Our study of Genesis this week takes us to Genesis 22, where God tells Abraham to go to Mount Moriah, and sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. Many people can't get beyond the cruelty of God's command, asking Abraham to sacrifice his child, the child of the promise made to him, that he would become the father of a great nation. It is a cruel command and I can't imagine what's going on in Abraham's heart and mind as he gathers up all the things needed to sacrifice his son and then had to think about what he was doing on the three day journey to Mount Moriah. But when we dig a little deeper, there are three reasons for God's command.
First, God was testing the faith of Abraham. Most people, no matter how much faith they have, if they received a message from God to sacrifice their own child, would not be willing to do what God commanded. God had to see if Abraham had enough faith to be the father of the Israelite nation. By faithfully following God, Abraham would become an example of a man of faith for all generations. God tests our faith by asking us to make sacrifices for him. It may be the sacrifice of giving our tithe (10% of our income) or beyond. It may be a call to sacrifice time and energy to serve him. When God calls, will we respond in faith to do whatever he asks?
Second, God wants to teach Abraham about grace. Grace is God's undeserved gift for our lives. God has no intention of allowing Abraham to harm Isaac. When they get to the place for the sacrifice, and everything is ready, God stops Abram from killing his son, and provides a lamb (ram) for the sacrifice. God provides a way of salvation for all of us, to save us from death and punishment for our sins, if we believe in him. As God spared Isaac, God will spare us the punishment we deserve.
Third, God uses this event to point to the ultimate working of his plan of salvation. About 2,000 years later God will have his only Son, Jesus Christ, walk up Mount Calvary, just a stone's throw from Mount Moriah, to die on a cross for the sins of the world. John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to his followers by saying, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). What Abraham prepared to do to his son, is exactly what God did to his Son to save us.
This Sunday in worship we'll take a closer look at God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son, reflect on the lessons we can learn from this story, and remember Jesus who was the sacrifice for all time, for people everywhere, who will put their faith in him. I hope you can worship with us to discover the depth of God's grace and the love he has for you. We meet for worship on Sundays in Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.