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On a Hill Far Away! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
March 15, 2024 6:00 am

On a Hill Far Away! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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March 15, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Skip begins a message to help you discern the source and purpose of hardships.

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Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig

Here's the big difference. Satan tempts you. God tests you. Satan tempts you to bring out the worst in you. But God tests you to bring out the very best in you.

Now, I'll admit, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, right? You wonder, am I being tempted or am I being tested? A hardship comes. You go, is this from the devil? It sure seems like the devil's attacking me.

Maybe. How do you know if what you're facing is from God or from the enemy? Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Pastor Skip begins a message to help you discern the source and purpose of hardships. But first, here's a timely new resource about the current war in Israel and how it fits in God's plan for His nation. Israel at War.

That's the title of a new book by Skip Heitzig. Modern Israel has been at war from its very first day of existence. As Skip points out, on the day after Israel became a nation, that was May 14th, 1948. On May 15th, virtually every Arab neighbor attacked Israel to destroy it. Israel had been a nation one day.

They didn't have an organized army. Israel at War is up to date concerning current events in the Mideast and includes Skip's comments during his December tour of the Gaza border and a video link to Skip's interview in Jerusalem. The new book Israel at War is our gift to you this month to anyone who encourages the growth of Connect with Skip with a gift of $50 or more.

Make your financial vote of support at connectwithskip.com or by calling 1-800-922-1888. Israel at War will give you Skip's insight from over 40 trips to Israel and decades of Bible study. I know the Middle East seems like a very complex situation.

It's actually pretty basic. One side wants the other side dead. On one side you have a Jewish nation, a Jewish state called modern day Israel. Israel wishes to exist as a sovereign state living in peace.

Most Palestinians and other Arab nations, not all but many of them, deny the right of Israel to exist. Receive Israel at War by Skip Heitzig with your gift. Go to connectwithskip.com or call 1-800-922-1888. All right, let's get started. We're in Genesis 22 as Pastor Skip begins his lesson.

We are looking at the bloodline that runs from Eden to eternity and this week goes through the life of Abraham. We're seeing a picture. I love pictures that tell a story. On my phone, my lock screen is a picture of my wife. Just sort of captures her sitting in a chair. Her smile is just wonderful.

A quick little embodiment and even though I see it every time I turn my phone on, I never get tired of that picture because I never get tired of her. So I love to be reminded of our love. So too we'll see a picture here that reminds us of God's love.

We're considering how one experience is a preview of another experience. That is what Abraham and his son Isaac will experience at a place is what God the Father and his son Jesus will experience at that same place. So that Genesis chapter 22 and the story of Abraham and Isaac become one of the greatest examples of faith even in the New Testament. In Hebrews 11, the author writes, it was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham who had received God's promises was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Though God had promised him, Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. Abraham assumed that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. Now you know that Abraham was one of Jesus actual physical descendants. In fact, all Jews trace their heritage back to Abraham. But also we're tracing the bloodline, the scarlet thread of redemption. And that scarlet thread comes to the surface vividly in the 22nd chapter of Genesis.

So that Abraham's experience of almost sacrificing his son points to when God would actually sacrifice his son. Several years ago, one of the department store chains in America came up with a new idea, a business venture, a commercial venture that proved disastrous. They marketed a little doll. It was a baby Jesus doll. And they marketed the doll as being unbreakable, washable, cuddly. They had it in a little straw manger, a manger of satin on plastic, and they had straw around it.

And they had appropriate scriptures put on the box and on the crib itself just to make the scene complete. It was a disaster. It was a flop. It didn't sell, as you can imagine. So one of the store managers in this chain of stores kind of panicked and decided we got to make one last-ditch promotional effort to get rid of these dolls. So he hung a huge sign in front of his department store that read this, Jesus Christ marked down 50%.

Marked down 50%. Get him while you can. There are several mistakes in this whole venture. In fact, the whole idea, I think, was a mistake. But number one, the mistake is trying to confine Jesus to being just a baby. And that's how a lot of people like to think about Jesus, the cuddly little Jesus in the manger when, in fact, he was born and lived for one purpose, death. He came to die. A second mistake is that a store could mark Jesus down in value when, in fact, to God he was invaluable. He was the most precious thing ever, his only son. The third mistake is that you could buy Jesus. The truth is he came to buy you. He gave his very best.

He paid the ultimate price for you. With these thoughts in mind, we're going to look at the story in Genesis chapter 22, and we're going to mark it in four phases, four phases that describe the story. They're written for you. I put them in your worship folder for this week.

I organized my thoughts around these four, preparation, examination, submission, and anticipation. Let's read a couple verses. Verse one, it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, Abraham. And he said, here I am. I've always liked that.

I don't know why. And 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 is a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. The first phase is preparation for notice how verse one begins. It says, now it came to pass after these things. After what things? Well, after all the things that are mentioned in the previous chapter.

After all those things. Chapter 21, in chapter 21, we read of several things that happened. Number one, Abraham's first son, by the name of Ishmael, departs, leaves the family. Also in chapter 21, there's an altercation that Abraham has with one of the local leaders that gets resolved. Also in chapter 21, the birth of Abraham's second son, Isaac, takes place. After these things, God tested Abraham. Now, after all of the things that I mentioned happened in chapter 21, Abraham went into a period of rest. I want you to look back, if you don't mind, at chapter 21. Look at verse 32.

There's a little description. It says, thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. So Abimelech, that's that local ruler I mentioned, rose with Fichol, the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines. Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree, it's a wispy little evergreen that grows in the area, in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines, many days. Most scholars believe that the many days, that is the interval between chapter 21 and 22, was up to a few years. It was a period of rest for Abraham and Sarah and Isaac. Abraham is in Beersheba with his wife. Isaac is born there. It's the most satisfying time for the family.

I'm picturing long, leisurely walks. Isaac's name means laughter. I bet they cracked up and laughed. Just enjoying this time, the idea that this child could be born to such an old couple so miraculously. It was a time of enjoyment.

Here's the point I want to make. This restful time was a time of preparation for the worst storm Abraham would ever face. And that storm is in chapter 22. There's an old proverb, a Yiddish proverb in fact, that says, God sends burdens, but he also sends shoulders to bear those burdens. We all go through hard times, but if you're a believer, when you go through a hard time, God will send with the difficulty, the capacity to handle that difficulty.

You have the burden, but you also have the shoulders to bear them. Do you ever fear of what God might allow to come into your life? Do you ever wonder if you'd be able to handle some great trial or heartache like this?

Don't. Sometimes we read a story like Genesis 22 and we think, well, I could never do what Abraham did. I could never handle that. I could never have this kind of faith to act like he did. And the truth is, God was preparing Abraham for what he would face. God made sure that Abraham had learned what he needed to know and that his walk, his faith was stable, that the shoulders came along with the burden. So God is preparing you today for what you'll face tomorrow. He's preparing you for the trial, for the hardship, for the heartache, and the blessing that will follow the trial, the hardship and the heartache. You need to know that Abraham is about to suffer this great trial because of what God tells him to do, but afterwards comes a great blessing that follows on the heels of the trial.

There's a great reward that is coming after this hardship. I've always loved the story about the tiny little plant that was small and stunted that grew next to, was planted next to, and thus underneath the shade of a huge oak tree. And that little plant loved the strength and the stability of being so close to this giant oak. But one day a woodsman came into the forest and started chopping down that huge oak tree. And when the axe hit the wood, the little tiny plant cried out and said, oh no, all my strength and my protection will be gone.

And he said, all my strength and my protection will be gone. Now I will have no shelter. Now the rough winds will blow on me. And now the storms will uproot me.

The axeman, hearing the tiny plant cry out, said, oh no, not so. Now the sun will get on you more than ever before. Now the rains will fall on you more than ever before.

And now you won't stay stunted, but you will grow more than ever before. Even the blastings of God lead to the blessings of God. And you'll discover that sometimes God subtracts in order that he would multiply. In Romans chapter 8, Paul the apostle writes, what then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Great question to ask yourself.

If God's for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? So the trial was there, but first came the preparation. That's phase one. Phase two is the test itself, the examination. It says in verse one, it came to pass after these things that God tested.

That's the exam. Tested Abraham. And said to him, Abraham, and he said, here I am. And he said, take now your son.

Here's the test. Take 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. You need to be aware of the word tested in verse one.

It's a Hebrew word, nasah, and it means to prove value, to prove quality, to prove the worth of something. I know that the old translations like the old King James render it a little bit differently. It says, then God did tempt Abraham, but that's not a great rendering because there's a huge difference between temptation and being tested. In fact, the Bible says in James 1, God cannot be tempted, nor does God tempt anyone.

So here's the big difference. Satan tempts you. God tests you. God tests you. Satan tempts you to bring out the worst in you, but God tests you to bring out the very best in you.

Now I'll admit, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, right? You wonder, am I being tempted or am I being tested? A hardship comes. You go, is this from the devil? It sure seems like the devil's attacking me. Maybe, or maybe God's allowing this to happen, even sending the burden because he's strategically placing you somewhere. In fact, maybe it's both. Maybe in this hardship, Satan is tempting you, but God is testing you.

It could be both. What do you do when you can't tell the difference between a temptation and a test? Simple, you trust in God's sovereignty.

Here's an example. Joseph, you know the story of Joseph, right? He was sold by his brothers to the Midianites who brought him down to Egypt. He could have said, this is from the devil. I'm being attacked. Maybe, or maybe something else. Maybe something else. And then after that, he was placed in Potiphar's house as a servant. So now he's an indentured slave and he could have said, this is from the devil. This is horrible. Maybe, or hold on, maybe something else. Then it went from bad to worse.

He was falsely accused, thrown in prison and forgotten for a period of years. Now it's easy to say, why the devil's always attacking me. Maybe, or something else, or both. In fact, at the end of Joseph's life, when his brothers finally approached him, Joseph's words were this, you meant this for evil, but God meant it for good. Both were at work. You meant it to trip me. God meant it to temper me and use me.

So sometimes it could be actually both at work at the same time. That's when you trust in the sovereignty of God, the Romans 828 principle. We know that all things, I'm glad it says all, not some, not most, all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose. That's the test. He tested Abraham. He tested Abraham.

How do you know if your faith is any good? Test it. Put it to the test. Expose it to heat.

Expose it to hardship. See, anybody can say, I love God when times are good. I trust God when the cupboards are full. But test that love of God. Test that faith in God. And so God will from time to time test you, not tempt you, but test you to temper you.

And to make your faith strong, to prove the quality. Anne Kemel writes, faith is like jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. If God doesn't catch you, you splatter. But how do you know whether or not he's going to catch you? Unless you jump.

Unless you jump. I love doing weddings. I've done a lot of them. I love watching couples exchange those nervous glances at each other, and I love them sharing their vows. But I have become convinced that couples at the altar don't really hear the wedding vows they're saying. Oh, they say them. They do it all right, but they don't always hear what they say. They say, I'll take you for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. But what they're hearing, I believe, are the words better, richer, health. At that moment, they're not really thinking about worse, poor, diseased. But that could come.

In fact, it probably will come. And that's when the test of love comes. That's how you know love is real.

That's how you know faith is real. It has to be tested. Well, God tested Abraham. Now, in this test, God touches the most sensitive nerve possible in Abraham's life, Isaac, his son. Why?

Because all of God's purposes were wrapped up in Isaac. Now, we know this is a test. And how do we know it's a test?

Really simple. How do we know this is a test? It says so.

It says so. Pretty easy for us. You know, we're not in the test. We're just reading it. He tested him.

Oh, yeah. We know it's a test. He didn't know it was a test. God didn't come to him and say, this is a test of the emergency broadcast network. This is only a test.

He didn't have that advantage. The test just showed up. He went through it.

We know in hindsight that it was a test. Abraham did not. So, he hears God give him this command. And when he hears this test, it's unimaginable. What God tells him to do is unthinkable. Isaac, his name means laughter. Abraham is not laughing.

This is no laughing matter. His heart is shattered. He is grieved by the very thought of this commandment. And when God tells them this command, when he's going through this test, this poses a dilemma for Abraham.

Let me explain. First, do you remember that Abraham had a name before Abraham? Did you remember that Abraham had a name before Abraham? It was called Abram. Did you know that Abram means exalted father? Now, he had that name when he had this many children. He had no children, yet his name was exalted father.

Hard to live with that. What's your name? Exalted father. Where are your kids?

I don't have any. But I have one promise, but I don't have any. So, his name is exalted father. God makes it worse and changes his name to Abraham, which means father of a multitude. His name is father of a multitude. In chapter 22, he has two children. One has departed.

That's Ishmael. One is left, and that one left, God says, sacrifice him. Well, that's a dilemma. To make matters even more complicated, it was specifically through this child, Isaac, that God promised he would bless all the nations of the world. So, the dilemma is heightened.

And then also, there's this. Do you remember how old Sarah was when she had that baby, Isaac? 90.

That's called a miracle. A 90-year-old woman having a baby. Abraham is 100.

She's 90. She gets pregnant. It's a miracle baby. So, Abraham is thinking, well, this is a dilemma. Why bother with that miracle if only to kill him now?

So, it seems like God is unraveling everything he went to great lengths to accomplish. But it's a test. And here's the crux of the test. Here's the issue. Who does Abraham love more? Let me rephrase that.

My English teacher wouldn't be happy. Whom does Abraham love more? Does he love God more than his own son whom you love? Take your son whom you love.

Do you love me more? That's a tough question. It's a tough test. That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series, Bloodline, tracing God's rescue mission from Eden to eternity. He's encouraging you to see how God uses hard times to test and strengthen you. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Now, here's Skip to share how you can connect you and many others with the truth of God's word with a gift to keep these messages going out around the world through Connect with Skip Hyten.

Skip Hyten. God's word informs every aspect of our life with timeless wisdom from his own heart. This ministry exists to connect people around the world to God's word so they can experience the life change that comes from knowing and following Christ. Through your generosity today, you can help expand Connect with Skip Hyten into more major US cities and reach more people with the life-changing truth of the Bible. Plus, you'll keep these teachings available to you wherever you listen.

Would you partner with me in this effort? Here's how you can give a gift now. Simply visit the Connect with Skip Hyten channel on YouTube to watch or rewatch your favorite teachings or find new ones to dive into more solid biblical teaching to help deepen your walk. And be sure to subscribe to the channel so you never miss any new content that's Connect with Skip Hyten on YouTube. Tune in again next week for more verse-by-verse teaching from God's word with Skip. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-15 04:57:25 / 2024-03-15 05:06:15 / 9

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