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Living by Faith (Vol 39) - Abraham: The Test!

Sunday English Service - 19 MAY 19

Transcript

Please turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11. Let me read to you 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. We've been studying Hebrews chapter 11, teaching on the subject of living by faith. And we saw that, from verse 8 to 19, in this great chapter, where heroes of faith are mentioned, is a big section about Abraham, because he is the father of all those who believe. It is from him we learn to walk in faith, it is from his life that God has set forth as our model, we begin to learn the life of faith. So, there is this big section. And I told you that this big section is a summary of the story of Abraham, as we read it in Genesis chapter 12, to for the next 15 chapters. The story of Abraham goes on in all those many chapters.

But the author of the book of Hebrews shortens it and gives us a summary of the whole thing. What is necessary for us right now, as New Testament Christians to learn life of faith is given here. I told you already that this author of the book of Hebrews sees it as four stages of Abraham's faith. That's the way he looks at it. And so, I've been covering that. The first stage is the stage called the calling, where Abraham lives in a place and a condition where he does not know God, worshipping the gods whom his forefathers worshiped, not knowing the true and living God. And one day, God appears to him. “The God of glory appeared to our father, Abraham,” Stephen says. Appears to him and calls him. And Abraham leaves the country, as well as his people and embarks on a journey to go to a new place and begins a new life. Leaves the past, leaves his past way of worship, leaves his practices, leaves his tradition, leaves all of those things that have been dear to him, even the people of his community and comes and embarks on a new life, more than 1,000 miles away in the land that God showed him. So that's the call.

And I told you that, that's very much in line with what we experience also in our life. The first thing that happens to us is our encounter with God. Many of us know how we did not know God, even when we were born in Christian homes, sometimes we simply followed a religious program, and went to church and so on, but did not know God personally. We were just as heathen as anybody. But something happened to us. We got born again. Something remarkable took place, we met Jesus Christ. And we knew that He was the living God. And we changed our ways. And we left our former life of sin, and all those things that we were involved in to embark on a new life as new creation. So, the call happens even today. The God of Abraham is still at work calling people to salvation. The God who appeared to Abraham is still meeting people today, calling them, inviting them to follow Him. And people are making decisions to follow Jesus even these days. It is still happening the first stage.

The second stage is where he goes and lives in the land to which God calls him. And he lives there in tents, the Bible says, and he experiences something wonderful about God there. He learns that God is his source of his provision as well as protection. In the midst of famine, God literally prospers him, where he's made rich. He learned something about God, that God is not only a savior, God not only saves him from the ignorance of not knowing God and living in a vacuum, not understanding God and having a relationship with God, brings him into a relationship with God, at His salvation. God is not only a God of salvation, the God of Abraham is a God who meets our needs. This is something that we have also experienced, and some of us have had some wonderful experiences of how God has supplied our needs in the time of our financial needs, and troubles, and so on. And we have also seen how God has protected us, delivered our enemies in our hands. The things that came up against us, did not succeed, but we succeeded by the grace of God because God is there with us in this world. He’s interested in our success, interested in us making in this world.

The third stage is a stage where Abraham experiences God as the God of the impossible. We talked about that, how when he was 99 years old, his wife was 90 years old. The whole world says it’s impossible. “His body was as good as dead,” the Bible says and, “Sarah’s womb was dead,” the Bible says. God took a man whose body was as good as dead, and the woman whose womb was dead, and brought them together and made descendants like the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea. Amazing. God is the God of the impossible. Gave them a child. Began with Isaac and then still it is in the process of being fulfilled. That promise is being fulfilled, even today, and it will be fulfilled all the way till we all get to heaven. So, that’s the third stage, that Abraham experiences that God is the God of the impossible. And I believe that all of us need to have these experiences. Experience God’s miracle in our lives, God turning our impossibilities to possibilities. We must get a good taste of that because faith is something that brings all these things about. Faith is a tremendous spiritual power that turns our life around, makes things that are impossible possible. And Abraham experiences these things that faith could do. He understands faith in newer and newer dimensions.

But now we’re going to look at the fourth stage. And the fourth stage is a stage that I just read about in verse 17 to 19, where Abraham was tested. And when he was tested, he offered up Isaac, the Bible says, so that he who received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Concluding that God is able to even raise him up from the dead. This is an amazing statement. And this is an amazing test that Abraham goes through. And as you know, the story of Abraham is found in Genesis chapter 12 onwards, goes on for many chapters. And this part of the story where Abraham is asked to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, is given to us in chapter 22 of Genesis. So, you may turn to that, from verse 1 to 18, we have the story. And I’m not going to read all the 18 verses now because we’re going to spend two or three weeks in it. And I'm going to read only as much as we want to cover today.

Genesis chapter 22, this great story of Abraham offering of his son is given us there. Chapter 22 verse 1. 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.” I'm only going to deal with that much today.

Here, the verse begins like this, it came to pass after these things. That is very important part of the passage there, after these things. After these things means that Abraham has experienced a lot, gone through a lot, tasted God and seen how good He is. He's been walking with God for many years now. By the time he had the child, Isaac, the promised child, he was already 25 years in a relationship with God. Now, more years have passed by. And Isaac has now become a teenager. And now he's been walking with God for about 35 years and more. And so, he has had good knowledge of God.

Just imagine yourself. Some of you have been walking with the Lord for 30, 40 years. What a great opportunity to learn so much about God. Some of us have not wasted any time and we learnt more and more and more. We began somewhere with total lack of knowledge about God. We met God and from that day, for the last 30, 40 years, we have learned more and more about God. We're able to appreciate God's promises, believe God better, trust in God. We’ve become very close and intimate with God. So, I want you to know that Abraham has now come to that kind of a level in his life. He knows God really. He’s enjoyed God's blessings. He’s tasted and seen that God is a good God. He knows that God is a holy God, righteous God, He never lies, that whatever He said, He is able to fulfill in terms of promises. He believes God. He’s a great-faith man. He’s grown to be a great-faith man.

So that's Abraham, there. Many years of walking with God. He has been known as the friend of God. Remember when God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, God said, “I got to tell my friend, because I got only one friend in this world, Abraham. I can't do anything without telling him in this world. If I'm going to carry on some operation in this world, I got to inform my friend.” So close, God felt with Abraham that He wanted to disclose to Abraham whatever He was going to do. So, he's become a good friend of God, walked in a great relationship with God. And this happens right at the time, something very amazing this is. And you don't every day read a story like this. And a lot of questions are raised about these stories. So, I want to really in the beginning of this series, on this part of the fourth stage, I want to deal with some of the doubts and questions and confusions that exist about this story.

Because here, God tested Abraham, it says. In Tamil, the word ‘sothithaar’ is used. Now people have taken it very far. God tested Abraham means to them a lot of things and people have taken it too far, and have said things that are not true about God. A lot of the wrong opinions about God has been spread about in the Christian world. And in the world, in general, through this story, God has been terribly misunderstood because of this. The first misunderstanding is about how God tests with terrible tests, that God, some people believe sometimes will take away, what is very dear and near to you, what is very precious to you. Because that's the only way you can really grow up, only way He can cause you to grow spiritually. Therefore, He will just come and snatch away the thing that you consider very dear and near because He doesn't want you to be enjoying all that good stuff, you having too much and you having everything that you wanted, and enjoying it. So, He just snatches it away so that they say you will begin to trust in Him more, rely on Him more, and so on. Many stories are built like that.

And you ask them, “How do you say things like this, that God tests you and snatches things away from you?” They say, “God, remember, asked Abraham for his son, who knows, maybe he'll ask you for your son. Maybe He'll ask you for something that you've got. God will take away things that you consider dear and near.” I come from a background where I heard a lot of these things. And I tell you, it really rattled me. I used to have a lot of questions about God. I’d say, “My God, what kind of God is this? The guy waited for 25 years to have a child. Poor man. At hundred years of age, he has a child and then God snatches it away from him.” But then I found out it's always better to read the Bible for yourself. I read it, but we read it very fast. We were Pentecostal people. We were doing it all like speed train, we don't stop anywhere. We just keep going very fast. We were full of the Spirit. And we just read it fast, never cared to understand. We thought we have read it. We read so many chapters. And so, I never really gave thought to it. When preachers preached, I always wondered, “My God, God asked Abraham for his child, his only child that he had, that precious child that he got after so many years of waiting? Terrible. That's a terrible God. I don't know if I want to follow that God,” I thought.

But then I read the Bible and I found out one truth that God never snatched Abraham's child from him. That you will learn if you read just as far as 18 verses. If you read just the two verses it will sound horrible. What God is saying is horrible. “Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love and go to the land Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” As you read it, you shudder, you can say, “My God. How can God ever do something like this? Take your only son, your beloved son, the son whom you love, take him to that mountain, offer him as a burnt offering, burn him down to ashes, He’s saying. Not only just kill him as a sacrifice, burn him down to ashes. What a horrible thing for God to ask.” I always thought but then I found it never happened.

The good news is it never happened, my friend. Always remember that, it never happened. If it never happened, the question then is why did God say things like this? If it never happened why did God say, “Take your son, your only son, your beloved son. Go to that mountain I'll show you and the sacrifice him and burn him down to ashes”? Why did He say that if it never happened, and if it was never meant to happen? See, we are very fortunate today because we read these things and we can easily understand today. Now, I don't know how people misunderstand this. We can easily understand today because we are looking at it after the fact.

Remember when things happen in your life, people say, “Oh, see, that's what you should have done in the first place.” You say, “Good news, man. Nobody told me before, because nobody knew before.” Beforehand, you don't know, after the fact you know. You see that this is the right way to do it after the fact. So, we are after the fact now, we are living after all of these things are over. And now we know the full meaning we can understand it very thoroughly. Therefore, we're very fortunate, blessed people. We can easily understand and get rid of all the misconception today.

So, why did God tell Abraham to take his son, his only son, the son whom he loved, and take him to that mountain and kill him and burn him as a sacrifice? Why did God tell him that if He if it was never meant to happen and it never happened? Why did God tell him that? He told him that because God wanted him to take his son up there, go there and really attempt to do that. God knew that he was going to stop him, He was ready. He stopped him right in time. There was not even a scratch on Isaac. God knew what He was planning all the time. God knew what He was doing. But nevertheless, He told him to come there and do it. Why? Because God wanted to give Abraham a tremendous revelation about Jesus Christ, His Son, whom this wonderful Father God is going to one day in that mountain sacrifice for all mankind. How would you give that revelation like that? How would you convey that plan? How would you tell Abraham in that day and age where there was no Bible, no church, no teaching? Abraham didn't even have people he can fellowship with probably, that knew the things of God. How would you take a man and tell him this wonderful mystery of this redemption that God has planned and kept from long before the world began? How do you reveal to him the cross of Calvary, the death of Jesus on the cross, how the Father will sacrifice His own son? He will not spare His own Son, but deliver Him up for us all. How God will do that? How can God convey this story?

God said, “I'm going to do it this way. I'm going tell Abraham to take his son, then only he’ll understand that. I'm going to tell Abraham to do the unthinkable, unimaginable, the incredible. I'm going to tell Abraham to take his only son because that's his only son.” See, that is where all these descriptions come. And I'll get to that in a minute. So, one objection is that God sometimes will take away from us what we love most, in order to make us grow up in faith and so on. No. God is in the business of giving. God is not in the business of snatching away. The devil is the thief, God is not the thief. The devil robs you of the blessings, the devil robs you of the good things of life. God is the giver of the good things of life. This is a very basic fact.

That's why when I first started a television program, and so on, I named my program as ‘God is Good’. And that's a very strange name. That sounds more like a statement doesn't look like a title. So, one man asked me, “What is this?” I said, “It means God is good.” “So, what is that?” I said, “God is good.” People are not used to saying that but I found a great preacher in America saying that God is good. It was so appealing to me; it was something very new to me. Whenever he opened his mouth and said, “God is good,” it really touched the depth of my heart because all my life I never heard people repeat that so much and really believe in that way. We're ready to believe all kinds of things about God. When you say, “God is good,” a lot of Christians in my day said, “Well, He's good, but you better watch out. He could be also terrible sometimes.” And they had verses on the opposite side also. So, nobody really went around saying God is good. It just stayed as a Sunday school song. That's all. After that, it never got to the pulpit. Nobody really preached about God is good, how good He is, and so on. That never became a subject. If preaching was done, it was always warning people that God is going to bring down hellfire on you, or throw you in hellfire. And do this to you and that to you, and so on.

Even the other day I was eating and somebody said, “Please look at this, take a look at this video.” And here this preacher was mad that somebody has walked in the church with shoes. I don't know who he is talking about. But he's mad that somebody walked in the church with the shoes. And he says, “How can you do it?” He's just rolling his eyes and biting his teeth. “How can you do it? Take off your shoes. If you don't take it off, God is going to make sure it comes off in the hospital when they take off your leg.” It’s exactly what he said. I felt terrible. Even the food I could not swallow. You’ve got to watch out what you're listening to when you're eating. It spoils your whole lunch. I said, “My God, man. What kind of spirit is this?” This is the guy like the disciples of Jesus who said to Jesus one time, in Samaria when the people didn't want to give a room to Jesus to stay. They said to Jesus, “Let's do what Elijah did. Bring fire down from heaven and show these Samaritans who we are. You're such a great prophet, and such a powerful person, let's bring fire down from heaven.” And Jesus said, “What kind of spirit is that?” They're not fit to be in ministry. They're not fit to be with Jesus. So, I'm not surprised that this man was saying like this, because even the disciples of Jesus were of that mind. That we should bring fire down and show who we are.

I thought immediately, if for all small things, hands and legs were removed, today itself, none of us will have anything. We will not have both legs, both hands. I don't know what will be left. I don't think we’ll ever be alive. If God started doing things like that, if he started showing His power. See, power can be a terrible thing. Thank God. That's why God has not given all the power to these preachers because they won't wait for God to take off your legs, they'll take it off. God is a patient God; God is a long-suffering God. He's really powerful. You see the really powerful people, they're very long-suffering people. They're very patient people. They exercise a lot of patience. They have gentleness as quality. They're very thoughtful people, very compassionate people. They are concerned about the welfare of others and so on.

Power is dangerous in the hands of people that don't have love. That is why the Bible always puts love and power together. I don't want to go off into other things. You know the Bible says, “Wives be subject to your husbands in everything, as unto the Lord,” which verse most women don't like to hear. But don't worry. Men are very happy about that verse. One fellow came and told me, “Tell my wife, what Ephesians 5:24 says. She must know that. Submit herself to the husband in everything, in all things, as unto the Lord.” I said, “Brother, I'll tell you verse 25. Leave 24, let's see verse 25 says. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” He didn't like that. God knew the Holy Spirit was inspiring Paul to write and he’s writing, “Wives submit yourselves.”

It's like a cricket team, you got to have a captain. It doesn't mean that the captain is the master over some slaves of 11 people playing under him or anything like that. No. There are some players who are better players playing under the captain. When you join the team, you enter the agreement that you will play under him, and listen to him. That's how you enter, that’s the agreement. If you say, “I can't play under this captain,” you can't play in the team. That’s the team’s framework. That's the way a team is set up. Have you ever seen a team without captain? Doesn't exist.

So, in the house, God has set up certain order. It’s doesn't mean that God is putting down women or giving some kind of a Hitler kind of authority to men. Because some men have decided to be Hitlers we find a lot of women Hitlers also today. Because when men stand up to be Hitlers, women won't leave it all to them, and resign themselves to their fate. They will also take their rights and begin to stand up as Hitlers in the house. Then you have two Hitlers in one house. Boy, that's a house in trouble. It’s going to burn.

But look at how God puts power and love together always. 2nd Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power.” And then immediately, the next word is love, and sound mind. So, God never gives power without giving love. When a person does not have love, he has no right to have any power. Because power without love is dangerous. You can burn up a place if you get mad. If you got power, you got to have love. That's why Galatians 5:6 says, “Faith worketh by love.” It's like a check valve that God has kept. It just won't work.

I remember one time two preachers were fighting. They were just getting ready for a meeting. In those days, you're not supposed to put your picture. Got to be very humble. You cannot put your picture on the handbill, nothing. Just say, “Man of God.” We will mysterious, which man of God is going to speak and all that. Leave it like that because you can't be proud to put your picture. So, this man wore a tie, suit and everything and took a picture and put it in the handbill. An older preacher saw it and he got really mad. The guy who's going to be the speaker was sitting there and I was also sitting there waiting for the meeting to start and the old preacher arrived. He was sitting in another room. And people have told this young preacher who put his picture that this man really cursed him out when these young boys were distributing handbills. “This preacher stopped them and asked, ‘How can he do this? What kind of preacher is he? He puts his pictures and so on.’ And he has used some  very strong words of criticism.”

So, this man got mad and started arguing with him and both arguments started and it was getting heated up and I was 16 years old. I was standing right in the middle. And said, “Wait a minute!” All of a sudden, this younger preacher, when the argument went too far, he said, “In Jesus’ name, I curse you,” he said. I was just a young fellow; I didn't know anything. I'll just play accordion and sing. And that older preacher, you should have seen, he started shaking because he believed this younger guy, he was casting out devils, he was doing miracles and all that. So, the guy believed that if he cursed, he’s finished. So, he started shaking. And that guy is known to me. My father was a preacher, he knew all these older people. So, I knew the guy. So, I went to him and said, “Uncle, don't worry, nothing is going to happen. Just because he said that, nothing is going to happen. Don't worry, uncle.” But he's just shaking and sweating and perspiring. And he just couldn't take it because he thought something bad is going to happen. I didn't know the Bible. I didn't know like today from the Bible nothing will happen. I just told him to console him, nothing will happen. Only later on, I found out nothing will happen because check valve is working.

Power is not given for you to curse people. Power is not given to you to destroy people. Power is not given to you, so that you may speak words and kill people. Power is not given to you like that. Power is given to do good. Power is given to speak words of healing and deliverance. Power is given to you so that you may exercise it for the welfare of others. Never, never will it work without love. I don't know why I got into this a little bit more than what I wanted to. But the thing is this, a lot of people say, “Well, how can God be a God like this? He’s asking Abraham for his son.”

Second objection is, they say, “How can God ask for a human sacrifice? What kind of God is this asking for a human sacrifice? What kind of Bible is this?” Critics of the Bible will say, “Read chapter 22 of Genesis verse 2. God is asking Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice, kill him and burn him. What kind of a God you've got? What kind of God do you believe in?” This is another criticism.

The thing is these people have read the just one verse, two verses like that, but not read the whole Bible, not understood the Bible in context and so on. If you read a little more, you'll find out that it never happened. So, there must have been some other purpose for saying so. Right? That's the point I'm bringing out. But other than that, if you just read the Bible, if you come to the book of Ezekiel chapter 16, don't turn to it. You can read it later on. God reprimands the people of God. The people of Israel have backslidden, gone back to worshipping idols. And they started offering their children as sacrifices at one point. So, degenerate they became. And God scolds them and says, “The children you bore for Me, how can you offer up to idols?” Why did He say, “The children you bore for Me?” How did the nation of Israel come about? It started with one man who never had a child. Abraham was the father of the Israeli nation. One man who never had a child until he was 100 years old and his wife was 90 years old, and God gave them children and made them a great nation. God helped them to produce children. God multiplied them.

In Pharaoh's days, Pharaoh tried to kill all the Jewish males in Egypt. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied by the power of God. God was making it happen. They were bearing children because of the blessing of God. Having children is a blessing of God. And God is saying, “I gave you the children. These children belong to Me. I have a great purpose for them. Because out of the nation of Israel, out to the children of Abraham, is going to come the Messiah, Jesus, as the son of Abraham. How can you take children born in the Israeli home and offer them as sacrifice to idols? Because I have such a holy purpose for them.” That's why He is reprimanding them. So, Bible is not for child sacrifices. And God is not here asking for child sacrifice. It never happened and the Bible never promotes it. Bible is against it. God speaks openly and plainly against it. If you read the Bible, you’ll know. So, all these objections are just a waste of time.

The third objection they say is, “How can God ask a father to kill a son, and thus act against human nature, which God Himself has given to man?” God has not only given this human nature to man, that a father must love the child. That comes naturally. It's a natural affection every father has for the child. The father will give his life so that the son may live. I think this video went viral online of a mother deer giving its life for the little ones. They cannot run and they cannot escape the wild animals that are trying to chase them down. So, the mother stops and gives herself as a prey to those wild animals. And as the wild animals snatch her, she watches with joy her little ones running away to life. That picture won the greatest video of the year or something like that, and won a lot of money, I think. Amazing heart-rending video.

Even an animal God has put the quality where there is affection for the children. People say, “How can you have stories like this in the Bible? This is very offensive. Your God, you say He’s a good God, your God you say is a true God, Living God. How can this God expect Abraham, a father, who waited for so long to have a child, he doesn't have dozen children, he has only one, -how can He ask him to take the child and offer him as a sacrifice? It is against human nature. God is asking him to go against the nature which He has Himself bestowed upon him as a man. How can God do that?” Again, the answer is, God never did that. God was never expecting Abraham to kill his son. God was never expecting to take Abraham's child away. God was not planning on that. This story is about something different.

“Then why did God ask something like this? Tell Abraham to bring his child and offer him as a sacrifice?” Like I said, because God wanted to give a revelation of the redemption, revelation of the cross of Calvary, where God the Father will give His Son. How to convey of this? God says, “This is the best way to convey it. I'm going to ask Abraham to really feel it. Feel the pain, experience the agony so that he will know and get a revelation. That is why in 8th chapter of John verse 56 Jesus stood before the Jews and said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day. And he saw Me and he rejoiced in it. He was eager to see My day. And he rejoiced in it having seen. Not only did the father Abraham want to see my day, he saw My day, he saw the cross, he saw the resurrection,” He means. “He saw Me. He saw what I will do as a Redeemer. He saw My day and rejoiced in it.” It was very offensive to the Jews. They thought, “He’s not even 50 years old. He says, ‘Abraham, our forefather, who lived hundreds of years ago, was eager to see Him. And that he rejoiced in seeing that.’ How can that be?” They said. That's the moment which triggered in them the hatred for Jesus that resulted on the cross of Calvary, where Jesus was killed there.

So, God never planned to take Abraham's son, get rid of that idea from your mind. God was never into human sacrifices, get that idea out of your mind. God was never into man murdering his own son. God is never into that. But God was asking Abraham to do it without planning on him to do it. Abraham didn't know that. He was going to do it anyway. God wanted the father to feel what it is to offer the son, so that he will see the heart of love of God, so that he will feel and know what God felt like when He gave Jesus, so that he will know how great God's love is. To reveal that, this was necessary. And I'll show you. I’ll prove it to you.

Go back to Genesis 22 and let's read it again. It came to pass after these things, God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Now listen. 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 the mountains of which I shall tell you.” He says, “Take now your son.” Now Abraham was a wealthy man, he had a lot of sheep, lot of cattle. If God told him bring me 1,000 sheep and offer it as a sacrifice, Abraham would have been more than glad to do that. It was nothing to him. The land was not enough to hold his cattle. That’s how many cattle he had. He would have brought 1,000 sheep, if God wanted him to give them as sacrifice. Abraham had a lot of silver and gold, he would have given bags and bags of silver and gold if God said, “Abraham, go bring me a good offering of silver and gold and give it to Me.” He would have been very glad to do that. Even if God wanted a human sacrifice, if God said, “Abraham, you got so many slaves with you, you have so many people working for you like Eliezer. Bring one of them and sacrifice.” Abraham would have been glad to do it.

But God is very particular what a sacrifice should be. He says, “Bring Me your son.” Why? Because He's trying to convey a message that God the Father is going to give His Son. There is no other way this message can be portrayed and made alive to Abraham without asking for his son. Tell me which other way is possible. No other sacrifice, whatever God can ask cannot equal the son being offered. So, God says, “Bring Me your son.” Why? Because God’s saying, “That's the only way I can tell you what I'm going to do. Bring Me your son. Listen, trust Me, bring Me your son,” He says. And then He doesn't leave it at that. Look at verse 2. We're going to take it apart word by word. “Take now your son,” and then He says, “your only son.” Now wait a minute. Take now your son is bad enough. If God is asking you to offer your son as sacrifice, you don't want Him to go on describing your son. Your only son. You know already that's your only son. Abraham knew that was his only son. He had another son Ishmael through another woman but you remember they have been already sent away because they could not coexist.

Sarah and Hagar could not co-exist and therefore the boy and the mother were sent away. So, he's no more there. Isaac was the only son. So, He didn’t need to tell in this way. But God describes him as the only son. The word ‘only’ is very important because God wanted to convey the news that God is going to give His only Son. Isaac was Abraham’s only son. If Isaac the son dies, there can be no replacement. Not when you are more than 100 years old and when your wife is past that age also. No replacement. This is a chapter real close.? No one will succeed him. But God deliberately uses this painful description. “Bring your son, your only son,” He says. He doesn't stop there. God says, “Bring your only son Isaac.” Well, He doesn't have to go on and on like this. If you're going to tell something like this, quickly tell it and tell the guy to do it and just shut up. Don't go on describing. The guy is already in pain. You’re telling him to come and bring his son and give him as a sacrifice. Why do you want to describe him in great details? You’ve said son, you’ve said only son, do you have to mention Isaac?

God mentions Isaac. You know why? Because in Isaac rested all the promises of God. It is through Isaac Jesus will be born. It is from Isaac everything will spring up. The salvation of mankind will come from Isaac. You cancel Isaac, you strike off Isaac, you kill Isaac, you will have nothing. We will not be sitting here, we will not have a church because we will not have a salvation, because we will not have Jesus, we will not have the cross, we will not have the resurrection, we will have nothing to celebrate, nothing to sing about, nothing to be joyful about. We’ll all be lost somewhere out in the world in darkness. In Isaac rested the entire promise of God. Our salvation depended on Isaac. Jesus' birth depended upon Isaac. The redemptive work on the cross depended upon Isaac living. Our salvation depended upon Isaac. Our future home, heaven, it is dependent upon Isaac. All of this is part of the one package that God has planned. It's all part of that.

So, God says Isaac. Everything is centered on Isaac. If Isaac is gone, then all the covenant of God will have... God’s covenant is an irrevocable covenant. It cannot be cancelled; it cannot go to waste. After God giving the covenant, it cannot go to nothing. It has to be fulfilled. But if Isaac is gone, covenant will be gone. And then God goes on still. He says, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love,” He says. Now, that's like really pricking him. Whom you love. Is God a sadist? Is God trying to cause more pain to this man who's already in great pain? Does He have to say, “The son whom you love”? How painful it is to hear those words. Should God say that? Why was He saying that? Because Jesus was God's beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased. And Isaac, I tell you was a beloved son of Abraham.

Because, you remember when he takes him up to the mountain to kill him as a sacrifice, he leaves the servants at the foothills. And just a father and son walk up the mountain. And somehow Abraham must have disclosed what God had told him to do and what he's going to do. I can't imagine Abraham getting up there and all of a sudden, this old man surprising this young man and nailing him down, pinning him down, and tying him down and killing him. It won't be possible. That young fellow would’ve run off. He would have rolled this old man from up the hill to escape. It seemed like to me that Isaac, by the time he got up to the top of the mountain, knew what was going to happen, what his father was going to do. And fully in agreement with the father, trusted the father, loved the father, was the true son of the father, and was ready to do whatever the father was asking him to do. He was a beloved son. He was ready to do the will of the father. All of these things were needed. All of these elements were needed. That is why these words were needed in order to project that message.

Isaac really gave himself to die. Jesus said, “No man can take My life from Me. I give My life. And I will take it whenever I want to.” All of this had to be portrayed, it has to be a perfect picture so that later on Jesus could say, “Your father Abraham saw and rejoiced.” He understood a whole lot more than what we think he understood. He saw a wonderful picture of what God was going to do when he gives his own son Isaac. And not only that, doesn't end there. He goes on and says that he must be sacrificed by the father himself. Abraham had thousands of people working for him. He could have told Abraham, “Take your son and give him to one of your servants, like Eliezer. Send him up the mountain, tell him to kill him and burn him and come and report to you.” The job would have been easier. But God says, “You take him. You go up the mountain, you kill. You be the priest. You carry the knife. You put that knife through his heart. You kill him. You shed the blood just like a sacrificial lamb dies as a result of the priest cutting and shedding its blood. You stand there as he bleeds and dies and you then burn him as a burnt offering.” And people say, “Horrible, horrible God.”

God said all of this knowing that he's not going to do that like that. But Abraham thought, “It's really going to happen.” “You do it.” Why God decided to do it like that? Because, in order to convey the picture of how the Father is going to really execute the Son, the Father is going to sacrifice His Son and offer Him at the altar of the cross of Calvary as a sacrifice, all of these details were necessary. That is why Abraham, the father himself, had to do that incredible task, was told to do that task. The trial of Abraham was so severe. God says, “You do it.” Because there was no other way to foretell how God will sacrifice His Son on the cross of Calvary.

You know who killed Jesus? Now, the Bible says in Acts chapter 2, Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, remember the first sermon he gives to the Jews that were gathered on the day of Pentecost? In chapter 2 of the book of Acts, Peter says this, in verse 22. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.” He says, “You have taken Him,” that is, “You caught Him.” You caught Jesus, you accused Him. You caught Him, you put Him before Pilate, you said, “Crucify Him.”

“You have taken,” he says, “and by lawless hands,” Who’s he talking about there? He's talking about the lawless hands meant the Gentiles, the Roman soldiers. See, the Jews considered all the Gentiles as lawless people because they didn't have the Ten Commandments, they are lawless, there without a law. These people had the Ten Commandments. So, they were very proud that they are the covenant people of God. So, he said, “The covenant people caught Him, the lawless people crucified Him.” It is true, the Jews caught Him and gave Him into the hands of the Roman government. And the Roman government only had the authority to kill and execute. And the Roman soldiers put Him to the cross and nailed Him to the cross.

But it is not the Jews that killed Him literally, by catching him and handing them over, it is not the Romans who nailed nails and stuck that spear on His side that killed Jesus. Look at what Peter says, “Even though you took Him and they crucified Him, all this happened by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.” All of this would not have happened if God had not planned and purposed, and foreknew all of these things, and planned all these things. So, the great Master orchestrator of these things is God. It is because God willed it and wanted it and planned and purposed it, this happened. Otherwise, you could not have taken Him, you could not have crucified Him. Romans could not have done it because He had more power than the Romans. Jews could not have caught Him because He had more power than the Jews. It happened because of the predetermined purpose of God and the foreknowledge of God. It is God who willed and drew the map and scheduled that event and made it happen. And Romans 8:32 puts it beautifully.

Paul puts it like this. “God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.” It is plainly saying that God is the one that put Jesus on the cross and killed Him there. That is why God told Abraham to go up and kill him. Because, how do you convey the message that Jesus is going to be a sacrifice killed by the Father God Himself? A lot of people take exception to the cross of Calvary and the death of Jesus. They say, “This Father killed His own Son. How is He going to save you? This Father was merciless towards His Son. His Son cried out saying, ‘My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?’ And He didn't even turn to look at Him, let Him die on the cross. When you cry out to Him, will He listen? When you pray, will He listen? Will He answer? How can this God save you?” The heathen people say that, people that don't know God.

I tell you - God did that because to His own loss, He was ready. But He was not ready to lose us. He loved us. Because of His love for us, He was ready to lose His Son. He knew He was able to raise His Son from the dead. He didn't want us to put through the suffering. He didn't want to inflict the punishment upon us. He did not want to put the death, which is the punishment of sin upon us, because we cannot bear it. He put it on His own Son who was sinless, so that we can go free. If God can give that nature to that little deer to enjoy its little ones running away, escaping to life while the mother herself dies, what do you think God was doing there? God looked at Jesus dying on the cross of Calvary and He knew that millions and millions and millions of people will be able to come to Him and call Him Father in the days ahead. All of this revelation was given.

In addition to that, God says, “Go to that mountain.” Not only he must go, but he must go up to the mountain which God will show him and do it there. That's what the verse says. The mountain was three-days’ journey away. Already killing his son is a big deal. Why do you want to torture the man for three more days? Where he has to walk with his son and journey through the whole journey, experience the pain and the suffering of seeing that son walking right next to you talking to you innocently and you are taking him up that hill to kill him, knowing very well that you're going to kill him? Why did God give Abraham that experience? Because without that experience cross and the death of Jesus on the cross, the Father giving the Son as a sacrifice cannot be portrayed rightly.

Because God sent His Son into this world. His son came into this world but the world received Him not. The God who made the world came into the world; the world received Him not. The Father didn't kill the world that didn't receive Him. The Father put up with it. The Father saw the Son living in this world, humbled Himself, take on the form of a man and come into this world and live in this world, and suffer. But they spit upon Him, beat Him, laughed at Him, ridiculed Him, and finally put Him on the cross and died. People screaming, “Save yourself if you're the Son of God.” The Father went through all of that. Imagine the pain of His heart. The father with one word could have destroyed every enemy that put Jesus on the cross of Calvary. But He couldn't do that because He wanted to save us. Jesus could have done it; He didn't do that because He wanted to die for us. He was willing, the Son was willing and the Father had planned it and purposed it. The Father went through a great pain and suffering seeing His Son come into this world and suffer and die and give His life.

“You must go through the journey.” Abraham must travel three days. He must get a sense of what God would have felt when He sent His Son into the world, knowing very well that He has sent Him to die here in this world. At least for three days he must feel that pain so that he will get the message that he'll be able to convey to his children. See, that is why I noticed none of his children ever left to go back to Mesopotamia. They had no attachment to their former native place. They never saw their native place as their own. Because of this kind of revelation that was given to Abraham. And Abraham conveyed it to Isaac and Jacob and the generations to come. They were forward looking. They lived in tents and they were looking for a city which God Himself has built and prepared for them. They were looking for that life that God had for them and not settling for anything less than that.

So, God had to do all of these things. That is why that verse goes like that. Now, if you read it, you'll understand perfectly. “Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love.” See, everything we explained. “And go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering. You go, you offer on one of the mountains, which I shall tell you,” because God took Jesus on the Mount of Golgotha, He offered him as a sacrifice and God wanted Abraham to get a picture of what He was going to do for mankind. That is exactly what was happening there.

Amazing that Abraham, not having the hindsight like we have today. We're looking back so we can easily understand these things, explain these things. It's very easy for me to explain this. But just imagine Abraham, He didn't know head or tail about anything. He had to trust God just like Jesus trusted God. He had to trust God and do what God had told him to do and be ready to carry out the thing. He had to trust God. See, when Jesus died on the cross, He trusted God. He closed His eyes knowing that God will raise Him up on the third day, knowing that He had that guarantee that God will not let Him go dust to dust, that God will raise Him up. He believed in God so much. So, God needed a man who had faith, that will believe. People say, “How can Abraham do that?” Hebrews 11 says, “By faith Abraham offered his son Isaac when he was tested. By faith he did it,” he says.

‘By faith’ is the most important word in Hebrews 11. How did Abraham offer his own son Isaac? By faith. What is faith? I've been telling you that, that when Abraham and Sarah were about to have child, Romans chapter 4 says that, “Abraham did not become weak in faith.” Then what did he do? It says, “He became strengthened in faith.” How? It says, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith giving glory to God, being fully convinced that what God had promised He was able to perform.” He was fully convinced that God was able. Everybody say, he was fully convinced that God was able.

You know what faith is? See, Abraham, if he looked at his wife, he would have been greatly discouraged because she's old. Looked at himself he would have been even more discouraged, he’s older than her. If he looked at the promise, he’d have been terribly disheartened because the promise is too much. Stars of the sky, this and that. He doesn't even have one child, who will believe? So, he neither looked at his wife and himself nor the promises. He got the right idea. He looked at the Promiser. That's what we've been centering on, the Promiser. Who is He? Is He good? Is He faithful? Is He holy? Is He righteous? Will He lie? Will He speak the truth? Will He do what He says? He looked at the Promiser and by looking at the Promiser and meditating upon the Promiser and His character, His goodness, faithfulness, and His power to be able to do what He says. He's not a weak God. He doesn't simply say something but cannot do. He's not a politician who has good wishes, and just says a lot of promises, but cannot do anything. When it comes to reality, God is God Almighty God. So, I say to you that Abraham meditated on the attributes of God, particularly the almighty nature of God. That God is omnipotent God, for whom nothing is impossible. That He's able to do what He has promised. And the more he meditated on it, the more he believed that God is able to do.

And what did Sarah do? Hebrews 11:12 says this. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude— innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. No, verse 11. By faith Sarah herself also received strength. How did Sarah receive strength? To conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age. How did that happen? Because, it says, she judged Him faithful who had promised. The husband is meditating on how God is powerful, He's able to do what He has promised. The wife, the old lady is meditating on the fact that the one who promised is good, the one who promised is faithful, is the right word. He’s faithful. Everybody say, God is faithful. God is able. These two things became the center of their meditation. “God is able,” the husband says. The wife says, “God is faithful.” They’re meditating on the ability of God and the faithfulness of God, the power of God, and the goodness of God, the faithfulness of God. The more they looked into it...

Now, it's easy to meditate, you can go to all the stories of the Bible, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, everybody you can take. That's why the Bible is given. Read the faithfulness of God. Read about the all mighty power of God. Read the miracles of God. Read the wonders of God. Begin to speak what God has done in these instances. Don’t lament about your problem. Don't speak all the time about what you're going through. Don't concentrate on your problem. Don't even concentrate on the promise because promise seems unbelievable when you're in a problem. Concentrate on the Promiser. That He is mighty to do what He has promised, and He is faithful and He will do what He has promised because He's faithful. You concentrate on that and I will tell you, you will come out in flying colors. You will have success. You will have faith to move mountains.

Look how big a book we've got to meditate. That's why Psalmist said, “The meditation of Your word is such a delight to me,” he says. Because the more you meditate, the more you keep going up in faith. You become enlarged in your heart. You begin to believe the incredible promises of God and you begin to realize them in your life.

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