Genesis 22:1-24

We now come to the greatest test that Abraham would ever face in his life. This test came as God commanded him to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt offering on a mountain that He would show him. To obey this command of God was so difficult for Abraham because he was being asked to offer up the promised child that he loved with all his heart, and for whom he had waited twenty-five years to receive. But that was exactly what God was now asking him to do. Scripture records, Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you’” (Gen. 22:1-2)

Would God really test Abraham in this manner?  Vs. 1-2

This is one of the most asked questions as people read this account in the Bible. How would you answer this question? As you study the history of the people of the land of Canaan in which he lived, you see that they offered up their children on a regular basis as sacrifices to the gods of Baal and Molech, which were the gods of the Ammonites and Canaanites. So, the request was not something unheard of in Abraham’s day. The practice of child sacrifice was also practiced by the Druids in Europe, and the ancient Aztecs and Incas in Central and South America. But the God of the Bible, Yahweh, had never asked any such thing from anyone before this time. In addition, during the giving of the Law in Jewish history, God declared His absolute hatred of child sacrifice and commanded His people to reject it (Lev. 20:2-5). Therefore, this would have been an extremely difficult test for Abraham to obey, but he did obey God right up to the point of taking his son’s life. God obviously never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son, because He stopped him from doing so, and even provided a ram for Abraham to offer up instead of his son (Gen. 22:13). Also in verse 1, Scripture makes it absolutely clear that God was testing His servant, and that was all! But the problem for Abraham was he did not know that this command was only a test. The point of the test would be if Abraham would obey God and offer up the most important person in his life, his only son that he loved with all his heart. Abraham proved by his actions that he would obey God to the fullest extent of His command. But always remember, this was only a test, because God never intended to have Abraham kill his son, and stopped him from doing so at the last moment, which proves this fact.

Does God test your faith and obedience?

Yes, He does! However, there are some Bible teachers today who declare that God doesn’t ever test you, which is completely contrary to the clearly stated declarations of Scripture. This is the first mention of testing in the Bible, which is why this account is so important to understanding God’s purpose when He tests us. But it is clear what God’s intent was, because the text declares, “God tested Abraham” (Gen. 22:1). This statement cannot be any clearer! God also tested the Children of Israel many times after they came out of Egypt. He tested them with a lack of provision when they came to the bitter waters of Marah (Ex. 15:25). God also tested His people with the abundance of provision when He rained manna from heaven (Ex. 16:4). Likewise, Jesus tested His disciples many times. One example was over Philip’s decision-making concerning where he would get bread to feed the people. Would he turn to God for help, or would he look to his own resources (John 6:5-6)? These are all very common tests that God allows to try our hearts and our faith.

What is the ultimate purpose for God’s testing of His people?

Each time God allows a trial into your life He is testing you with a very specific reason and purpose in mind. His general purpose for all His tests is to cause you to grow and mature through that test. He doesn’t want you to fail, but to grow into a deeper faith and obedience toward Him. James explained this truth when he declared, My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5). When God tests you, it is always to produce patience within your heart toward Him and the circumstance of the problem. The word patience is a Greek word that means steadfastness, endurance, or perseverance. This is the perfect work that He is laboring to accomplish in each of our lives. The Lord is seeking to establish our feet on solid ground, so we are fixed and strengthened to withstand greater tests that will come into our lives. This strengthening is only received as we trust Him in the midst of the trial.

As you study the life of Abraham, it is clear that he passed several tests in his life, and he failed other tests. God tested Abraham with the command to leave his homeland and to go to a land that He would show him. He passed this test by trusting and obeying God’s command to leave his home. But Abraham partially failed the same test, because he didn’t leave his father and nephew Lot, but brought them with him on his journey (Gen. 12). God wanted Abraham to come alone and follow Him. Abraham passed the test of strife with Lot and finally separated from him after entering the land (Gen. 13). Abraham passed the test of courage by going to war with the five kings from the east and rescuing his family members from certain peril (Gen. 14). However, Abraham failed the test of faith and patience when he took Hagar as his wife to try and fulfill the promise that God had made to him of giving him a child (Gen. 16). Abraham also twice failed the test of fear concerning his lying about Sarah being his sister, instead of acknowledging that she was his wife (Gen. 12 and 20). But Abraham finally passed his most important test, and was persuaded to believe God for the child Isaac.

One of the interesting truths about tests is that if you fail a test, God will many times send you the same test again, just as He did with Abraham’s fear of being put to death because of Sarah. In the New Testament, you also see the disciples were tested at least two times over the same issue of how they were going to feed the people with bread (Matt. 14:15-21; Matt. 15:32-39). They failed both of these tests. Likewise, the disciples were tested in their faith several times with storms on the Sea of Galilee, which they also failed (Matt. 8:23-27; Matt. 14:22-33). They were also tested several times with the testimony of others that Jesus was alive after His resurrection (Luke 24:11; Mark 16:11; Mark 16:12-13; Mark 16:14). These examples reveal that the Lord tests you again and again over the same issues, hoping that you will handle these tests differently.

In addition, God is very patient with us, so He waits until we are persuaded to believe, which is why He presents us with the same tests again and again. Abraham had to wait 25 years for the promised child. So, if you have been waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled, trust Him today. Trust Him, and not your own resources. Obey what God has commanded you to do even if you don’t understand how the situation is going to work out. The important point is that God wants you to succeed in your tests, so you can grow and mature. So, from these examples that I have just referred to, I’m reasonably sure that if you fail a test, you should assume that you will get to go through that test again. Even if you succeed in your test, God may decide to give you the same test again, just so you can develop and deepen your faith in that same area. But God’s ultimate desire is that you always mature and develop in your faith and obedience.

If you are in the midst of a trial and testing right now, be assured, God will never test you beyond what you are able to handle. Paul gave us this assurance when he wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Oh, how we need to take heed to the wisdom in this verse! First, Paul is declaring that your trials are common to all other believers. Therefore, you are not the only person who struggles with this trial. Your battles are not some special unique problems that no one else has ever struggled with. No, they are common to all men. So, when you talk to someone who says to you, “Well, you just don’t know what I’m going through.” That’s not true. That is a lie that this person is believing to be true. I may not have experienced the exact same circumstances that someone else has, but I have struggled with the same issues, because all our trials are common to man. Second, God is so faithful to each and every one of us, because He knows every hair on our head, every thought that we think, and every need within our hearts. Therefore, He will not test you above what you are able to handle. Third, He will always provide a way of escape that we might be able to bear the trial. That way of escape may be a solution to the trial, a way around the trial, or a way through the trial. Just remember that He is always faithful to help you through whatever you are experiencing today!

Abraham’s test. Vs. 3-14

“So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’ So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided’” (Gen. 22:3-14)

Why did God test Abraham concerning his only son?

One important question that you must consider is why would God ask this specific request from Abraham? Was God just being mean to ask Abraham to give up the child that he had hoped to receive for the past twenty-five years? Was there something God specifically wanted to test within Abraham’s heart? Yes, I believe the Lord had a very specific plan in mind, because God never tests us without there being a perfect work He wants to accomplish. If you read Genesis 22:2, God said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Note that God was asking Abraham to take his only son that he loved, and offer him up. This is the first mention of the word love in the Bible. This meant that this test was to be the defining act of love. True love must always be sacrificial. Abraham was to learn through this test what it meant to sacrificially love God, and what that love would cost him. The cost would be the dearest thing to his heart, his own son. Remember, it is nothing to sacrifice to God what is unimportant to you, or what is from your excess resources. But, to sacrifice something that you love and care about, that is a real sacrifice. This sacrifice would bring Abraham to a place of total surrender to God. It would require all that he had within him to give up what he held dearest to his heart. God was asking Abraham to let go of the promise that had been given to him so long ago. This is the difference between holding onto a promise, versus letting go of the promise. You see, both are incredible tests of faith. The Lord was dealing with Abraham in both directions. He had been tested to see if he would believe God’s promise for over 25 years. Now he was being asked to let go of the promise, and totally surrender his hopes and desires to God. This is a key to why God was asking Abraham to offer up the person he loved most. Jesus asks each of His disciples to do the same. He told His disciples, He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:37-39). This is also the meaning a passage of Scripture that many don’t understand. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). The word hate seems to many who read this command to be too harsh a word to use, but according to AT Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, he declared this word hate to be an exaggerated contrast, much like hyperbole. Many Greek scholars say the use of the word hate in this context simply means to love less. The important point is that Jesus is equating loving someone else more than you love Him, as what hinders you from taking up your cross to follow Him. Remember that Jesus was only concerned about one issue after Peter’s denial of Him. This is why He asked him, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17). Therefore, the test for Abraham was, do you love me more than your only son, whom you love dearly with all your heart? For each of us the question is the same. Do we love Him more that anyone or anything in this world?

This surrender and love for God is another of the fundamental purposes that God intends for every test He allows in your life. Will you surrender and offer up yourself to Him? Will you surrender to the point of obedience to Him, and will you make this sacrifice to Him out of love? Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Obedience must always come from a heart of love for our Savior. Paul also commanded us, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). God doesn’t want a dead animal on the altar; He wants a living sacrifice offered up each day to Him. He wants you as a living servant offered up to Him, because you love Him. If you ever want to see the perfect will of God in your life, then allow your mind to be renewed and transformed, so you can understand that this is the ultimate purpose God has for you. Because you love Him, surrender yourself to Him. Offer yourself up to Him right now!

Another purpose for this test.

In addition to this test revealing Abraham’s love and surrender to God, is that his action of offering his son was also prophetic of our heavenly Father’s love that would sacrifice His only begotten Son on the cross. How can I be sure of this statement? You must understand that many accounts in Scripture are not only documenting historical events, but they are also prophetic of some future event. Paul explained this truth when he wrote his doxology to the church at Rome. He said, Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith-- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Rom. 16:25-27). Note Paul’s terminology when he writes, “The prophetic Scriptures!” The Bible is filled with accounts of historic events that are also prophetic. The account of Abraham offering up Isaac is one of them. If people don’t understand this fact, they will miss one of the most powerful truths that confirm that the Bible is the Word of God. Remember when Jesus said of His own life, that His death and resurrection were prophetically revealed in the story of Jonah. He told His disciples, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40). As Jesus used the book of Jonah to show its prophetic significance in regards to His life, so you also should understand the same with Abraham’s life. Remember also that Abraham’s two sons, one from a bondwoman and one from a free-born, illustrate the two covenants (Gal. 4:22-26).

The prophetic significance of this offering by Abraham is very hard to miss when you understand this truth about the Scriptures, and then you read the words, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there.” This phrase, “your son, your only son.” is repeated three times in this chapter for emphasis (Vs. 2, 12, 16). Then when you read in the New Testament, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” the point comes home to your heart (John 3:16). As Abraham offered up his only son, so the Father offered up His only Son to redeem all mankind on this same mountain 1,800 years later.

Isaac’s question to His father.

As Abraham walks toward the place where he will offer his only son, in his mind Isaac is already dead. For three days, which is the time it takes to walk from Beersheba to Mount Moriah and the city of Jerusalem, Isaac is as good as dead to Abraham. But he presses on in his trek to Mount Moriah. When they arrive at the place of sacrifice, Isaac asked, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together” (Gen. 22:7-8). Now you can take this response by Abraham one of two ways. One way to understand this statement would be that Abraham was believing God to provide a sacrificial lamb somewhere, which God did provide with the ram caught in the thicket. The second way to take this passage was he was speaking prophetically without knowing that God would provide Himself as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Is it possible that Abraham could have been speaking prophetically at this moment and not know it? Yes, absolutely! And yes, he was of course speaking the actual need for a sacrifice for the offering.

Why do I believe Abraham was speaking prophetically? Remember as Jesus was coming to the end of His ministry here on earth, that the religious leaders of that day were in a quandary of what to do with Jesus? Note what the high priest does in these verses. Scripture records, Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.’ And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’ Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death” (John 11:47-53). Therefore, if a non-believer like Caiaphas could unknowingly prophesy that Jesus was to die for the nation, how much more could a man of faith unknowingly prophesy about what God would do in the future? Remember that the prophets in the Old Testament did the same. Peter wrote, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:10-12). Therefore, because of these passages I believe that Abraham was speaking both of God’s provision of a sacrifice, and was prophesying that one day God would provide Himself as the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Why would Abraham actually go through with this sacrifice?

We have the answer to this question given to us in Scripture. Why would Abraham obey God and actually put his son on the altar? He obviously did not know that God would stop him at the last minute before he actually killed Isaac. The book of Hebrews explained Abraham’s reasoning when it declared, By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Heb. 11:17-19). This entire test for Abraham was passed because he trusted that God was able to even raise his son from the dead. This proves that Abraham’s faith had grown to such an extent, after the birth of Isaac to two old people long past their child-bearing years, that he believed God could do anything. But notice that Scripture declared that all this was done figuratively. This word figurative is the same word translated parable in the New Testament. This means that what took place on Mount Moriah with Abraham and Isaac was a figurative illustration. This is why we can be absolutely sure that Abraham was speaking prophetically of what God intended to do with the future sacrifice of the Son of God on this very same mountain.  

Therefore, after three days Isaac was figuratively raised to life again. It is no coincidence that it was a three-day journey from Beersheba to Mount Moriah, where the sacrifice would take place. Mount Moriah is the same mountain upon which present-day Jerusalem sits today (Vs. 4). North of the city is the highest point of Mount Moriah, and this is where Golgotha is, where Jesus was crucified. This site is outside the city gates, and the face of the skull can still be seen today where the mountain has been cut away. Crucifixion was always done outside of the city walls on the road so all who passed by could receive the warning that no one should rebel against the Roman government. Let me show you some pictures of the topography of this land so you can get a visual perspective.

Below is the top of Mount Moriah which is just north of the Damascus Gate in the old city of Jerusalem.

 Gen.jpg

This is a picture of Golgotha (the place of the skull), looking north from the city walls. This part of the mountain was cut away in 66 BC to better fortify the city.

In the following picture you can also see where the mountain has been cut away, and the wall of Jerusalem has been built on top of it, proving that at one time this was one continuous moutain. This second picture is looking directly south from Golgotha.

City_Wall_Pic_2.jpg 

This third picture was taken in the late 1800s looking from the city wall of Jerusalem north to the highest point of Golgotha. The crucifixion most likely took place on this road directly in front of the place of the skull seen in the rock face beyond.

Golgotha_Pic_3.jpg

God stops Abraham.  Vs. 9-14

“Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided’” (Genesis 22:9-14).

Can you even imagine the emotions and possibly the conversation that must have occurred at the moment that Abraham bound his son and laid him on the altar? I believe this must have been one of the most difficult moments for both of them in their entire lives. Remember, they had no knowledge of what God had planned, or what His purpose was in the sacrifice of Isaac. But the point we must never forget is that Abraham obeyed God’s voice in every detail. He obeyed by faith when he was tested by God, leaving each of us an example that we should also follow Him fully when He tests us. When we trust Him during these tests, God will provide for us just as He did for Abraham. From this test with Isaac, Abraham understood from this day forward that God was his provider forevermore. This is why Abraham, “Called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided.” Abraham had seen the Lord provide for him and his family throughout his life, from leaving his home for a new land, enabling him to recover his nephew Lot when he was taken captive, enabling Sarah to conceive a child, and now providing the ram for the sacrifice instead of his son. God had made a major impression upon Abraham that had convinced him that God was his ultimate provider. This persuasion only comes from trusting God in the midst of our tests; then we will see Him direct and provide for us. Remember, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Therefore, if you are in the midst of a test right now, trust Him, and He will guide and provide for you as well.

Now, we can’t leave this section of Scripture without again mentioning the prophetic significance of this statement that Abraham made at that moment. He called the name of the place where this sacrifice occurred, “The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided.” This statement reveals a clear future element to this mount. Abraham called the place Jehovah Jirah meaning the LORD will provide. This is interpreted to mean that, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” These two statements definitely reveal that Abraham was prophesying that something very important will surely be provided in this same mountain sometime in the future. It is no coincidence that on this same mountain Solomon would build the first temple 800 years later (2 Chron. 3:1). Then after more than a thousand years, the ultimate sacrifice of the Son of God would be made on the highest part of Mt. Moriah outside the city of Jerusalem (John 19:17-18). Are all these facts just a coincidence? I don’t think so! God has no coincidences, because He has sovereign control over all things, and as the Scripture stated, God rules in the affairs of men (Dan. 4:17). Therefore, if this is the place where Jesus was crucified, then the LORD did, “In the Mount” provide the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world (Matt. 27:33). Isn’t that amazing? I love the fact that God has proven His character as the Faithful One, who has provided for us in our most important need, the opportunity to receive the forgiveness of sins. So be sure that you come to Him daily, ask for, and receive the forgiveness of your sins!

God’s response from heaven.  Vs. 15-19

Scripture now records God speaking to Abraham out of heaven after he has obeyed His command concerning Isaac. We are told, “Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son-- blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’ So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba” (Gen. 22:15-19).

One of the fundamental keys to understanding this entire chapter is this little phrase, “Because you have obeyed my voice.” This was the test that Abraham had passed. I have already referred to the importance of faith in the midst of your tests, but obedience to the voice of God is the proof that you do believe you have heard His voice, and are willing to act on this faith. Remember the Scripture declared, “By faith Abraham obeyed” (Heb. 11:8). Also, “By faith Abraham… offered up Isaac” (Heb. 11:17). Abraham did the things that he was commanded to do, because he heard God’s voice and believed, and then he obeyed. These are two critical issues for your faith. But, how well do you hear His voice? I implore you to ask God to help you cultivate an ear to hear His voice. Then will you will obey His voice? This is why Jesus taught His disciples, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Notice that Jesus places these two truths together. If you hear His voice, then you must obey His voice, if you want to follow Him. Here are two studies I did on this topic that might help you learn how to hear and obey.

Hearing His Voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ1asFJ9O-k&t=713s

Obeying His voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6LtZLjuTwM

Consider now more fully the concept of obedience. The importance of obedience for our Christian life is essential for growth. However, much preaching today centers around grace, mercy, and forgiveness, as it should, but the topic of obedience is often lacking in these same sermons. This balance is very important to keep in your personal life if you desire to truly grow in Christ. God told His people in the Old Testament, “‘If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isa. 1:19-20). In the New Testament this same message was also given to the disciples, when Jesus rebuked his followers by asking them a very searching question. He asked, But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)? Jesus expected His disciples to obey and do what He commanded them to do. If they had truly heard what He had said, that they would then obey Him. Obedience is therefore what it means to have Jesus as Lord of your life.

Jesus also explained to His disciples another reason obedience was essential for them. He told them that they could not truly grow and be His followers without hearing and doing what He said. He declared this fact to His disciples when He said, “‘If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ Then He said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given’” (Mark 4:23-24). Note that Jesus began with the truth that if you truly have ears to hear Him, then you should truly listen to Him, which implies a heeding and obeying of what you hear. Then Jesus directly promised them that if they did hear, and used the truth that they had heard, more would be given to them. He declared this fact using a common proverbial expression that simply meant they must take action over what they heard, or they would not be given anything more (Luke 6:38; Matt. 13:12). If you are a parent, I’m sure that you have said these very words to your children, when they have come asking you for help. But, when they haven’t done what you have already told them to do, what do you usually say to them? “Go and do what I have already told you to do!” God does the same thing with each of us. This is a fundamental aspect to growth and maturity in life, and especially in your Christian life.

Let me give you an example of how God will teach you this lesson. Several years ago, our church did an outreach to the community in our local park. Everyone had worked all morning setting up, then we did the outreach, and finally we had to tear everything down and take all the equipment back to the church and put it away. Everyone was exhausted when we finished, but we were all thoroughly blessed as well. I then began driving home, and I saw a man on the side of the road who was in deep destress with his hands over his face sitting on the curb. So, I did what any Christian would do, I prayed, “Lord, please send someone to help this man.” I continued driving about another two blocks and God spoke to me so clearly, “Why don’t you help him? I responded in my heart, “Okay, Lord, I hear You.” So, I turned around and drove back only to find that someone else had already stopped to help him. This man was on the phone calling 911, so I asked him if I could help, and he said, “Thanks, but I’ve got this.” As I drove away, I said a short prayer, “Okay Lord, so why did you tell me to go back there?” Then a simple thought went through my mind, “This was a test to see if you will listen to Me and obey even when you are exhausted.” I will never forget that lesson that day. So, always remember that God is speaking to us throughout the day, but are we listening, and will we obey Him when He does speak? If we listen to Him and obey the assignments He gives us, then He will give us more. If He teaches you a truth from His Word, will you apply it to your life? This might be the reason some believers tell me that God doesn’t speak to them anymore. So, will you hear His voice and call that person you haven’t seen at church in a while? Or, will you go over to that person who you see sitting by themselves each Sunday at church? Why is it that you have remembered this person who hasn’t been at church? Is this the voice of God speaking to you to reach out? Why have you noticed that person sitting by themselves in church? Is this the Lord speaking to you? These same scenarios have happened to me many times. If you desire to grow as a man or woman of faith, then you must hear and obey His voice just as Abraham did. 

God’s Promise to Abraham.  Vs. 15-19

After Abraham passed this most difficult test and obeyed God’s voice, we read, “Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son-- blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba” (Gen. 22:15-19).

What was the result of Abraham’s obedience to God’s command, and passing this incredibly difficult test? God promised awesome blessings upon him and his descendants. He promised to make Abraham’s descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the seashore. Then most of all, God promised Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

God restates the same promises to Abraham that He has made to him before, but now He adds one more that is very important. He declared, “In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” What does God mean by this promise? This promise meant that God’s blessing was intended for more than just Abraham’s descendants, because He was declaring that all nations will be blessed through Abraham. The word nations in this promise is the Hebrew word goy, which is translated Gentiles scores of times in the Old Testament. So, Abraham was going to bless all Gentile nations too. You must see the difference between God’s use of the word descendants and in verse 17, when He declared, “Your descendants shall possess the gate of your enemy,” and the word seed used in verse 18. Why does He change the wording? God wanted to differentiate between the many descendants of Abraham, and one descendant of Abraham. This is why God used the singular word seed. This means that God is referring to a singular person. Who was this singular person? The glorious thing is that we have Paul the Apostle’s commentary on this verse in the New Testament. Paul declared, Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed, who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). Do you see how Abraham’s seed could bless all Gentile nations? Note in Galatians 3:29, Paul also explained that, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So, if you are in Christ, then you are in Abraham’s seed, and you become an inheritor of all the promises made to this man of faith. Every promise that God wants to fulfill in His people, is fulfilled through Christ.

A genealogy.  Vs. 20-24

In these last few verses of this chapter, we see a genealogy given of the other children that were born to Abraham’s brother. It is recorded, Now it came to pass after these things that it was told Abraham, saying, ‘Indeed Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: Huz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.’ And Bethuel begot Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham's brother. His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore Tebah, Gaham, Thahash, and Maachah” (Gen. 22:20-24).

Now, many who read these last few verses think to themselves, Why are these verses recorded here? They seem out of place. I’ll just skip these verses. But the information that is recorded in this genealogy gives you important details that affect the continuing storyline in the chapters that follow. What is the most important detail? It’s the name of Rebekah. This genealogy actually gives us the information for where Isaac will get his wife. When Abraham sends out his servant to find a wife for Isaac, where does he send him? He tells him to go to his brother, Nahor (Gen. 24). Therefore, this genealogy reveals that God was working beforehand in another family that believed in the God of Abraham, to raise up a young woman who would be Isaac’s wife.

This is exactly how God works in each of our lives. He is already working beforehand, preparing the way that we should walk, so we can fulfill His plan. This is exactly what Paul stated about how God works with each of us. He declared in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” He has prepared beforehand all of the circumstances of your life. He prepares you for the job you will do long before you ever see it. He prepares you for your future spouse, and your spouse for you. He knows every trial and blessing that you will experience, and He is preparing beforehand what you will need for each struggle. He has been taking care of all that you have need of for a long time. It is so comforting to know this truth, and it enables you to rest and trust His sovereign hand. If you are in the midst of a difficult situation right now, remember, He has already prepared a way of escape for you, or will give you the grace you need to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). He will go before and behind you by night and by day just as He did for the Children of Israel. He went before them directing their path, and protecting them from behind (Ex. 14:19). Trust Him that He has you in the palm of His hand (Ps. 31:15). Never forget God’s Word to His people, Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).