Promises

Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac- Genesis 22:1-19

Theme: God keeps His promises.

Introduction:

Does God keep His promises? Yes.

Sometimes it’s hard for us to keep promises. Can you think of a time when you promised something and then you didn’t do it? (Ask for suggestions.)

God is different. When God makes a promise, He keeps it. Why? Because He is Truth. God cannot break a promise.

God made a promise to Abraham in the Old Testament. Do you know what that was?

Read Genesis 12: 2 (HCSB):
“I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

In other words, God promised Abraham that he would have many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They would become a great nation.

For a long time, it seemed as if God would not keep His promise. Abraham was 75 years old at this time, and he had no children. Twenty-five years went by. Still, Abraham had no children. Finally, when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90, his son Isaac was born.

Sometimes we have to wait a long time for God to keep His promises. But we can trust Him to keep His word, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

In today’s story, Abraham was put to the test. Would he believe God’s promise or not?

Bible Story:

          “Here, Father, let me help you with that,” Isaac said as he took the armload of wood from his aged father Abraham and lifted it onto the donkey’s back.

          “There, that’s everything.” Abraham viewed the laden donkey and the two servant men standing nearby. “Let’s say good-bye to your mother, and then we can be off.”

          Mother waited for them at the door of the tent. She was an old woman, her beautiful face covered with wrinkles.

          Abraham hugged her. “We won’t be gone more than a week, Sarah. Take care while we’re away.”

          Isaac hugged his mother too. She clung to him. “Good-bye, my dear, dear son.”

          Isaac knew his parents loved him deeply. He was their only son. His father had told him how he was the fulfillment of God’s promise to make Abraham the father of a great nation.

          “Ready, son?”

          “All set, Father.”

          “Well, let’s go.”

          Abraham, Isaac, the two servants, and the donkey carrying firewood and supplies climbed out of the green valley of Beer-sheba into the dry Negev desert. They traveled all day.

          Finally Abraham said, “It’s been a hard day. Let’s rest for the night.”

          As Abraham and Isaac ate their bread, Isaac asked, “Father, how much longer will this trip take?”

          “Oh, probably another day or two.”

          “Where are we going, anyway?”

          “To Moriah.”

          “But why there?”

          “Because that’s where God told me to go, son.”

          “But why Moriah? Why couldn’t we make the sacrifice to God closer to home? Like here.”

          “It is not for us to question the ways of God.” Abraham’s voice quavered. “We simply obey Him.”

          Two days later Abraham raised his hand for them to stop. Up ahead, a mountain with scraggly vegetation stood tall above the sandy, wind-swept desert.

          Abraham said to the servants, “Stay here with the donkey. Isaac and I will travel to that peak to worship, and then we’ll be back.”

          Abraham untied the ropes that secured the wood on the donkey’s back.  “Come here, son.”

          Isaac wondered how would they get that wood up the mountain if they left the donkey here.

          “Stoop down a little.”

          Isaac bent over and felt the rough, hard wood piled onto his back and tied in place with rope. Abraham took off with the knife for killing the animal sacrifice and the flint for making the fire.

          “Father, why didn’t the servants come with us?”

          “This is between you and me and the Lord. It is best they stay behind.”

          They continued walking. The wood felt heavy on Isaac’s back. The sweat trickled down his face.

          Another question bothered him. They hadn’t brought an animal to sacrifice, and it was doubtful they would find one out here in the desert.

          “Father, we have everything for the fire, but no sacrifice. Where will we find one?”

          “God will provide, my son.”

          They climbed further until they reached some bushes.

          “Stop, Isaac. This is where God wants us to sacrifice. Help me gather rocks for the altar.”

          Isaac laid down the wood, gathered some large stones, and stacked them into an altar.

          There was still no sign of an animal for the sacrifice. Isaac wondered how long they would have to wait.

          “You did a nice job, son, with that altar. Now let’s put the wood on.”

          Isaac lifted the pile of wood in one armload, and Abraham arranged it on the altar, taking more time than necessary. Still there was no sign of an animal.

          Then without a word, and with tears in his eyes, Abraham cut in half the rope used to tie the wood and stood behind Isaac.

          Isaac was puzzled.

          Abraham reached for his arms and gently tied them with the rope.

          Isaac’s heart pounded. Sweat trickled down his back. What was Father doing?

          Abraham took the other rope and tied Isaac’s feet together. Then he picked up his son like a baby and laid him tenderly on the altar.

          What was Father doing?

          The rough wood dug into Isaac’s back.

          Abraham clutched the knife and stood over him.

          Now Isaac understood. He was to be offered as the sacrifice.

          Is this what God had told his father to do? But why? Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise to make a great nation from Abraham.

          With anguished, teary eyes of love, Abraham lifted the knife high and aimed it over Isaac’s heart.

          Isaac squeezed his eyes shut. He didn’t understand. But he trusted God too.

          Suddenly a voice called out from heaven, “Do not kill the boy, for now I know that you truly love God, for you were willing to sacrifice your only son for me.”

          Something rustled in a thicket nearby. A ram was caught by his horns in the bush. Abraham grabbed it and offered it as a sacrifice on the altar instead of Isaac.

          The voice called down from heaven again, “Because you have done what I said and would have sacrificed your only son, I will bless you and multiply your children as many as there are stars in the heavens and sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer their enemies and will be blessed— all because you obeyed me.”

          Abraham put his arm around Isaac’s shoulder, and together they walked down the mountainside toward home.

Application:

Why do you think God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son?

God was testing him to see if Abraham trusted God completely and placed him above all else, even his son.

Do you think Abraham would really have killed his son?

Yes, but his faith was so strong that he believed God would bring him back to life to keep His promise. How do we know that? The Bible tells us in

Hebrews 11:17-19 (HSCB)- “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; he who had received the promises was offering up his unique son, about whom it had been said, “In Isaac your seed will be called.” He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, from which he also got him back as an illustration.”

So did God keep his promise to Abraham? Did Abraham become a great nation, his descendants as many as the stars in the heavens or sand on the seashore?

Yes, Abraham’s descendants became the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, so many that we can’t count them.

God keeps His promises. Has God made any promises to you? Here are some of God’s promises found in the Bible:

  • I John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Philippians 4:19- “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
  • Proverbs 3:5-6-“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Will God keep His promise? Yes. How do we know? God always keeps His promises. God’s timing is always perfect.

You can trust Him.

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Beth Livingston

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