Sermon 2/22/2015 Lent 1

Genesis 22:1-18 Lent 1

Genesis 22:1-18 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 3 So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to

you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together. 7 Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together. 9 When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” 12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.” 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn,” this is the Lord’s declaration: “Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. 18 And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.”

The Lord Provides
1. The Lord provided a test for Abraham
2. The Lord provided a substitute for Isaac
3. The Lord provided a promise for mankind

Finish this sentence: The worst part about school is . . . Did you say “tests?” Some of you may have said, “homework” or something else, but most of the time, the thing people dislike about school is taking tests. Tests may be fun for the teacher but not the students. Tests bring stress. Tests mean studying and maybe a late night hitting the books. Tests require concentration and thought. Tests are not fun.

Abraham faced a test. After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Notice how God piled up the terms to describe Isaac. “Take your son, your only son, the one you love, Isaac.” God makes very clear what this test is about. Parents who have said good-bye to a grown-up child as he headed off to war, not knowing whether they would ever see him again, or parents who have lost a child to death can imagine somewhat how Abraham must have felt that night.

But this was more than the son he loved. This was the son of promise. This was the one through whom God said he would fulfill all the promises he made to Abraham. God promised that Abraham would have a great number of descendents and they would possess the land of Israel. He promised Abraham that through his offspring all nations would be blessed with the coming of the Savior. God made clear this would all happen through Isaac.

There is something else we should note about this test. English translations leave out a small little word in the Hebrew, a word which means, “Please.” God was not commanding Abraham; he was asking. Abraham had a choice. What would he do? Logic must have screamed at him, “This can’t be right!”

On an emotional level it didn’t make sense. This was Isaac, his son, his only son, the one he loved. How could he sacrifice his only son? It didn’t make sense on an intellectual level either. How could God fulfill his promises if Isaac is dead? How can God give all those promises about Isaac and repeat them several times and then tell Abraham to do such a thing? Not to mention the fact that human sacrifice was never something God wanted. That’s the practice of the heathens around him, not what the holy God would ask for. In so many ways, this didn’t make sense and God wasn’t explaining himself. What must have been going through Abraham’s mind? What would be going through your mind?

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Then add to that a three day journey. God sent him to the region of Moriah. Why? So that he would have time to think about it. Its one thing to agree to something on the spur of the moment but to follow through when you have had time to think about it is another thing. What must have been going through Abraham’s mind? What would be going through your mind?

We see what was going through Abraham’s mind. So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. We hear no hesitation. He just goes. He didn’t ask why. He didn’t question. He just does what God told him.

What was going through Abraham’s mind? On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the
distance.
5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to
worship; then we’ll come back to you.”
Notice the “we”. Abraham was confident that the two of them would be returning somehow, someway. Why? Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” That’s what was going through Abraham’s mind. God will provide. God’s Word is always true. God promised that through Isaac every promise would be fulfilled. Abraham was confident that God would do what he said even in the face of a reality that said otherwise.

Abraham’s story isn’t so much a story about a man sacrificing his child, as it is about a man risking everything for his belief in God. What this sacrifice came down to was the question whether or not Abraham believed God was big enough to carry out the plan, even if Abraham destroyed the physical sign of the promise. The minute that Abraham showed that he trusted God to carry out the plan even without Isaac, he showed that he feared and trusted God.

Instead of arguing with God about it, instead of claiming it didn’t make sense, Abraham simply believed that God could do what he said and that he would do what he promised. In his mind, it wasn’t his problem; it was God’s problem. He didn’t need an explanation; he just needed to trust God. The Lord will provide.

It still boggles the mind, doesn’t it, that any father could take up a knife and be willing to sacrifice his son. Even without the promises connected to Isaac, could you do that with your child? Could any father do that? One did. God the Father did. He was asking of Abraham what he himself was willing to do. God the Father would willingly offer his one and only Son, whom he loves, as the sacrifice for the sins of the world.

The Lord will provide, Abraham said. And the Lord did provide. Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. God provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac and he provided a substitute for us, too. John the Baptist said it: “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1)

Someone once said, “The real test of love is in the sacrifice it is willing to make.” God’s love went to the limit. Like Abraham, he took his Son – his only Son – whom he loved more dearly than Abraham could ever love Isaac, and put him on the wooden altar shaped into a cross. There, unlike Abraham, he did not stop but plunged the soldier’s spear into
the heart of his son. All this he did, not because he did not love his Son, but because he loved us. His love for us would not let us perish in the hell we deserved. His love for us compelled him to give the best he had. (Adapted from Richard Lauersdorf) The Lord provided a ram for Isaac and a Savior for us.

The Lord will provide. So quickly we take it for granted – like the heart which keeps on beating in our chest, the spouse who keeps on working at our side, the job we hold and the ability to do it. Sure, we say such things are important, and then we forget about them and fail to treasure them. Perhaps we do this even more when it comes to the salvation God has prepared for us with the sacrifice of his Son.

“For you are dust, and you will return to dust,” (Genesis 3:19) God told Adam. But then he gave his Son to die for dust. Do you pay attention to dust? How could God sacrifice his Son for dust? How could he sacrifice his Son for me? How could he take all my sins, even those staggering ones that raise their ugly memories to scar my conscience? How could he then reach down from heaven through his Word and sacrament and bring me faith in his Son? How could that Son paint my name on a door in the Father’s house and promise to come again and take me there? I can’t explain it; only believe it. God doesn’t give explanations, just promises.

The Lord will provide. He provided a Savior. Will he stop there? God promises to make all things work for our good. Do we trust God to provide even when the reality we face says the opposite? Can we trust that even when the doctor says the C word, when you have been robbed of the joy of a child, when school stinks and the one you thought was the one has found someone else? Will we trust when jobs are lost, income dwindles, pain comes and body parts fail?

The Lord will provide. Will we trust when he asks us to open our wallets and share what we have for the good of others? Do we trust God’s promise or do we argue it away as just the church asking for money again. Today we are

Moving the Legacy Forward, asking all of us to trust God’s promises and prayerfully consider how you can show a faith like Abraham’s.

The Lord will provide. We don’t need him to explain how. We just need to trust his promise. The Lord will provide.