Gen. 22:1-8


    1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 2  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."

    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. 4  On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 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." 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. As the two of them went on together, 7  Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" 8  Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.


Did you ever wish you had something great to give God?  Is there something you possess that you think might really please God, something that would demonstrate your love and devotion to Him?  If so, you are like most religious people.  Throughout history men have tried to please or appease God by giving gifts or offering sacrifices.  Some have gone so far as to burn their children in the sacrificial fires hoping to somehow win God's favor.  This is the kind of worship Micah was thinking about when he asked: “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”


"But didn’t God TELL Abraham to kill Isaac," you might ask.  "Isn’t that what God wanted?"  Yes, God said that, but no, Isaac’s death was not what He was after.  God wanted two things from Abraham, the same two things He wants from all of His servants:  TRUST and OBEDIENCE.  You see, God doesn’t need our stuff.  There is nothing that we have that we didn’t receive from God in the first place.  And listen, anything that would come even close to being a worthy gift for the King of the Universe must come from a purer source than our flesh.  


So did God get Abraham’s trust and obedience?  Let’s see . . .


In vs. 2 God said: “take your son . . . and go . . .”  In the very next verse we read: “The next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac . . . he set out for the place God had told him about.”  That is obedience.  God said "go" and Abraham got up and went.  The text says that God “tested” Abraham.  Believe me, it wasn’t a test of Abraham’s ability to saddle a donkey or organize a trip.  It was a test of Abraham’s willingness to obey God, even though God’s instruction was hard to understand.


But the harder part comes at the end of vs. 2 when God tells Abraham to "sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering."  Isaac was the child of promise.  It was through Isaac that God promised to produce many nations and to bless all nations.  Now Abraham’s willingness to TRUST God was being challenged.  Did God really say it, did God really mean it, does this mean that God ISN'T faithful??  But from a heart of faith Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb. . .”   And God did just that.


The lesson for you today is this:  When you are tempted to give something or do something or sacrifice something to God in order to please Him or appease Him – something other than simple obedience or trust – remember that it is a futile and unnecessary effort.  God doesn't need your lamb; He has already provided the perfect lamb, a lamb without spot or blemish, a pure and holy offering, totally acceptable and adequate.  And that Lamb’s name is Jesus.   And He has been offered up.  There is no need now for any sacrifice but praise and thanksgiving.  


--- Pastor Keith Andrews