So tomorrow I’m going to lead a Bible Study for a college ministry group called “Chi Alpha.” We’ll be finishing a five-week look at Abraham, and I’ll be focusing on Genesis 22:1-19. I’m pretty excited about this chapter because there are so many awesome things written that are pivotal to our Christian walk.
For starters, in verse 2, God says “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom you love, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you.” This sounds very similar to when God first called Abraham in Genesis 12:1, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show you.’” So basically, Abraham finally finishes His journey with God in chapter 21 with the birth of Isaac, the promised child; and in chapter 22, God is already starting him on a new journey. [Have you ever had a time where you put a lot of work and effort into something, and then as soon as your done, something else pops up immediately and you barely get a break?] God is often just like that in His dealings in our lives; He never stops working with us. There is always more. He takes us from “faith to faith” (Rom 1:17). And what did Abraham do when God called him the first time? He obeyed. And what did he do when God called him the second time? We’re about to find out.
As we continue in the chapter, we come to verse 5, and Abraham says to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” This is the first time in the Bible where the word “worship” is used. And what is Abraham describing as worship in this verse? A sacrifice. In 2 Samuel 24, King David is buying a field in order to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. The seller tells David he will give him the field free of charge and David responds in verse 24, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” Worship involves us offering our lives up to God. If what we offer to God doesn’t cost us anything, its not worship. [Has anyone ever had someone repackage a gift and give it to you, or buy something super cheap and give it to you? not ironically or humorously, but out of half-hearted obligation. How valuable is that gift to you] Its the same way with God. He gave everything for us. He wants us to give Him the things that matter to us. And as we are about to see, He really just wants us to give Him what He has given us.
As we continue reading, Abraham is about to kill Isaac on the alter and God tells him to stop. As a side note here, what if Abraham had taken the directive from God to kill Isaac and then just rushed off and did it on His own, without staying connected to God along the way? This is why its important to stay in connection with God even after He gives you a directive. Don’t try to do it through yourself, or you’ll end up killing the promise instead of passing the test.
In verse 13, Abraham looks up and “behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” Earlier in the story, Isaac had asked his father where the burnt offering was, and Abraham replied, “My Son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” This is a picture of Christ providing a lamb as an offering for the sins of the world, so that we would not have to bear the punishment for our own sins.
In verses 16-18, God reiterates His promise to Abraham, “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
Remember early on in Abraham’s journey, he “believed God, and it was reputed to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6). Abraham was not righteous. We have seen this over the last few weeks. He pimped out his wife to Pharaoh (Gen 12). He sought to fulfill God’s promise through making babies with the servant girl instead of doing it God’s way (Gen 16). But because of Abraham’s faith in God, God looked at him as righteous. This is a foreshadowing of our own justification through Jesus’ death. When we believe on Jesus, God calls us sinless and righteous and looks at us that way. But if it ended there, Christianity would be the biggest scam this world has ever seen. Because calling a caterpillar a “butterfly” is not correct unless that caterpillar at some point actually turns into a butterfly. In the same way, God didn’t call Abraham righteous and leave it at that, He worked in Abraham’s life on a daily basis, despite Abraham’s mistakes, until Abraham was so in love with God that He was willing to offer His only son. God had actually completed a work in Abraham’s life and developed righteousness in him, so that He was no longer simply calling Abraham “righteous,” but now Abraham actually was righteous. And God wants to do the same thing in our life, He wants to sanctify ever part of us, making us into His likeness and image.
[So what’s our part to play?] Well if we look at Abraham’s life we see two things: he obeyed and he worshiped. When God told Abraham to go, he went. And as he went, he sacrificed his life and the things that mattered, living a lifestyle of worship. And as he did his part by worshiping and obeying, God was faithful to sanctify him and make him a righteous man of God, through whom all the nations of the world have been blessed. If we will obey and live a life of worship, God will continue to mold us, despite our mistakes, into His likeness and image, and use each of us to impact this world for His glory.