The Big Idea:
This is a powerful story of faith and obedience to God. In Genesis 12, God had promised Abraham & Sarah a son that He would bless the world through. After years of waiting, God provided Isaac. In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham by telling him to take his son and offer him as a burnt sacrifice. Though filled with sadness and grief, Abraham obeyed God's words without hesitation and took Isaac to the mountain. Abraham had complete faith that God would provide a way out and that he would not lose his son. At the moment that Abraham was about to kill Isaac, the angel of the Lord stopped him and said “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, your only son.”
Point 1 - God's Test
In verse 1, we see that this was God testing the faith of Abraham. It is important to understand that God tests our faith to demonstrate his faithfulness and develop our faith. Throughout the Bible we see God’s tests come in many different forms: difficult steps of faith, probing questions, trials & suffering, & persecution. All of these tests are opportunities for us to prove that our faith is real. There are 3 things that God’s tests do in our lives:
God’s Tests Grow Our Faith - God’s tests in our lives are like a refinery. They draw us to a deeper dependence on God and produce perseverance and maturity in our lives. A faith that cannot be tested cannot grow.
God Uses Our Testing For His Glory - Think about how Isaac’s faith would have been affected by the faith of His Father Abraham in this story. There is nothing that impacts others more than our faithfulness during a time of testing.
God’s Tests Reveal Our Hearts - The word “test” means “to prove by trial.” When God tests His children, his purpose is to prove that our faith is real. It’s not that God needs to prove it to himself since He knows all things, but He is proving to us and others that our faith is real. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.
Point 2 - Abraham's Response
Verse 5 tells us that Abraham’s response to the test was worship. The best definition of worship is “seeing God for who He is & responding accordingly.” Think about that. In the hardest situation Abraham had ever faced, he wasn’t focused on himself or the circumstance. His eyes were fixed on God and because of that he responded with worship. His worship was characterized by:
Faith - Hebrews 11:19 brings us into Abraham’s mindset. Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead if he had to sacrifice Him and it was that faith drove his obedience to God. Abraham’s willingness to obey God is directly connected with his trust in God & His promise.
Sacrifice - Abraham was willing to sacrifice the most precious thing in his life. Why? It was because Abraham’s love for God was greater than anything else in His life. We will sacrifice greatly for what we love. This characterized Abraham’s worship.
- Full Surrender -Notice how Abraham responds when God calls his name, “Here I am.” Throughout the Bible, “here I am” is more than words. It is a posture of open-handedness before God. Basically, saying to God “I am your servant, whatever you need me to do, whenever you need me to do it, I am willing.” That is the posture of Abraham’s heart and should be the posture of ours as well.
Point 3 - God's Provision
Abraham named this place “The Lord will Provide.” Anytime we see a place named in the Bible, it is significant. In remembering this story, God wants us to remember that He is a God that Provides. He provided exactly what Abraham needed when he needed it most. Thousands of years later on this same mountain, God would provide the greatest sacrifice of all for us: JESUS. This scene should sound strikingly familiar to the cross of Christ. We see God provide 3 major things for Abraham that foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus:
A Spotless Lamb at the Perfect Time - Jesus is our perfect spotless sacrifice. He is the lamb of God that takes away our sin.
A Divine Exchange on a Holy Mountain - Just like God exchanged the ram for the boy here. God would exchange Jesus and us. Instead of killing us in our sin. He killed his only son on this same mountain. (2 Cor 5:21)
- A Boy Set Free for God’s Purpose - Because of what God did here, the boy Isaac was set free from death. Because of what Christ did for us, we are set free from death and alive to the purposes of God in our lives.
How have you experienced God’s testing in your life?
How have you seen God’s testing result in spiritual growth in your life?
How does Abraham’s response in this story challenge you?
How does this story point us to Jesus?
What is the difference between a test & a temptation?
Questions for personal accountability:
(These don’t have to be discussed openly but leave your group with this.)
Would you say that your life is characterized by faith, sacrifice, & surrender?
What are the things in your life that you aren’t willing to sacrifice & surrender?