- Sermon Notes
On the Altar
Abraham is called the father of our faith in the scriptures, and in many ways he is an example of trusting God completely. But he didn’t start out in his relationship with God always being victorious, Abraham grew in his faith. There were times when he failed.
In chapter 22, Abraham is an old man and has walked with God many years, and God is now going to give him the greatest test of his life. God is going to ask him to place on the altar that which meant the most in his life.
There is so much personal application in this study because we all hold onto things and God wants to know if we will truly trust Him in our lives or not. Are we willing to lay them before God and give them to Him with complete trust that He knows what He is doing?
I. Faith Must be Tested
- This is the first time the word ‘test’ is used in the Genesis, but not the first time he has been tested in his faith.
- At this point, God has fulfilled the promise of giving Abraham a son and their house has been filled withed laughter and joy
- But will Abraham’s confidence be in his son, or in God who gave him his son (He who promised is faithful).
A. Give God that which means most
- In order for there to be a test, it has to be about something we care about. Those are the things that we hold onto and refuse to let God have.
Illus – There are several scriptures that forbid the Jews to eat vultures, bats, and a goodly number of insects; this is a test I can pass with flying colors!
- But he tells Abraham to take his only son whom he loves… this is actually the first time the word love is used in the scriptures.
- We will see through this story that God is revealing something about Himself through this test as well.
- This is a story about God giving His own son.
Illus – When the word “love” is first mentioned in the book of Matthew 3:17, “this is my beloved son…” The same is true in Luke, then in John, the first mention is when Jesus said, “God so loved the world…”
Illus – we used to have a place in the front of churches that was referred to as the “altar,”
the place where people would come and pray to receive Christ. That’s where people could lay
down what they had been holding onto.
Ray Boltz wrote:
The service is nearing an end; The choir is singing "Just As I Am" And now as the old song is played People at the altar Are kneeling down to pray Some are finding mercy Forgiveness for their sin Some are fighting battles And they're struggling to win The time has come To give them to the Lord, That's what the altar is for. A father is praying with his son, a mother kneels beside them thanking God they've come. An old man is standing there in tears, giving up a part of him that he's held back for years; Hearts are being broken, lives are being changed, Those who call upon Him will never be the same; The time has come to give in to the Lord, That's what this altar is for.
B. Testing reveals the condition of faith
- We get a sense of Abraham’s response because it says that Abraham rose early in the morning and began to prepare the journey. He saddled his own donkey and split the wood himself, he didn’t leave it for others.
- In other words, he responded immediately. When God is telling us to let go of something, that’s the time to respond immediately. If we hold onto it, that’s when we will find a way of talking ourselves into keeping hold of it.
- There is a time to wait on the Lord, and there is a time to go immediately. Some people go when they should wait and wait when they should go.
- The key is to have discernment of listening to God and rightly discerning what He’s asking us.
App – God reveals areas in our lives where we need to be strengthen and He is preparing us for what He wants to do next in our lives.
Deuteronomy 8:1-5 God is preparing us…
Hebrews 5:13-14, For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
II. Is Anything too Difficult for the Lord?
- Those words must have been ringing in Abraham’s ears. This is what God asked him when Sarah laughed at the thought that she would have a son.
- Abraham had decided that indeed, nothing was too difficult for the Lord. In fact, we know from the book of Hebrews that he believed God would raise him from the dead.
A. Are you willing to trust God?
- That’s really the question of the hour. Abraham was willing to trust God with that which he held most dear.
- It would also appear that Isaac was willing. He was strong enough to carry the wood all the way up the mountain and he certainly could have resisted a man who was probably more than 120 years old. But he was willing to trust his father’s faith in God.
- Willingness to let go is absolutely necessary, but some people insist on holding on.
Illus – When my girls were young we used to play a game where I would make a fist with a quarter or something inside my hand and they would pry my fingers open.
Some people are that way with God, when in reality God wants to help us.
Illus – I remember when my dad got to the point when I needed to run his checkbook for him. I wanted him to want to my help and to give me the checkbook freely.
- The question of willingness is important to God as well.
Illus – When Jesus came to the well of
John 5:1-9 At the pool of
Illus – Some people try to throw obstacles in their own path such as those who ask questions they think catch God in a trap such as, “Can God make a rock so big that even He cannot lift it?” But these things reveal the real issue; unwillingness because of a hard heart.
- Sure we want God in charge when something terrible happens and we become overwhelmed and we’re calling out, “Oh God, Oh God…” but mature faith wants God in charge even in the good times.
- Since God is revealing Himself in this story, it’s helpful to see that God so loved the world that he was willing to give His own son, and Jesus was willing to offer up his life as an offering for our sin; for the joy set before him. Heb 12:2
B. Trusting God is also worship
- Verse 5, Abraham told the two men with them to wait while he and lad went up to worship.
- When we give something to God from our heart, we are certainly worshipping the Lord in it.
- What God desires, though, is that we would willingly give all our lives to Him, not just part.
Luke 10:27, And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind;”
Romans 12:1-2, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Some people have the idea that spending an hour and a half in church on Sunday morning and enduring 45 minutes of bible teaching is itself the sacrifice of worship.
Illus – I remember when we first started the church that we put announcements on KPDQ and said, “We don’t have fancy chairs or nice things, but if God is calling you to be a part, then come.” I was amazed at how many responded to the challenge.
- Later, in what many believe to be the same place where Abraham offered Isaac, David made an altar to the Lord and the owner was willing to give the land to David, but he insisted on paying full price…
II Samuel 24:24, However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.”
C. Trusting God is blessed of God
- Verses 15-18; God spoke again to Abraham and gave him great promises of blessing because of the trust that he had in God.
- When we hold onto things with clenched fist, then we cannot receive what God has in store for us.
- It’s only when we willingly let go of those things and trust God completely, can God then place in our lives that which He knows is best.
- Abraham was given his son back to him and God provided Himself a ram.
- We know that this is a picture of God providing His Son in place of us. His life is given in exchange of our life. But if insist on holding onto to our lives and not offering them to God, then we can’t receive the blessing He has in Christ.
Genesis 22:1-19 NASB