Genesis Through the Lens of the Cross (Continued)
Sermon Summary

This message looks at the story of Abraham and his son Isaac when God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on an alter in the region of Moriah. This was a most unusual request in that God had never asked this of anyone before. Issac was Abraham’s only son and was the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham to make a mighty nation from Abraham’s decedents. There are several back stories covered in order to set the stage for the main text. As is pointed out, God did not let Abraham go through with the sacrifice. This begs the question of why God would have even asked him to do such a thing in the first place. Three profound reasons are given: First, God wanted Abraham to trust Him through obedience. Second, God wanted Abraham and the Hebrew people to know that child sacrifice was not something God desired from his people. Third, God was using this to point to a future sacrifice only He could make through His only Son Jesus. Jesus was to be the perfect lamb, provided as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Special Note: The sermon notes have been revised to correct a mistake I made in referring to Melchizedek as one of the Nine kings involved in the regional conflict mentioned in some of the back story material. He was not. Melchizedek was king of Salem. Melchizedek mysteriously showed up with bread and wine when the king of Sodom met Abraham in the valley of Shaveh after Abraham had rescued Lot. Abraham tithed ten percent of his plunder to this priestly king of God Most High!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. What were some of your overall impressions or take aways from Sunday’s message?

2. Did the back stories help you understand the main text better or do you think it was more detail than was needed? Why or why not?

3. Three profound reasons were give as to why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son and then prevented him from following through. First, God wanted Abraham to trust Him through obedience. Second, God wanted Abraham and the Hebrew people to know that child sacrifice was not something God desired from his people. Third, God was using this to point to a future sacrifice only He could make through His only Son Jesus. What lessons from this could be applied to our lives today?
1 Pet 1:3  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Pet 1:4  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,
1 Pet 1:5  who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Pet 1:6  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
1 Pet 1:7  These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Pet 1:8  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
1 Pet 1:9  for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Rom 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
Rom 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.


4. Abraham is listed three times in the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11! What are some ways you could apply that kind of faith and trust in God in your daily life? Listed below are selected verses from Hebrews 11...
Heb 11:1  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Heb 11:2  This is what the ancients were commended for.
Heb 11:8  By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Heb 11:9  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
Heb 11:10  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Heb 11:11  By faith Abraham, even though he was past age--and Sarah herself was barren--was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Heb 11:12  And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Heb 11:17  By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,
Heb 11:18  even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."
Heb 11:19  Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.





Sermon Notes:
I'm so glad each one of you are here today and it is my prayer that you will learn some things today that will build your faith and help you see just how amazing the gospel, the Good News of The Bible really is!
Like last week, today's message comes from the book of Genesis and before we get to our main text, I need to share with you a brief history or the back story of our text.
We will once again look through the lens of the Cross at this very foundational Biblical story. As we do, I believe we'll discover some awesome spiritual truths.
Let's pray and ask God to guide our study today, to show us His truth and to teach us how these truths apply to our lives!

PRAY!!

 Today we're going to talk about Abraham and his son Issac and a particular incident that happened between them.
But first, the back story…
Abraham was once known as Abram. God would later change his name to Abraham and his wife's name from Sarai to Sarah.

 When Abram was around 75 years of age God spoke to him and asked him to take a big step of faith. Listen...

 Genesis 12:1-5

1The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

2“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. ”

4So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.

5He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Genesis 12:1-5 (NIV)

God made a powerful promise  to a 75 year man!

 "I will make you into a great nation!"
Abram obviously trusted God because he obeyed!


 Some time later, Abram's herds and Lot's herds were growing so much, they needed to separate. They had traveled through various lands together, but it was time so Lot went one way and Abram went the other.
I don't have time to go into all the details, but sometime later, Lot was caught up in a regional conflict between nine kingdoms. Five kings against four other kings. The four kings won and when they were taking captives and the spoils of war, Lot and his things were taken as well.

Abram jumps into action and takes 318 of his men and defeats the four kings and rescues Lot and his things.

 Of course the five kings who had been previously defeated are elated by Abram's victory.

 It was a victory for them as well! One of these kings came out to meet Abram in the valley of Shaveh.

Another King, who was not listed as one of the kings in the conflict, came out as well and brought bread and wine.

This King who just shows up in our story has a very special place in Bible history. Listen...

 Genesis 14:18-20

18Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,

19and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.

20And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Genesis 14:18-20 (NIV)

What is the significance of Melchizedek? He was never  mentioned in a Biblical genealogy.  

So his birth is never recorded and his death is never mentioned in the Bible. Very, very unusual.

Why? Melchizedek was a type, or a foreshadowing of a King  who would someday be the Alpha and the Omega.

One who was the beginning and the ending, but who also had always been and would always be. Jesus the Christ!

Check this out...

Hebrews 6:17-7:4 (NIV)

17Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.

18God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.

19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,

2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”

3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.

4Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
Hebrews 6:17-7:4 (NIV)

Are you beginning to see Genesis through the lens of the Cross? So much to see.
As we return to our backstory we find Abram and Sarai continuing to age and yet without a child, and yet God continues to confirm His promise.
Genesis 15:1-6

1After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ”

2But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”

3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

4Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. ”

5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars —if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

6Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:1-6 (NIV)

There's so much more to the back story. Abram and Sarai tried to take matters into their own hands and Abram fathered a child by one of Sarai's maidservants. Sometimes when it seems so improvable and impossible for God's way to work, don't we many times try to figure out a way to do things on our own? Yes we do and the consequences can be very serious and even tragic.
God has to once again remind Abram to trust Him...
Genesis 17:1-6

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty ; walk before me and be blameless.

2I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

3Abram fell facedown, and God said to him,

4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.

5No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

6I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
Genesis 17:1-6 (NIV)

 It was at this same time God told Abraham to change Sarai's name to Sarah. What happens next is a real miracle.

1Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.

2Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.

3Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.

4When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him.

5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

6Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

7And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Genesis 21:1-7 (NIV)

Isaac was very much a miracle child! Issac was a type or a foreshadowing of the Messiah who would someday come.

A Messiah who whose birth would also be miraculous. Sarah said "how can I have a child when I and my master are so old!"
Mary said, "how can I have a child when I have not been with a man?"

Why am I comparing Issac with Jesus. You will now see an amazing connection between our story today and the story of Jesus. You can only see it through the lens of the Cross.
God was about to ask Abraham to do something He had never asked anyone to do before and He would never ask anyone again to do this...

Genesis 22:1-18

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

2Then 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. ”

Wait! Stop the cameras! Cut, cut, cut! This can't be. God would never ask anyone to do such a thing! Would He?

Don't judge God yet. There are several very profound reasons God asked Abraham to do the unthinkable! It will make sense. Let's read on...

3Early 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.

4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.

5He 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. ”

6Abraham 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,

7Isaac 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?”

8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

10Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

11But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

12“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ”

13Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

14So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided. ”

15The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time

16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,

17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,

18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

19Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.


Genesis 22:1-19 (NIV)

 Ok, I told you there were several profound reasons God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. What are they?

 Profound Reason #1
God wanted Abraham to trust Him completely by obeying.

 Have no other gods before me. Nothing should preempt or usurp God's place in our life, not even our children.

 Can you imagine how important Isaac was to Abraham and Sarah? Their only child and a miracle child!

 And Isaac was the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham.
Maybe this test for Abraham was as much for Abraham as

it was for God. Was God truly first place? Did Abraham really love God more than he loved Isaac?

Did Abraham really trust God?
Yes, yes and yes!

First He obeyed!
Second, he was willing to give up his one and only son to God!
Third he had amazing trust and faith in God.

Check out the faith...

5He 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. ”

 Abraham didn't know how, but he knew God had made a promise and had done amazing miracles to keep the promise.

 Somehow, someway, today would be no different!
Abraham said...
"We will be back!"

 Profound Reason #2

God did not condone human sacrifice!

 There were child sacrifices going on at the time of Abraham in pagan rituals.
God would use this story to show all of Israel and the world that human sacrifice was not a valid way to worship Him.  

Deuteronomy 12:31 (NIV)

31You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
Deuteronomy 12:31 (NIV)

 And again God says in Jeremiah 32:35
35They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.
Jeremiah 32:35 (NIV)

 In other words, God had never given a command to His people to literally sacrifice their children to Him as an act of worship. The one time He asked someone to be willing to do this, He did not let them go through with it!

 We should all be willing to dedicate our children to the Lord and give them to the Lord, but not as a human sacrifice!

 Profound Reason #3
God was using this to point to a future sacrifice only He could make!

 Did you notice Scripture keeps pointing out Isaac was Abraham's one and only son?

 2Then God said, “Take your son , your only son, Isaac, whom you love…
Gen. 22:2a

 John 3:16 says...

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)

 And have you ever noticed
vs. 6 ?

6Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac...
                        Gen. 22:6a

 Issac carried the very wood that would be used for the sacrifice. What about Jesus?

16Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.

17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

18Here they crucified him, and with him two others —one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
John 19:16-18 (NIV)

 Now we know from the other Gospels, at one point Simon of Cyrene helped Him, but He carried the wooden Cross on which He would be sacrificed!


 And then Isaac asked the toughest question to his father. Isaac was young, but he was perceptive...

7Isaac 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?”

8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
Genesis 22:7-8 (NIV)

 And how God provided!!
Remember this verse from 1 Peter 1:18-19

18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18-19 (NIV)

 Something amazing happened when Abraham was about to do the deed...

9When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

10Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

11But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

12“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ”
Genesis 22:9-12 (NIV)

 Who was The Angel of The LORD?
God Himself. How do we know? Because of what He said...

 I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son."

 It's like Jesus, in great compassion, was saying, "no, don't do this! I will someday be your sacrifice.

 Someone might be asking right now, "Does this have any practical application to my life?"

 More than you could possibly imagine. The details of this message show how God has been pursuing a relationship with you from the beginning of time. Before you were ever born, God had provided a way for you. God had made an unthinkable sacrifice for you.
Just like God provided a sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac...

13Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

14So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided. ”
Genesis 22:13-14 (NIV)

 Jesus is the provision for our sins...

Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV)

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,

2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV)

Did you ever wonder why Jesus said "It is finished" just before He died on the Cross? It was because He had finished His work of providing for our salvation, our redemption, our restoration, our forgiveness, our eternity!

 God cared so much for you He worked even in the smallest details of ancient prophecy to show you the depth of His love!

 If God worked so hard back then to set the stage for our salvation don't you think He still wants to work in your life?

 Yes, the details of your life are very important to God! But remember, it's your choice whether or not to let Him help!

 And finally, through the lens of the Cross, we see that Jesus was a part of the promise of God made to Abraham...

15The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time

16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,

17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,
18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Genesis 22:15-18 (NIV)

8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”

12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”

13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Galatians 3:8-14 (NIV)