Today we examine the great testing of Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22. This seemingly unthinkable story from the life of Abraham reveals the merciful heart of God and offers a veiled glimpse of the promised future salvation—a redeeming sacrifice.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us today. We are coming near the end of our study of the life of Abraham—“Strength for the Journey.” Today we come to a remarkable passage of Scripture. It’s one that I’m sure that you have read and you’ve pondered and you have wondered about. It has to do with Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. What a story this is. Søren Kierkegaard, who was a Danish philosopher really struggled with this and talked about the “absurdity of obedience”—the fact that Abraham was actually willing to go through with this, evidently. I need to say that if you ever hear a voice that tells you to kill one of your children, I can assure you that it is the voice of the devil and not the voice of God. In Abraham’s situation it was a little bit different. First of all, child-sacrifice was accepted among the pagans. Also the ten commandments had not yet been given. God had not yet told them “do no murder,” and furthermore, God had something else in mind, namely that Isaac’s life would not be taken.
But what a story this is. If you have a bible let’s just walk through it quickly and then we’re going to continue this story next time. But the greatest test that one could ever have, came to Abraham. It says in verse one, “after these things, God tested Abraham and said, ‘Abraham take your son—your son, Isaac, whom you love.’” Abraham might have said, “wait a moment, God, I’ve got two sons. Ishmael, in fact, is the oldest.” God says, “No. I want Isaac, the one that you love.” It was as if God was taking a knife into Abraham’s heart and giving it a half turn. Take that son and go to Mount Moriah and offer him there for a sacrifice. The greatest test—it would test the love that Abraham had for God. Who do I love more? Do I love my son who has warmed his way into my heart or do I love God more?
It was also a test of great trust. After all, Isaac was the one who was going to pass on the seed and God had promised Abraham that he would have descendants and it all came down here to Isaac. But of course we have in this passage of Scripture, as you know, the greatest obedience. It actually says, I think it’s in verse three, “and Abraham rose early in the morning.” Do you think he told Sarah where he was going? I doubt it. But he rose early in the morning. He took two young men…with him. They had a donkey for the wood and Isaac. Now if you know your geography, you know that he’s to sacrifice on Mount Moriah, which is where the Dome of the Rock is today in Jerusalem, so they had about a three-day journey. What do you think they talked about? Well, of course, we don’t know, but Abraham has in his heart this terrible secret as to what is going to happen. They come to the base of the mountain and Abraham says to the young men, “you stay here and the boy and I will go yonder and worship.” “Yonder and worship.” So the two go up the mountain together. “You stay here with the donkey,” says Abraham to the two young lads who are with them, “and we will go and worship and come again to you.” “Come again to you.” He knows what is in his heart. He’s heard God correctly. And they are now going to the top of the mountain and Abraham takes the wood and puts it on Isaac, but Abraham takes the knife and the fire. Abraham is the one who is going to plan to kill his son and Isaac, carrying the wood, is a picture of Jesus carrying His cross.
I have much more to say about this and we’ll certainly pick it up next time, but I do want to ask you this question: who killed Jesus? Oh, we say, well, you know it was, of course, the Pharisees. It was Herod. It was pilot. Yeah, they all worked together but in the end it was God who had planned the death of Christ. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him. Abraham is going to be a picture of that…as we discuss that next time, we’ll understand that more clearly. But for today I want to ask you a question. How much are you willing to do for God and what sacrifices are you willing to make? Has something captured your heart that is more important than God? Abraham passed this test and I hope that we will pass it as well. Thanks so much for joining us today. You go with God. You worship Him. And I’ll see you right here next time.