Father & Son Together
FATHER & SON TOGETHER
Sermon By Terry Siverd / June 20, 2021 / Cortland Church of Christ
Happy Father's Day to all of you dads.
Please open your Bible to Genesis chapter twenty-two. I want us to rehearse this amazing story of father Abraham and his son Isaac. Gen.22:1 begins with the preface, Now it came about after these things that God tested Abraham. Part of “these things” that preceded this “test” was the arrival of Abraham & Sarah's first-born son Isaac.
In Gen.12:1f God had promised Abram that He'd make of him a great nation - - i.e., the progenitor of many descendants. After the passage of time and in the ongoing absence of a son, Abraham & Sarah began to “think outside the box”. Gen.15:1-2 indicates that Abram pondered the appointment of a steward (the father of one born in his house). But the Lord instructed him otherwise (Gen.15:4-5): one who shall come forth from your own body,he shall be your heir. Count the stars...so shall your descendants be. Gen.16:1f records that years later, Sarah devised a plan to give Abram her handmaiden in hopes of producing a son. In Gen.18:1ff we read of a visit made to Abram & Sarai by three angels. Being hospitable, Abraham invited them to rest and dine for a while. Before departing, the Lord said to Abraham, I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son (Gen.18:10). Sarah overheard this and she laughed to herself. She is questioned by the Lord, who also reprimanded her saying, Is anything too difficult for the Lord? and then reiterates His promise of the birth of a son (Gen.18:14).
Abraham was 75 and Sarah was 65 when God first made this promise of a son (Gen.12:4). Finally, after waiting 25 long years, Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (Gen.21:5). What a remarkable slice of history - - first child born to aged couple: Abraham at age 100 and Sarah at age 90. Isaac's arrival and presence with his parents must have produced a ongoing “mountain-top” experience.
Yet that which now follows in Gen.22 is even more remarkable.
God gives Abraham an assignment that almost seems beyond comprehension (Gen.22:1-2) - - Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And Abraham said, 'Here I am.' And God said to him, Take now your son, you only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you. Suddenly the euphoria (light and joy) of the last many years seems to give way to dystopia (darkness and gloom). As to the age of Abraham's son Isaac when this directive is given, we can only guesstimate. In Gen.22:5, Abraham speaks of Isaac as a “lad” (Hebrew naar is flexible in meaning). This is the same Hebrew word used in vss. 3 & 5 to refer to the two other “young men”. Henry Morris (The Genesis Record, pg.372) points out that Gen.21:34 closes, noting the passage of “many days”. He concludes that Isaac was very likely around 30 years or so - - somewhere between 25 and 35.
After waiting 25 anxious years for the birth of Issac … and then another 25 or so years after his arrival, the Scriptures announce that GOD TESTED ABRAHAM! Gen.22:2 is the first recording of the word “LOVE” is the Bible - - it is the love of a father for his son. But here we read that God directs Abraham to sacrifice his only Son! Why? Is it possible for parents to love their children too much? Did Abraham & Sarah love the Lord more than Issac? The New Testament tells us that this remarkable story is a foreshadowing of God's own actions (Jn.3:16). This account of Abraham and his son is a picture of God the Father and His only Son. Indeed, Heb.11:17-19 indicates that this ancient story serves as a “type”. Perhaps Abraham was troubled by this command. One can't held but wonder. Did Abraham question God's directive? Did he protest in any way? If so, the Scriptures remain silent about such. Here again, what we read in this text is remarkable. Gen.22:3-6 states - - So Abraham arose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place which God had told him. And Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. This last phrase is important - - SO THE TWO OF THE WALKED ON TOGETHER. The text continues (Gen.22:7-8) - - And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, 'My Father!'. And he said, 'Here I am, my son.' And he said, 'Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?' And Abraham said to him, 'The Lord will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son. SO THE TWO OF THEM WALKED ON TOGETHER. Isaac is not a little boy who is unable to resist. He is a young man, quite capable of usurping the will of his aged Father. Isaac could have easily concluded that his father who loved him dearly had become deranged or demented, but he didn't - - the two of them walked on together. The observation noted twice tells us that this story is not just about the faith of father Abraham, it is also about the faith of his son Isaac.
After traveling northward for some thirty miles over two full days and part of a third, they arrived at their destination. Here again is a Divine "preview". Why did they need to travel to Moriah? 2Chronicles 3:1 holds the answer - - Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah... Abraham's sacrifice prefigured all of the sacrifices that would later be offered in the temple. Those sacrifices in the temple, in turn, would foreshadow THE ULTIMATE GREAT SACRIFICE - - God offering His only begotten Son (the perfect Lamb of God/1Pet.1:19) to atone for the sins of the world. Note the precise language of Gen.22:5b which attests to Abraham's faith - - WE will worship and (we) will return to you.
One final note to consider. How in the world could this kind of (human) sacrifice be considered worship to God? The word “worship” literally means to “bow”. Whenever we bow to the will of God we are worshiping in the purest sense. (This is an often overlooked meaning behind the idea of calling God Abba! Father! - - see my essay).
Both Abraham and his son Isaac were bowing to the will of God.
Read the rest of the story from Gen.22:9-18. Then they came to the place which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and he took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, 'Abraham, Abraham! And he said, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me. Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place 'Jehovah-jireh' (the Lord will provide), as it is said to this day, 'In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.' Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, 'By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiple your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY VOICE.
What a timely message for this Father's Day - -
Fathers & Sons walking together in faith, obeying the will of the Lord.