham found out the extreme nature of God's command that he would maybe question God, because he did that with Lot. Do you remember how he dickered (bargained) with God? God said, "I'm going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah." And Abraham said, "Well, now, just wait a minute. Let's think this through. If there were fifty who were true to You would you destroy them?" "No, I won't do that." "How about forty five?" "No, I wouldn't do that." "Well, what about forty?" "No, I guess not." "What about thirty?"...and twenty...and ten?" Why did Abraham do that? Because he loved his nephew, Lot. And yet here in Genesis 22 does he dicker with God? Does he argue with God? No, there is no argument of any kind. "I'll do it. Certainly, I'll just go and kill Isaac." Is this the same Abraham? It is! There's no discussion. He didn't even talk it over with Sarah. She probably would have talked him out of it. She probably would have had him committed. "You're getting senile, Abraham."

I would expect Abraham to ask,

No, he doesn't ask. He doesn't argue. He just submits and does what God wants him to do. He obeys. And what we see here is instant obedience.

Come to Genesis 22:3. Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled 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. When did he do it? Early the next morning. Instant obedience. Now, had God given Abraham a deadline? "I expect you to do this by uh four days from now." No, there is no deadline. In fact, Abraham could have waited maybe three or four days. He could have waited a week. He could have waited a month or he could have waited a year. There was no deadline here. "Wait until Isaac had kids. Wait until he gives me some grandkids and then I'll do it when he's old before I die." No, he didn't do that.

He had instant obedience. And I believe that is a mark of sainthood. When God lays it on your heart to do something, you need to do it right then. You don't want to wait. You don't want to delay.

Isaac was what Abraham had waited one hundred years to receive. In fact, Isaac was the most treasured possession that Abraham ever had. When you wait a hundred years, and you finally get it, it's the most valuable thing you've got. You know you can't replace it. And so, what's going on here? God is asking Abraham to give Him his most treasured possession, the most prized. Would you do that if He asked you? Do the records show that you at the present moment are giving your valuables to God? Or are you stockpiling them back for your future use instead of God's use? Because the only things we really possess are the things we give back to God anyway.

Do you think Abraham got any sleep that night? I doubt if he did. He stayed up thinking about it, mulling it over in his mind, making a list of the things to take the next day. "I'll need a certain amount of wood. Let's see, where could I get some dry wood. We don't want wood that is green. I need to take fire with me. I need the knife. Oh, the knife had better be sharp. I'd better sharpen the knife." So, in the middle of the night he is sharpening the knife. As he sharpens it, he thinks of what that knife is going to do to his boy. And he thinks of everything. Probably we would get up to the top of the mountain and say, "Lord, I forgot the matches. I can't do it."

No, not Abraham. He took everything he needed and he set off for the forty five mile journey to Mount Moriah. Forty five miles. How long does the Bible say that it took Abraham to go that forty five miles? It took three days. How long would it take you to walk forty five miles? About three days. That's fifteen miles a day. Was Abraham dragging his feet? No, he's not. I don't see that here. Abraham is moving right along to accomplish immediately what God asked him to do. Now, I respect Abraham for that.

Genesis 22:4. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Now, verse 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. Why did he carry those two things? Because they were the most dangerous, and h wanted to protect his son until the time that he could kill him.

It sounds like a farmer, doesn't it. He's taking good care of that cow, calling the vet if the cow gets sick, taking the utmost care of it and when it comes time for the slaughterhouse. "Okay, go ahead."

Isaac is carrying the wood and Abraham is carrying the knife and the fire to protect his young son. Isaac carried the sticks.

Genesis 22:7. I like the way the King James puts it here. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, "My father:" and he said, "Here am I, my son." Those same three words that he said to God. "Here am I." In other words, Abraham is just as willing to do for his son as he is willing to do for God. What a relationship he and his son have! Isn't that wonderful? They've got a great relationship and the boy calls him "My father." And Abraham calls him "My son." That's special. This is an endearing relationship here.

Genesis 22:7b. And he (Isaac) said, "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"

Verse 8. And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:" so they went both of them together. You see, for years Abraham had been learning to trust. And we see now the trust that he had in God. Do you see a picture in Genesis 22 of Abraham being worried, fretting, over this? I don't see that. This antique patriarch fully trusted in God. He had confidence in God.

Now, we avoided reading verse 5 for a purpose. Now, let's go back to verse 5, because verse 5 opens a window. There's a little word in verse 5 that opens a brand new window by which you can view God and Abraham more clearly. And I want us to go back to verse 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." Do you see that word? Did you catch it? "We." "The boy and I will go over yonder, we will worship God and WE will come back, alive. I'm not going to be carrying a corpse here. We are going to come back. We're going to come back. The two of us will come back here."

You see, Abraham was no dummy. Abraham had known God for a hundred years. When you've know somebody that long you know their ways. And I think he suspected that God was testing him. He didn't know for sure. He didn't know the outcome. He didn't know what God would do. But Hebrews tells us what he thought. Come over here to Hebrews 11:17-19 you ca easily see there that Abraham was expecting that possibly God would resurrect Isaac. "If I kill him, God is going to resurrect him." That's what it says here in Hebrew 11:17-19.

Or, possibly one of the three scenarios would be: "God will allow me to kill my son and He won't resurrect him. He will just die. And if so, this is going to be bad. He is proving Himself unworthy to be worshipped. And God isn't that way. So that's out. And the only other choice would be choice number three, maybe God, somehow, I don't know how, is going to rescue Isaac from what I am going to do." That's the only three that he could see.

And I see Jesus in this sweet story, don't you? You consider this. Jesus was willingly led as a lamb to the slaughter. That's what happened to Him. Jesus was the only Son of His Father. Can't you see all the parallels here? Just before Jesus died, He and His Father were along with no other human beings around. A lot of similarities. Jesus and Isaac both carried the wood. Jesus and Isaac were both bound to the instrument of death. One by nails, one by ropes. Both were offered on the mount that is there at Jerusalem. The same place. Golgotha and Moriah are right there together. By the way, did you know that Mount Moriah is the second highest mountain in the world. You know the name of the highest mountain in the world: It's called, Mount Calvary.

Come to John 8 in your bible. I think Abraham saw the cross. Here Jesus is speaking, John 8:56 KJV. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad." How did Abraham see it? I think he saw it through the sacrifice of Isaac. It's exactly how he saw it up there on that mountain.

Now, let's go back to Genesis 22:9 and pick up this story. 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. Now, that takes a lot of muscle. Isaac did not resist, but once Abraham's son was all bound with those ropes, he lifted him up and placed him on the altar. That's pretty good for a hundred- year-old man. Verse 10. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. And what happened? Abraham was rewarded. He was rewarded for his faithfulness. Verse 11> But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"

"Here I am," he replied. Did you catch those words? "Here I am." Those same three words. "I'm here Lord, What do You want me to do? I'll do anything You want. Just tell me and I'll finish this forever."

Verse 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, you only son."

Abraham looked up and there in the 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.

Next in verse 15, you can see how God richly blesses Abraham all the way down through verse 18. He says, "I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, as the sands of the seashore your children will be.

Let me ask you three questions: Question number one. When did God perform the miracle for Abraham? At the last second. As the knife was beginning to move, that's when God acted. I have found this is the case in my life. Often you are tested, I am tested right down to the last minute. Have you noticed that? Your checkbook gets down to the last dollar, "How am I ever going to live? I can't pay these bills." You get down to the bottom of the barrel and there's where the answer comes. Right at the last minute. That happened to Abraham. And if you give up on God before the last minute, you miss your blessing.

Question number two. Where did God perform this miracle? Where was it? It was at the place. Three times in Genesis 22 it calls it the PLACE. It doesn't give it any other name. The place. It's sort of a weird thing isn't it. You will only get your miracle at the place where God directs you. And if you're not at that place, you will not get your miracle. It's curious to me that in Luke 23:33, the Bible says of Jesus, When they came to the place...they crucified Him." It's called, the place three or four times. That's the name of it. The placed. And wherever your place is, I don't know, but God knows where your crisis point will be. When your mother dies, when you get the cancer. Whatever place that is, there's where you will be tested and there's where you will get your miracle.

Now, question number three. What did God provide for the miracle? God provided a substitute. A small, little ram was caught in the thicket, in the bushes, and has been there the whole time. Abraham was so concentrating on his problem that he did not see God's answer. Often, we're like that as well. We're so focused, "My wife has cancer. My kids have all these problems. My health is failing. This is happening to me. That is happening." We're so focused on the problem we don't see God's answer. And it's right there. He saw the answer.

Now I want you to change your focus just a little bit. Let's not think about Abraham. Let's think about Isaac. Visualize Isaac for just a second in your mind. There he is. His daddy takes the knife and puts it back in the sheath, unties his son, helps him down off the alter, and Isaac thinks, "Whew! I'm going to be okay." And as those ropes are unwound from his sweaty body, he realizes he's been rescued. I want you to picture that lad as the father then takes that lamb out of the bushes and lays that lamb on the altar where Isaac just got off of. And Isaac is there. You just think of the thoughts that were marching in the circuits of his brain. "That pure little animal is taking my place. That animal is dying the death that I should have died." The sharp steel blade of that knife did come down, and did shed that innocent blood. I imagine the moment that happened I can see tears coming down Isaac's cheeks as he watched the blood of the lamb beginning to flow down the rock of the altar.

It's an amazing experience. He probably thought, "That would have been my blood going down there, dripping on that cold ground. That was destined for me, and it didn't happen. I have been saved by the lamb." And that's how we're saved. In Abraham's day, God provided a lamb. And I want you to know that today in the year 2002 God has provided a Lamb for you. And when Jesus came to the cross, no ram was caught in the thicket for Him. He had to die. He was It. But He died for you. And that Lamb has already died. You didn't get to watch it happen, but you can read about it. And that Lamb died for you! If you accept that Lamb as your Savior, the price has already been paid that covers your sins. Will you do that? If you accept that Lamb you will inherit eternal life. Galatians 3:29 says, If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. How do you get eternal life? You inherit it, because you now are the son of Abraham. You are the daughter of Abraham. And you inherit all the blessings that Abraham was promised which includes the blessings of heaven and the blessings of a great life with God. Do you accept Jesus as your Savior today? We've got to accept Jesus. That's where it's at. He died for you. He is the Lamb that took your place, you Substitute. Give yourself completely to Jesus.

You know, God led Abraham, and God wants to lead you. If you follow His leading, if you don't resist, you will be saved.

Hymn # 537 He Leadeth Me - God led Abraham

Hymn of Praise: #546, The Lord's My Shepherd
Scripture: Genesis 22:1,2
Hymn of Response: #537, He Leadeth Me

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