Sermon Title: Walking with Abraham: God’s Test
Text: Genesis 22 (ESV)
Brief summary (what’s the point of this text/sermon?)
In so many ways Abraham’s life has always been moving here. It’s been 40+ years since God first appeared to him, making him the promise about a land, a nation, and a blessing. It’s been 15+ years since the promised son Isaac was born, and Abraham and Sarah have certainly been thinking about the future. All of their hopes were bound up in this young man. Or so it seemed.
And now this. God asks the unthinkable. A human sacrifice? Of Isaac, the beloved son?
For thousands of years, people have wrestled with this story, trying to make sense of it. At some point, though, we must simply recognize that God is sovereign and loving and that he has the right to test his people. He already knows how Abraham will respond, of course.
For Abraham who lived out this story and for Israel who later read it, they needed to know that God is always to be trusted. He is God, and his ways are beyond ours.
From our vantage point, we read the story and see hints of something else, something better. We think of another hill, another young man, another sacrifice.
After Isaac’s life had been spared and Abraham saw what God had done, he named this place, “The LORD will provide.”
God provided what Abraham needed most at that moment, and we serve the same God today. He will provide–and has provided–what we so desperately need.
How do I live out the implications of this passage? (Discussion starters to help with applying the sermon to our lives)
- God asked this unbelievable thing of Abraham only after Abraham had been walking with God for 40 years or more. Why did God wait that long? Does 1 Corinthians 10:13 apply here? (“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”) Does God only test us in ways that are consistent with where we are on our spiritual walk?
- Notice how the text includes absolutely no hesitation on Abraham’s part (22:3: “So Abraham rose early in the morning . . .”). Apparently he had finally grown to the point that he trusted God implicitly. How does walking with God and seeing him work year after year develop this kind of absolute trust? How has that worked out in your life? Think about specific areas/roles (marriage, parenting, work, health, anxiety, stress, joys, disappointments, etc.).
- Notice the repetition of the phrases, “Here I am” and “So they went both of them together” (22:1, 6; 7, 8; 11, 19). Three times Abraham said, “Here I am” (once to God, once to Isaac, and once to the angel), and three times the text uses a phrase like “So they went both of them together.” How does God bless this kind of attitude? How do we demonstrate a “Here I am” kind of spirit before God? (Isaiah 6:8: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’”).
- How do we respond when we sense God is leading us toward obedience that is difficult? When was the last time that your faith led you to do something hard? What gave you the courage and fortitude to do it?
- When Isaac asked his father where the sacrifice was, Abraham responded, “God will provide” (22:8). After the ram appeared, Abraham named the place, “The Lord will provide” (22:14). What has God promised to provide for his children? How have you witnessed God’s provisions during your walk of faith?
- In the sermon we talked about several ways that this story foreshadows the crucifixion of Christ. Discuss some of these parallels. How does the cross demonstrate that “The Lord will provide”? (cf. Romans 8:32: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”)