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Living by Faith (Vol 41) - Abraham: What made Abraham Rejoice?

Sunday English Service - 02 JUNE 19

Transcript

Hebrews chapter 11. Let me read to you from verse 17 to 19. After that, I'm going to read also Genesis chapter 22 verses 13 and 14 and then a third portion from John's Gospel chapter 8 and verse 56. First, let me read to you from Hebrews chapter 11 verse 17 to 19. 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. 

Now, Hebrews chapter 11 is a great faith chapter where all the great heroes of faith are mentioned. And through their lives, and their faith, faith is taught to the New Testament Christians. And here, most of the space is given to Abraham. From verse 8 to 19 it is all about Abraham. And I've been already showing you that Abraham's life is seen in four stages. Four stages of Abraham's faith we've been talking about. The first stage is the call, where God comes and calls him. He was in a condition where he did not know God, worshipping gods and following worship of the kind that has been told to him, that has been taught to him by his ancestors. And as he was living there, God appeared to him and that encounter with God must have been so real that he leaves the country as well as the people and comes to follow God to a new place, to live a new life. This is called the call of Abraham. We can identify with that. We were also people that did not know God, but God, in a way came to us, appeared to us, so to speak, touched our lives and we came to know Him as the living God. And we left our former life of sin and our practices, and began a new life in Christ away from all those things that we used to follow. We've come into a salvation experience, experienced the call of God.

The second thing is where Abraham goes and lives in the country where God has called him to, 1,000 miles away from where he was. And there he learns two important lessons. That God is the provider, because God makes him rich, while famine was going on there. He understood that faith in God really raises you to overcome the problems of this life. And also he learned that he can have victory over all the enemies and all the circumstances that come against him by the grace of God, and accomplish God's purposes. A lot of people don't understand this aspect of faith. They see faith as only an instrument through which a person can be saved. They do not see faith as something that causes you to trust in God for your needs to be met. They don't believe that faith is something that brings victory in all circumstances, and so on. But Abraham experienced that and we also must understand and experience and know these things.

The third stage is where he experiences the God of the impossible. God takes a 99-year-old man, 90-year-old woman, and works on that body that was now dead and the womb that was now dead, and brings forth a great nation out of them. Absolute miracle. Nobody can do it and God does it. Abraham experiences that faith brings God's miracles. God is the God of the impossible. And faith brings about things that are impossible. Makes things that are impossible, possible.

And now, we're looking at the fourth stage. We've been looking at it for the last two weeks. Now, on third week, right now we're looking at the fourth stage of faith, which is the ultimate faith. I call it ultimate faith because now Abraham has carried on a relationship with God for a long time, maybe around 50 years or so or more. And now, he has experienced God, experienced so many good things about God. Learned one thing about God, that God never lies, that God is a holy God, righteous God, good God, He’s Almighty God, nothing is impossible for Him. And when you trust in Him, He never lets you down. He began to understand all of these things. He has become very great believer in God. His faith has deepened, strengthened. He’s on a very advanced level of faith. He's ready to trust God.

And how much is he able to trust God? He's ready to do whatever God says. And God is now saying to him, “Take your son, and offer him as a sacrifice.” And lo and behold, Abraham is ready to do that because he believes that God is good, God is holy, God is righteous. That He will not hurt him, He will not damage him, He will not take anything away from him, He will not cheat him, that He will not lie to him. He understands that God is a wonderful, amazing, good God, that He can be trusted. And he dares to go and even kill his son because God said so. This is what you call ultimate faith. You reach a stage where you begin to believe God so much in His goodness that you never distrust God, you never question the goodness of God. You become so strong in your faith that you're ready to do whatever God asks you to do. I think we all need to get to that stage of faith. That is for us to understand. That is why the author of the book of Hebrews mentions it here, that when he was tested, he offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. That's the only son he had, but he offered him. And it was said about Isaac, the only son, that in Isaac shall your seed be called. That means, in Isaac only all the promises of God are going to come through and come to pass in Abraham's life.

And so, Abraham concludes that God was able to even raise him up if he has to because Isaac has to live. And I explained that last week in a great detail. He believes that God's promises cannot come true if Isaac dies. But God is asking him to kill him. So, if he killed, he believes that God will even raise him up if he has to from the dead. And in what was enacted on Mount Moriah, he literally, in a figurative sense, received Isaac back from the dead, literally. He was about to kill him. God stopped him at the last moment and told him, “No, not your son. I got other arrangements. I came here to reveal something to you.” And he was given back his son. Abraham must have felt like his son has died and come back to life literally.

In a figurative sense, he was made to see how God the Father will give His only begotten Son, His beloved Son, for us as a sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary. And not in a figurative sense, in a real sense, He will die, and God will raise Him up again from the death, and receive Him back to Himself. He was made to see all of that. More than that, he was able to see that God not only received His Son back on the third day when He raised him up, He received many sons back into glory. He brought many sons into glory through Jesus Christ. Because all mankind, we were all created for God, we got lost in sin. We went far away from God, disconnected from God, could not come to God, could not have a relationship with God, but the cross of Calvary fixed that, solved that problem, opened a way for us to come to God. Therefore, when Jesus rose again, not only did He receive His own Son back from the dead, He received all who were spiritually dead, and were far away from God, disconnected from God. He received them back into glory. Hebrews chapter 2 verse 10, literally tells us that Jesus died on the cross so that He may bring many sons into glory. All right, it’s the essence of it.

To give him the revelation of it, He did it and I explained that revelation last week in great detail. But the most interesting thing is, Jesus Himself talks about it. And when the author of Hebrews mentions here in 17 to 18, this incidence, he’s mentioning, actually what happened in Genesis chapter 22. The whole chapter is about Abraham offering his son Isaac. The whole thing that's happening there is mentioned in three verses in Hebrews chapter 11. And then Jesus mentions it in just one verse. He makes a real big point there, and I want to read it, and I want to explain it today.

But let me read to you Genesis chapter 22 verse 13 and 14, because we're going to come to this. Then Abraham lifted up his eyes. Now, this is after Abraham lifted up his knife to kill Isaac, and God stopped him and told him, “No, don't do anything to him because I know that you fear God, and you have not withheld your only son,” and so on. And then Abraham lifts up 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.” All right.

Now this great event, this amazing event is mentioned by Jesus in John's Gospel chapter 8. And we need to look at it because it comes into view here because we're dealing with this. John's gospel chapter 8 verse 56 is what I'm going to read. But let me just tell you the context. Jesus is in a verbal battle with the Pharisees. Starting from verse 32, He has really got it going against the Pharisees. The Pharisees are against him, arguing with him. It all starts when Jesus said in verse 32, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Immediately they got offended. See, for us, it doesn't offend us but to the Pharisees it offended them because He said, “You'll know the truth, the truth shall make you free.”

The Pharisees were very proud, arrogant people. They thought they knew everything. So, they said, “What do you mean, ‘you shall know the truth,’? We already know the truth. What do you mean, ‘the truth shall make you free?’ we are already free. We are no slave to anybody.” So, they were greatly offended by what Jesus said. But Jesus said something that is very real. They don't know the truth. They think they know the truth. They're religious people. All religious people always think they know the truth, that's the problem. That's why you can't tell them much. They’ll say, “I know. You know how many generations I've been a Christian? You don't have to tell me. I know.” But Jesus comes and He says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Truth is standing in human form right in front of them but none of them is recognizing. They were all offended because He said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” They said, “We’re not slave to anyone, who are you to talk to us like that?”

Then the conversation goes into who Jesus is. And they do their utmost to insult Jesus. Literally, they tell him, “We were not born of fornication, but you were,” looking at Jesus. They're saying that He was born of fornication because of His birth. They accuse Him of being born of fornication. They go to that extent to insult Him, His origin and so on. But He's from heaven, He is from God, He's the Son of God, born of a virgin. They don't understand that. They accuse Him of being born of fornication. Literally, they said that in verse 41.

And Jesus, He can be tough also with words. In verse 44, He tells them who they are. He says, “I am the Son of God,” He says, “but you are not the children of God. You are the children of your father, the devil.” You can see what kind of fight is happening. Now, this is where the tension starts and ends up in the crucifixion of Jesus. He says, “Your father is the devil. He's a liar from the beginning, and he's been a murderer, and you got the same spirit. You want to kill me. You want to destroy me. You don't believe the truth, you believe lies. You believe your religion, not the truth. You're from your father, the devil, you got the same nature,” He says. And so, the battle goes on. They say, “No, we know who we are. Our father is Abraham. Can You tell Your father's name?” This kind of thing.

And then because they mentioned Abraham so many times and so proud about Abraham being their father, and their ancestor, He picks on Abraham in verse 56. He says, “Your father Abraham,” He says, His father, in that sense, is also Abraham, because He's also born in the Jewish race. He says, “Your father Abraham,” because they are claiming Abraham to be their father, He says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day. And he saw it and was glad.” In other words, He's saying, “Oh, you're so proud of Abraham. You know, Abraham was proud of Me. He rejoiced to see My day. And he saw it and was glad.”

I want to talk about what made Abraham glad. What did he see? What made Abraham glad? Because this is concerning this whole event that we're talking about the near sacrifice of Abraham, of his son Isaac. There it says, Abraham saw something, and he saw it, and he was glad. Now, what is Jesus referring to? What part of Abraham's life or what experience that Abraham had from the whole story of Abraham? Abraham’s story goes from chapter 12 in Genesis all the way to chapter 24 in Genesis. So many chapters full of Abraham’s story. And Abraham's story, Jesus was very familiar with the story. He’s read the Old Testament; He knows what the Bible says about Abraham. Which part of Abraham's life is He referring to when He says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, he saw it and he was glad”? Which part of Abraham's life or experience is He talking about? Which incident is He referring to when He says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, he saw it and he was glad”? He was referring to this particular incident, the offering up of Isaac by Abraham, the near sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. He said, “In that instance, Abraham saw My day and he rejoiced, and he was glad about it,” He says. Now, this is something wonderful because it tells us that that event is about a revelation that God granted to Abraham concerning Christ and His redemptive work. That is why Jesus could say, “He rejoiced to see My day and he saw it, and he was glad. Meaning that he saw a lot about what I've come to do, and he rejoiced and he was glad to have seen it.”

What did Abraham see in that incident? Now, I explained in great detail, but let me put it in short. One, when he lifted up his knife, and he almost went after Isaac to kill him, he saw how God the Father did not spare His own Son. That's how Romans 8:32 puts it, Paul puts it. He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. He saw that the Heavenly Father will one day take His Son and not even spare His Son, would actually kill His son on the cross of Calvary to provide salvation for mankind. That is the depth of God's love. That is the extent of God's love. That is the intensity of God's love. He saw it. When he lifted up his eyes, just imagine what he would have felt, even though he had faith that God would raise his son up. Even then, killing would have been very difficult. It would have been a very hard decision. It would have been a heartrending experience to Abraham. He was made to experience something of what God would feel when He offered His own Son as a sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. That is why God took him to that level.

He lifted up his hand, and he would have done it, because he had real faith. But it was a very amazing experience. He probably felt great agony inside as he lifted up his knife, and got ready to kill Isaac. He felt surely all the emotions that any father would feel of their son, especially their only son, their beloved son. The son is really beloved son because he seems to have obeyed the father and laid down or allowed himself to be tied to the altar, and ready to die, cooperating with the father. He’s really a beloved son. And what the father's heart would have felt, just imagine that… Abraham felt that day, and understood that God is going to show the intensity of His love for mankind.

See, Abraham was ready to kill his son because he loved God. He loved God more than his son. He trusted in God. Completely had faith in God. He would do anything for God, including killing his son. He trusted in God and God's goodness, so much. He loved God as a good God. And God now stops him and says, “Hey, I'm 1,000 times better you. You think you are good; I am much better. I love you so much. You think you love Me but I will show how much I love you. I will not spare My own Son. I will deliver Him up for us all.” Paul puts it like this in Romans 8:32. He says, “God did not spare His only Son, but delivered Him up for us all. How will He not give us all things freely?” If He has done that, how will He not give us all things freely. So, by raising his knife, he understood the intensity of God's love towards mankind, that He would give His Son.

Secondly, when he was stopped from killing Isaac, and he lifted up his eyes, and he was shown a ram caught in the thicket, and then he took and burnt it as an offering for God in that altar that was prepared for Isaac, in the place of Isaac, instead that of Isaac. In chapter 22 of Genesis in verse 13, it says in that way. He says, So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. That word ‘instead of his son’ is very important. In the place of his son, as a substitute for his son. Right there, God taught him what it means by the substitutionary sacrifice.

In Christianity, we have a great doctrine called the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. That means Jesus took our place. Instead of us dying, He died. Instead of us being punished, He was punished. Instead of us burning there because of the wrath of God falling on us, Jesus on the cross carried on Him, bore upon Himself the wrath of God, the fire of God's wrath. ‘Instead of us’ is very important. It talks about the substitution. He took our place. Instead of us dying, He died. Instead of us being punished, He got punished. This is such an important doctrine and truth.

Remember that God taught the people of Israel to observe Passover, the very first time in Exodus chapter 12. Remember when they were delivered from Egypt and brought out, there were 10 plagues. After nine plagues, Pharaoh will not still let them go. He was hard-hearted. So, he had to learn a lesson. It need not have come to this level, but he brought his people to this terrible level where every oldest child in the house will die. That is the 10th plague that fell upon the Egyptians. Now, Israel has also lived in Egypt, but in a portion of Egypt called Goshen. Every time a plague came, Israelis were not touched by it. God drew a line between Israelites and others, the Egyptians. In the Egyptians, the thing fell, for example, it'll become completely dark where the Egyptians were, and it was all bright, and sun shining where the Israelites were. God showed that, “These are My people. I'm on their side,” in so many ways, but still Pharaoh would not budge.

The 10th plague was a terrible plague when all the firstborns of every house will die. God warned them. They would not listen. So, first born of every family died. Can you imagine the cry and the lamentation that went forth from Egypt all over the cities and towns and villages of Egypt? Everywhere people crying, lamenting about their firstborn being dead. In every house there was death. Even if it was an old man, if he's the oldest in his family, he may be a grandfather but even if he's the oldest, he dies. The oldest shall die. From little child to the old man, everybody died. Lamentation and crying were going on all over the place. But in Goshen where Israelites were living, there was absolute peace. There was death in every house, there was crying in every house but in Israelis house, there was no crying but there was death.

See, some people say there was no death in Israelis house. It is not right. Some people say there is no death in Israeli’s house, there was only death in the Egyptian’s house. No, there was death in Egyptian’s house, there was death in Israeli’s house. But the difference is in the Israeli’s house there was the death of a lamb instead of the first born. That's the difference. Amazing the way God taught the concept of substitution. God thereby saying, “I've prepared a substitute. They who believe on this, they can make use of this substitute. If you put your trust, this substitute will bear it for you. There is a Lamb that I have prepared, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the whole world. He will become your Lamb. He will take your punishment. He will die for you.” He was announcing that way back then at Passover itself. So, this has been taught in the Old Testament in so many ways. All right.

So, when he lifted up his knife, he saw the intensity of God's love, how much God loves us that He will not spare His only Son but deliver Him up for us all. When he saw the ram caught in the thicket and took it and sacrificed that lamb instead of his son Isaac, in the place of his son Isaac as a substitute for the son Isaac. Instead of Isaac burning there, the Lamb went there. God showed him the idea of substitutionary sacrifice. That Jesus is going to take our place and die on the cross of Calvary.

Thirdly, when Abraham received Isaac back in a figurative sense, Hebrews 11:19 says, when Abraham received Isaac in a figurative sense back, he must have felt like Isaac was dead and come back to life really. He would have been dead and gone in just a few seconds. So, when he received Isaac back alive, it was like Isaac had died and come back to life in a figurative sense. But in a real sense on the cross, God the Father killed His Son, then on the third day, received Him back to life. But it was prefigured and foreshadowed and typified in this receiving Isaac back in the figurative sense. He saw how God, who puts His Son on the cross, delivers Him up for us all, as our substitute will receive His Son back on the third day to Himself.

But not only that, see, all of this will not make any man glad. This is no reason to rejoice. I can understand when we hear that Jesus will take our place and die for us. We’re thankful more than rejoicing. It’s a sad event, but we are thankful. It’s a very solemn thing that we should have been punished, but yet He's punished. It's a solemn thing. It is not a cause really, to rejoice and be glad. To rejoice and glad is something different to be happy about. So, Jesus’ dying for us, is not the thing that made Abraham glad. Seeing that is not what made Abraham glad. Jesus taking our place is not what made Abraham glad. Jesus rising from the dead is not even the thing that made Abraham glad. Well, if He raised back from the dead, well, we're in a way, satisfied that He’s okay. But what makes Abraham rejoice and be glad, there is something more in it. Not only God raised Jesus back and receives Him back, receives His son, whom He lost on the cross of Calvary, who became sin and became cursed and died and was buried. He raises Him and receives Him back to life. That's a wonderful thing. But something more than that happened. It also guaranteed that through Him and through what He has done, God who has lost many sons and daughters... See…we were all created for Him, to be His children. But sin separated us from God. That's why sin is such a tragic thing. Took us away from God. We became distanced from God. We could not enter into a relationship with God. We cannot fellowship with God, because He's holy and we are sinful. And when God raised Jesus from the dead, He not only raised His Son and got him back, He raised us who are spiritually dead, and got us back to Himself to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him not only in this life, but one day, even after we die, we’ll be raised back to life literally in a resurrection. And the resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee of it and we will live with Him forever more. This is what I believe, made Abraham glad. He saw himself there. He saw his future there. He saw his heavenly life there. He saw how he will live in eternity with God. He saw how his sins will be washed away. He saw how he’ll become a child of God. He saw how he will be brought back to God in a relationship with God. But then he saw beyond his life on this earth, that one day when he dies, and when his life is over on this earth, he saw that we’ll all get together in heaven. And our bodies will be given back to us in the resurrection that will be raised back to life. He saw that. He saw his own future, the glory that God has reserved for Him. He saw, not only for Him, but all those who believe in Him, all those who put their trust in Christ will receive this. That made him glad.

Now, that is about to make anybody glad. Now, how glad he was? That you have to use your imagination. The Bible, I always say, is written in brief format. Why? Because paper was not readily available back then. It was the age of writing in all kinds of other material which was very rare and very expensive. It was not common for people to have a lot of books and things like that. Average house will not have a book at all. Today, books have become very common. In every house, we have plenty of books. How many Bibles we have? Countless number of Bibles we have. They can buy any Bible anytime. And paper is so cheap that we write and write and write. Now, buy them by the stack, and write and throw them away. Don't even think about it because it's become so accessible, so cheap, we can easily get it, we don't even mind. We don't even think of it as a waste. We are very privileged people today. Back then it was a very precious material, very rarely available. And even the writing material, like a pen or something, the instrument to write with is very expensive, and very rare. Therefore, every written material was done very carefully and sparingly. Words were used very carefully, not wasted. That is why the Bible is written in a brief format. You have to expand it. You have to understand it.

I remember when I went to school to study, there was one course called the art of preaching, they taught us how to preach. And the very first class I remember in preaching was that we had to get up and speak and there was a dreadful glass for me. There’s a difficulty. He had to systematically stand up and speak. And the thing is, they told us the first thing to do was to take a story like Abraham offering his son Isaac. You have to take a story and tell that story in a very interesting way. Filling in the gaps of the details that are not available here but it must be reasonable. You cannot build up your own story and tell your own story. You cannot insert things there. You've got to take this, the brief statements, and expand on it and tell the story in an interesting way. It was a very challenging thing. I dreaded that class. All the students hated that thing because it was so difficult for us as young people. We didn’t get into the Bible so deeply at the time. And it was a such a challenging thing for us.

But it has really helped me. It helped me to imagine. For example, when Abraham received his son Isaac back from dead, he came to kill him but God stops him and says, “No, no, no… not him. I've got My Son prepared and there is a ram caught in the thicket that signifies My Son. You take him and burn him, you understand simply that I'm going to offer My Son Jesus, that is the good news I'm giving you. Not your son, but My Son.” Now, Abraham receives his son literally in a figurative sense back from the dead literally. It's like a son dead and now come to life.

Now, if you were the father of Isaac, if you were Abraham, how glad you would have felt. See, this is what you had imagined. What kind of rejoicing would you have experienced? Just imagine. Just imagine the conversation that went on between Isaac and Abraham. Isaac laying down there expecting his father to stab him, literally cut him and shed his blood and kill him and then burn him, all of a sudden goes back into the bosom of his father, received back by the father. How glad the father must have been, what love he must have showered upon his son, how happy he must have been, what words would have been spoken there. Just imagine that.

And then they come down from the mountain and you remember they left two servants at the bottom of the mountain. They went up saying, “We're going to worship and come back after worshiping God.” So, they come back and they meet the two servants. You think Abraham just shut up and walked home? It was a three-day’s journey. Would you walk home quietly, if you had experienced something like this? You almost sacrificed your son and you did not know what was going to happen. You know that God's going to raise him up from the dead, but you don't know how He'll do it. It was a kind of a tense situation. But then it was great relief when you were given back your son. And you come back and you meet the servant. Just imagine the kind of emotion, the words that flowed from Abraham's mouth to the servants about the love of God that he saw and experienced, the intensity of God's love. How that God has a great plan of salvation. How God is going to give His only Son as a sacrifice one day.

Oh, the story would have been amazing. He’d have told him about how he experienced God's love, how he saw God's heart, the intensity of His love, how that God has prepared His own Son as a sacrifice, did not even spare His Son, but made Him as a substitute for us. And how that God by His power, the God who created the heaven and earth will use His power to raise His son back from death. And not only Him back from death, but all those that are spiritually dead back to life. And even all those that put their trust in Him back to life literally in a resurrection of their bodies one day.

That story would have taken at least three days through the journey to tell. He would have come home. And there's quite a lot of people that lived with Abraham. Remember when he had to fight a war with kings, he took 318 household servants, calculating on the basis of how he had 318 people who are fit for war, one scholar has calculated that he would have had at least 2,000  dependants in the form of servants and their household. Just imagine Abraham was a very wealthy man, 2,000 people literally depended upon him. Their men working for him and their families living around him. And he must have gathered all the 2,000 people. That would have made a good church service. I don't know what he would have done, I don't know if they sang a song, if they danced and they praised God and worshipped God. I don't know what they did. He must have told the story. And he would not have left it at that because he lived for many more years after that. He would have told it again and again and again and again and again. Probably 45 years later, he was still telling the story. Somebody must have told him, “Abraham, this is the 50th time we are hearing it.”

Have you ever experienced our old grandfathers in our house telling us how in 1940 they went here and there and did this? And you say, “Grandpa, you told us already a dozen times. You want to start all over again?” They want to start all over again because that's been a wonderful experience. They can never forget. They can’t help tell the story again. They enjoy telling the story. How much more this story would have been enjoyable story for Abraham. He would have gladly told it again and again and again. And every time he told it, he would have rejoiced about God's great love, the intensity of God's love. God's heart as a Father, how God gives His only Son as our substitute and how it was a painful experience for God but He went through it because of His love for us. And how God is a God of all power, that He raises the dead. And there we have our hope of resurrection.

Life itself has turned into another kind of thing. One of the greatest problems in life is that we fear death. Death is the greatest enemy for man. We fear death. Every person in this world, no matter how great he is, he may be a king, very powerful person on earth, fears death. And now, for Abraham when he came down from that mountain after knowing that God's Son will be raised back and that means that he will also one day experience resurrection. When he received the revelation that he is guaranteed a resurrection and Jesus is the first fruit of that resurrection, that he will be joined back with God with a new body, a body that does not die, does not perish. When he came down that mountain, life must have looked totally different. He saw the world and life with a totally different eye. Everybody should have said to him, “What happened Abraham? You're not even afraid of death. You're not even afraid of what everybody is afraid of. What happened? Why are you like that?”

Every Christian ought to be like that because we are Abraham's children. That is part of Abraham's blessing. Abraham's God is our God. We have the faith of Abraham. We trust in the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. We have entered into a relationship with God. God has received us back. Those of us who were spiritually dead have come back to God. We are in a relationship with God. But our hope does not end there. It goes on even after this life, that we will be raised up from the dead, and we’ll be joined together with our God forever and ever. So that we deal with death itself in a different way. Our outlook of world and life and the threatening situations is totally different. No wonder Jesus said, “Don't be afraid of those who will take your life. Don't fear those who will just take your life. There are bigger issues than that. Life they can take away but I'll give it to you back. Don't worry about that,” He says. “If somebody is going to kill you,” He says, “don't worry about that. Don't worry about losing your life because nobody can take your life away from you. Because I am the life-giver and I'm going to give it to you forever more. Eternally, I'm going to give it to you.” That is why in a difficult world also Christians live with a totally different attitude. Truly, we are not afraid of death. We look at death itself to its face and dare death because Jesus has overcome it.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection we have such hope, such faith. That's why the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 13 it says, “Brethren,” he says, “do not sorrow as the world experiences sorrow.” When the world experiences sorrow, they lament, the beat on their chest. They roll on the floor. They cannot contain their sorrow. Why these poor people don't have any hope? When somebody dies, they don't know where they went. What has happened? They believe that they're going to just go dust to dust, earth to earth, ashes to ashes. They believe the chapter is closed, finished. They came and they disappeared, gone. So, they lament over it. They roll and scream and shout. And sometimes they themselves become sick and die having a heart attack right there because it's such a shocking experience. They cannot take the sorrow. Do we grieve? Yes, we have the capacity to grieve. When somebody dies, we feel that we miss them because they've been with us - a father or a mother or a grandfather, somebody that's been with us so many years. Certainly, we cry, we shed tears. But it's different. We shed tears, all the while while we are experiencing hope on the inside that one day, we're all going to get together again. That we'll all see each other again. There is hope. Therefore, we wipe away our tears.

Psalm 30 verse 5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” That means the weeping, the sorrow, the grief must be just like the night which comes temporarily. Night has not come to stay. You've got all your everything perfectly ready for the morning. You've got even your shirts ironed to wear in the morning and go. You got all your calendar set, your appointment set for the next day. And you're going to close your eyes in the dark and sleep. And you are kind of sure that you're going to be up in the morning and carry on your duties. Weeping must be understood in that way, the Bible says. It must be a temporary, short-lived thing, that you experience it like a night in your life. And always there must be the dawning of the morning where joy returns. That is Christianity.

Even death cannot completely immerse us in its sorrow. No Christian must be immersed in their sorrow and be lost in sorrow. And no Christian must be in a position where they don't know what to do in their sorrow. Every Christian must know how to draw comfort and strength in the midst of their sorrow. And that comes through this truth about the resurrection of Jesus, and the hope of our resurrection. Just like Hebrews 11 is a faith chapter, 1 Corinthians 15 is a resurrection chapter.

So, just imagine the happiness of the father. Abraham, as he got down from the mountain, as he came home, gathered the 2,000 people that lived around him and told them, probably gathered the whole town and told them about this wonderful God who loves people, who has got a plan of redemption for them. That He will give His only Son. All gods are asking for some kind of sacrifice, all gods are asking for something from people but here is a God that is ready to give His own Son. He doesn't ask anybody's children. He's not interested in taking anything from us. He's interested in giving His own Son. He loves His people. This is a different kind of God. He would have been glad to announce and declare this God to the people around him. So, resurrection is a thing that causes him to rejoice and be glad. “Abraham saw it and he was glad. He rejoiced to see My day. He saw it and he was glad,” Jesus says. Because he understood that resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of all that trust in Jesus is guaranteed through this whole thing.

Now, this thing about the resurrection is mentioned in so many places in the Bible, even in the Old Testament. If you just trace it, for example. Abraham, if you look at in biblical order, if you go from Genesis, Exodus, and so on, Genesis 22, where Abraham offers his son Isaac is the first time where the revelation of resurrection is given. Maybe the cross comes even earlier, even in the third chapter of Genesis where God said to Satan, “I'll put enmity between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head and you will bruise his heel.” That is talking about the cross of Calvary and there was some revelation about what is going to happen on the cross of Calvary. But the resurrection revelation is given specifically in this incidence where Abraham went to Mount Moriah to offer his son Isaac. The next time the resurrection revelation is given in the Bible is in the book of Job as far as I know.

If you’ll go to Job chapter 19, it's very interesting to see this. And Job they say is even more ancient than Abraham. If that is so, it is amazing the kind of revelation that Job had concerning the resurrection. The Savior, the resurrection, the second coming, the bodily resurrection, everything he seems to have understood way back then. That is why some of the unbelievers find it very difficult to believe the Bible. They think it was written at a very late period. They made it all up later on and wrote it. That's the only way it can be true, they think, because they say, “Well, how could Job know about the Savior, the Redeemer. It says, “My Redeemer lives.” How does he know if he's more ancient than Abraham? How did he have that? They don't believe in revelation; they don't believe in Abraham going to Mount Moriah offering his son and receiving a revelation about God offering His Son and all that. So, they say, “Oh, that's impossible. So, this must all have been written after the fact. So, they filled it all up. Now it makes the Bible look good.” That's the accusation they make. But the Bible to me is most amazing.

Turn to Chapter 19 of Job and verse 25. Look at this. For I know that my Redeemer lives. When does he say this? The context is very important. He has lost all his wealth. He has lost all his children. He has lost everything that he's had. And he's lost his own personal health. From top of his head to the bottom of his feet, he’s sickened. His body is literally rotting away. The man has suffered to the utmost. Some people say, “I'm another Job.” Well, you don't know what it means to be another Job. Don't even think that you want to experience something like that. That is a very sad case. Job experienced utmost tragedy in his life, lost children, wealth, everything… his own health. Only his wife was alive. And he wonders why she was alive because she was telling him, “Curse God and die.” She was no help. She was no comfort or consolation. She was turning against him in his most grief-filled moment of his life. Here is a man tormented literally by everything that has happened to him.

And then here are some friends and I think no one in this world deserves friends like this. And it so happens that in this world, we have many friends like this because Job's friends have grandsons living among us especially in Tamil Nadu. There's plenty of them in the Christian circle. I call them Job's friends. Have you ever seen them? I know many Job’s friends. When I come, I have the coffee ready. I give them and I say, “I got to go somewhere, please. Don't start talking. I don't have time.” Because when they start talking, they will do all kinds of thing. They'll start prophesying. They'll tell you, “Oh God told me why this happened, why that happened? Maybe this so, maybe that is so, maybe this is the...” They'll philosophize, they will theologize, and they will reason, and they will talk like God just came this morning and spoke to them and told them everything.”

Have you have seen people like that? Job's friends. Let’s say, this is how it happened. They have no mercy. I remember a man of God experienced the death of his own daughter in a very unfortunate accident. I remember him saying that somebody said, it seems, mercilessly. One of Job's friends said, “The head that wore flowers, God has crushed.” What a sad way to say things. These people don't have any mercy, no kindness. When a man has lost his daughter and experiences such pain, you don't speak words like that. But there are plenty of people that will use the rudest words and terms and talk nonsense. So, Job had lost everything, he’s in pain and he looks around. He's got friends, they’re no help. They're all reasoning and philosophizing, theologizing and say, “Maybe God did this because of that. Maybe this is the reason, maybe you're not right. Maybe you did this, maybe you did that. They were accusing him and turning him over and examining him and from head to toe what may have gone wrong and reasoning. So, looking back there’s no comfort because everything is lost. Looking to what is happening right now is no comfort because these guys are talking nonsense. So, Job looks at what's going to happen to him, because he's lost even his health.

They're saying, Well, you're going to die, your body is rotting away. You're going to die.” And Job says, “So what? I know my Redeemer lives.” In that moment of great grief, and sorrow, God gives him a mighty revelation, that there is a redeemer who has fixed even this problem, that this Redeemer has even fixed the problem of death, the problem of sickness and all of these things, he has fixed it forever. “I know that my Redeemer lives,” he says. “And He shall stand at last on the earth”. Talking about the second coming of Jesus. He’s talking about a redeemer, a savior, amazing term to be used by an ancient man like that. How did he ever manage to have an idea of redemption, and a redeemer? Amazing? And how does he know that he's going to come and stand on this earth. He knows that he's a human being, taken on humanity. He's got flesh and bone body, that he's going to come and stand on the earth. Amazing again. Then he says, and after my skin is destroyed, this I know.

See, even if my skin is destroyed this I know. That in my flesh I shall see God. You think my skin is destroyed; you think I'm rotting away in my skin through my sickness. He says, “In this flesh, this flesh is going to be fixed forever. As a body that will not have any sickness anymore. The body that is perfect. The body that God made in the beginning, before sin ever came and dominated man. The body that God gave to man. God is going to fix it. Therefore, in my flesh, I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” He wants to make sure that everybody understood that he's not talking about some experience of some other man. He says, “My own eyes, my eyes will see.” In other words, he believes, “Even if I rot and die and be gone, one day I'm going to be raised from the dead, be given a new body, a resurrection body. My skin and all its blemishes are going to be settled and healed and made well. I'm going to have an imperishable body. In my flesh, I shall see God, I shall see for myself. My eyes shall behold and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Now, in Tamil, if you read it, it literally says, “My heart longs for it, and rejoices over it. My heart desires it so much. Is glad about it so much”, literally. That's the sense it gives when you read it in Tamil. My heart yearns for it. It comes here, yearns for it. But then Tamil has a little more addition to it. It says, “Because of the yearning of my heart for it, my gladness, my rejoicing over what is going to happen in the future for me, by way of resurrection of my body when Jesus comes back and stands on this earth. When He's going to raise all the dead and all the graves are going to be opened and I'm going to come alive, my heart yearns for it so much, I'm glad about it so much that I am wearied by it.” That’s how the Tamil puts it. “It wearies me. I'm tired.” It’s a negative way of saying something positive. Like we say, “I laughed so much my stomach is aching.” It's not that you're having a stomach ache. It is something good happening. You are laughing so much that your stomach is saying, “You laugh too much.” Therefore, your stomach is aching. It's like that. He says, I yearn for it so much. I long for it so much. I'm so glad about it. I rejoice over it in the midst of all this mess that's going on. I'm thinking of my perfect future that God has for me. And thinking of it and rejoicing over it makes me literally tired. Because it is so wonderful. It is such a rejoicing.

Look at another experience, David. Go to 2nd Samuel chapter 12. Very interesting story. Remember, David and Bathsheba’s story. Very ugly story. This man takes another man's wife and kills that man. David is a king. That's something terrible. In that illegitimate relationship, a child is born. The child gets very sick, and is at the point of death. And David begins to plead with God, you read that from verse 16. He begins to pray for the child. David fasted and went in and lay all night on the floor, a king. And all the elders in the house come and wake him up and say, “Come on, let's eat. The child is sick, you pray, but come and eat,” they say. But he says, “I will not eat, I will not touch food.” And he lays there. For many days, it goes on. And on the seventh day the child dies. Now everybody's afraid to tell him because he's so uptight about the child, when the child is alive, he is not wanting to eat, he's totally fasting and is crying and he’s praying and so on. So, they thought he may do something desperate if they went and told him that the child is now dead. So, they were talking secretly, all the servants were talking among themselves how to reveal the thing. And David understood something has happened. He comes to the servants and tells them, “What happened? Did the child die?” And they said, “Yes, the child died.”

And look at his amazing response after the child died. Look at this in verse 20. So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Very strange response. All this time he was crying, laying on the floor, would not even put food in his mouth, and won't listen to anybody, won't be comforted, consoled, such grief. And once the child dies, he goes and washes himself. He takes a bath, anoints himself, changes his clothes, and goes to worship. And worships the Lord and comes. Then he went to his own house. When he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

See, these servants are amazing. All this time, they wanted him to come and eat, he wouldn't come. Now he's eating, they should keep quiet. But they're saying, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” “What are you doing? You were crying all this time when the child was sick. But now you're behaving strangely. You rose up and you washed and you did all these things, changed your clothes, went to worship and come back, and you’re eating.” And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? Listen to this. I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

There is the knowledge of the resurrection, that one day he will meet his child. That his child will experience resurrection, that he will experience resurrection. One day, they'll all get together. In America, they used to sing a song, “When we all get together, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.” How true it is. Do you know, one day we're all going to get together, the saints in heaven and saints on earth. This is a real hope. This is something to rejoice about. This will make you wipe away your tears. This will make you get up and eat. This will make you get rid of your sorrow. This will make you overcome your grief. This will make you rejoice.

On the day when Jesus was risen, there you see another experience. The women go there with all the spices. They don't know how to roll the stone. They were thinking probably the stone is rolled over. “How are we going to remove the stone so that we can administer things to the body of Jesus?” They're going there not knowing what has happened. They go there and they found the stone rolled away. And the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene comes and reports to the disciples, “They've taken our Lord somewhere.” She couldn't remember that the resurrection is possible. She said, “They've taken our Lord somewhere.” And we see there are women going there and seeing and they're told that Jesus is risen. They see the empty tomb but they were also informed by the angels there that Jesus is risen. They come back and report to Peter and John and they run over there. And they see that the tomb is empty. Still, it's very hard for them to believe. They're astonished. They don't know what happened. “Did somebody take the body? What happened? We have not seen Him. They say He’s risen but we have not seen Him.”

But then Jesus appears before them. They see Jesus. They have a wonderful experience of Jesus. Now, when the women reported, there were disciples gathered there, and the women came and reported, they have not seen Jesus yet. There were two disciples that left on that day to go to Emmaus. Emmaus is a little village that is eight miles away from Jerusalem. They walked their way to that village. On the way, Jesus joins them and acts like He is somebody. They couldn't recognize him, disguises Himself. And they were very sad. They're talking about everything that has happened. And Jesus inquired, “Why are you sad?” They said, “Well, this is what has happened. Jesus of Nazareth, man anointed by God, used mightily, He has been crucified, He’s dead, and we are sad,” and so on. Then Jesus opens up the scriptures to them and tells them, “Does not the Old Testament say that these things will happen? That the Messiah will come and He will suffer and die?” And so on. They still couldn't see.

They arrived at the village of Emmaus, and He acted like He wanted to depart from them and go away. But they said, “Come, we invite You to come and stay with us and go.” And He goes and stays with them. And when they sit down to eat, He breaks the bread. Their eyes were opened, and they saw that this was Jesus. Just imagine the joy that they would have experienced. You can see it. You got to fill in the gaps here. They walked eight miles, they just sat down to eat. When they saw this was Jesus and He disappeared from their sight, they got up and left and went back all eight miles again. Joy makes you do that. They went back and they found the disciples and they inquired, and there they saw Jesus, and so on,

Thomas was not there. Then again, Jesus visits when Thomas was there. He is the fellow who told, “That I got to see Him with my own eyes, that I got to touch Him and put my hand in that spot and examine Him to see whether this is the same Jesus,” and so on. And lo and behold, Jesus appears again when Thomas was there and said, “Come, I invite you, Thomas. Come and put your hand here. Check Me out.” He says, “O Lord, my God,” and he worships Him there. And in the end, the Bible says, John's Gospel chapter 20 verse 20, the whole thing resulted in what? 20:20 says, When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were glad they saw the Lord. They were glad. This is a matter that made them glad.

Luke chapter 24 verse 51 and 52. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen. This is where all Christian worship began. The Christian worship is a rejoicing worship. It's a celebration of not only the resurrection of our Lord, but our hope of our resurrection, our future, our eternity with Christ. See, that is why there is a personal thing involved here. It is not just that we are celebrating that Jesus is risen, we are celebrating the fact that we also have the hope of resurrection. We don't even fear death. We don't fear this world. We don't fear the devil. We don't fear anything because Jesus is our Lord. He has conquered the death, the hell, and the grave, and the devil and all of these things, and given us victory. And He is going to take us and receive us back to Himself. The Father who received Jesus back from the dead is going to receive us back to Himself so that we’ll live with Him forevermore.

This is the cause of worship. When you know this, you’ll Worship. We always worship very nicely, we sing. That’s why we don't have a big choir. If we have a big choir then everybody become watchers. And all the choir-like angels sing and everybody just becomes spectators. We need a little help in singing so we have people singing with us, but the main thing is, you are the choir. You should sing. One man walked in here, “Boy! In your church, everybody sings, don't they?” I said, “Why are you asking?” They said, “Well, in my place we don't sing, we just stand there and watch until they get through singing.” And I've seen that also. Even in the so-called spiritual places. I've seen people struggle as they lead worship, telling people to raise their hands and clap their hands. I remember when I was little, one man used to say... clapping so softly. “Clap, clap hard,” he will say. And he will try to do everything to make you shout and clap hard and all these things. They could hardly get us to do that because we were not interested. Then finally they'll say, “Everybody said three hallelujahs.” And we said, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.” Just like we were compelled to do that. It didn't come out of us. It was pushed into us. Songs were sung to get us up and going. Wrong concept of worship.

Worship happens when you have put your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And you understand the truth that Jesus died for you. He rose again for you. He has delivered you from sin, He has brought you back to God. You're a child of God, you live for God. And while you live on this earth, you live fearlessly. You don't fear death; you don't fear anything. You don't fear the devil; you don't fear anything. You live for God successfully on this earth. And you live a productive, fruitful, good life on this earth. And when you have to die, you close your eyes with faith, knowing that you will open your eyes in heaven. And even your body will be returned to you, which has gone dust to dust and ashes to ashes and earth to earth. God will raise it up and give it back to you. With a hope knowing that God is a good God, He will not take anything away from you. You give yourself just like Jesus said, “Father into Your hands I commit My spirit.” You give yourself in the hands of God and close your eyes and die. That is the Christian death.

I've seen many Christians die like that. What a wonderful testimony. My grandmother, when she died, I was not here. But she was an amazing person. She is the one who first became a Christian in our home. And she was 83 years old when she died and I was away from the country at the time studying. They said the last thing that she said before she closed her eyes is that she lifted up her hands and said, “Yesu jeyithaar.” That means, “Jesus has won the victory.” And put her hand down and closed her eyes. What a way to die. Jesus has won the victory. That means He has won it for me. Death is not going to defeat me. Death is not the end of my life. That I have a great future in Christ. That I have great hope. With that, they close their eyes, because this becomes very real.

Now, this is what was revealed to Abraham. No wonder he was glad. His whole outlook of life has changed. Meaning of life has changed. Fear is driven out. Joy has come, hope has come, victory has come. That is why Paul understands all of this and he says in 1 Corinthians 15, which is a resurrection chapter, he says, “O death, where is your sting? O grave where is your victory? The sting of death is sin. The power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because He has delivered us from the law, from sin, and we are in Christ, we are victorious. Even death cannot defeat us because we have a great and grand future and an eternity.

So, Christian faith is not just for this life, but it goes on for all eternity. It will change your very outlook of life. You will look at everything differently. Everything will look differently. Your life will look differently. Your approach to life will become different. That is why if you're a true Christian, you’ll live differently because you have this perspective. Amen. Let's all stand together. We'll continue next week. Praise God. Abraham was glad to see this. Are you glad to see this today? Every heart must rejoice today.

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