For a moment, look back on the last 10 years of your life. Have there been some surprises along the way?
Some unexpected events that have caused you to change direction? This is your newborn son, Isaac. As we take a deep dive into this passage, we discover practical instruction on how to respond to unwanted surprises. This message was originally delivered on the National Day of Prayer. On this Sunday across our land, this day has been set aside as a day of prayer. Prayer for those who lead us as a nation, prayer for our military, who help sustain our liberty.
Prayer for those houses of worship that continue to declare the truth. Prayer for this land in such great need. We in this generation cannot remember a worse time for us to go through as a country. Even wartime, we were together. Even during deep, difficult trials, when tragedy struck, we were pulling together. We are now a divided people all across this nation.
There are divisions, harsh words, very difficult time to lead this country. May we pray for those who do and those who preserve our freedom. Please bow with me. Lord, you have promised if your people who are called by your name will humble themselves and pray and seek your face and turn from our wicked ways, you will hear from heaven. You will forgive sin, our sins, and you will heal our land. Heal us, O Lord, merciful Father. Lead us in your way.
Use your truth to bring counsel to those who lead. Direct us in your way, our Father, and provide protection in this violent era in which we live. May we see the results of our day of prayer, and may we sense your hand upon us.
Give special blessing to those who wear the uniform, those who lead troops in training, in preparation, and in decision regarding battle. May they be given wisdom, patience, understanding, and may we all be given grace to live in harmony with one another for your greater glory. We now give our gifts with confidence that you will use them for your purposes in your time and in your way.
Use these gifts as you bless those who give. And may those who receive your Son know a peace they've never known before through Jesus Christ, we pray, and all God's people said, amen. God graciously fulfilled his promise to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. It came late in their lives, but he fulfilled it. He had told them, you will have a son.
You, too, will have a son. It would be through this son that the nations of the earth would be blessed. This was a child of promise. Not only did he mean much to Abraham because of Abraham's age, but he was the fulfillment of the wonderful promise of God. So their lives became inseparable. The affection, the intense love between father and son cannot be put into words.
Not just an old man loving a little baby. This is a son of promise finally arrives. Abraham, all through the years, is being reminded again and again that God will give him a son. He will give him a son. A decade passed.
Two decades passed. On their way to three decades before God finally said, you'll now have a son, Abraham had waited in faith, trusting in his God. And along came the boy, the child of promise. We're not given many conversations between father and son, but you can be sure they were intimate and they were endearing.
That dad loved that boy. Out of the blue, with no time to prepare, not even having had a premonition that such would occur, God broke the silence and spoke to Abraham. And the epical event was initiated. All Abraham knows is the command to sacrifice his son. We're told why at the very beginning of the 22nd chapter of Genesis, God tested Abraham's faith. It wasn't a test between the love of a father and a son. It was a test of faith between a man and his God. God came to the place where he needed to have proof or he chose to have proof of Abraham's faith in him. Will his faith in me be greater than his love for his boy? Abraham, Abraham, God called.
Yes, he replied. Here I am. He has no idea why God calls to him out of the blue.
Here I am. Take your son, Isaac, whom you love so much, and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you doesn't even tell him which mountain yet. That's all Abraham knows. That command is an epical moment no one expected. Least of all, a 115 year old or more father who adores his son. I find here three responses in the verses that follow.
The first response is immediate. Notice in verse three, the next morning, Abraham got up early. There's nothing said about the night before. We're not told of any complaining, any pleading, bargaining, discussion with God in prayer.
We're not told of any wrestling, any reluctance. We're told only he got up early. He got up early, saddled his donkey, took two of his servants with him along with his son Isaac, probably had to awaken Isaac. There are no words of explanation. In the narrative, there is no dialogue until later.
The second thing I noticed about the response, it is based on faith alone. He chopped the wood. He got the torch. He set out for the place God had told him to go.
It was a long ways away, three days journey along the way. And it's all based on faith in his God. Abraham knew that his God has never done anything wrong. Nor would he ever be cruel, though he will be filled with mystery and surprise.
You remember that if you're clinging to something and you cannot figure out why you can't hang on to it because it is slipping from you. Abraham knows it's only a matter of time before his son will literally go up in smoke. There is no hesitation. Please observe the first one to break the silence is the son, Isaac. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Stay here with the donkey, Abraham told the servant. The boy and I will travel a little farther.
Please read carefully the next words. We will worship there. And then we will come right back. Will you observe what he calls the sacrifice?
Worship. And will you also notice the pronoun in the return? Not I will come back. But we will come back. He was told to sacrifice his son. But he says we are going to worship and we will return.
We will come right back. To appreciate that and understand how we could say it, we need the help of Hebrews 11. So please turn quickly to Hebrews 11 verse 17, 18 and 19.
Hebrews 11, 17. It was by faith 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, even though God had told him, Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. Now look closely at the reason he was able to do it. Abraham reasoned 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. That's how he could do it.
How could he do it? It's called faith. Believing that God is great enough, if I take the life of my son, to bring my son back to life and he and I walk back down that trail to where the servants are waiting with the donkey and we go back to our home. We will worship. We will return. The Lord is saying to him, in effect, I want your whole heart and that's exactly what Abraham gave him.
The instructions were that clear. I found these words meaningful from Oswald Chambers as he develops the whole idea of total abandonment. Those are words you'll not read in today's media or you'll not hear them either. In a secular saturated society like ours, you will not read of total abandonment. We're in a meism age where it's all about us. But in God's plan, it's all about him. So we live our lives in total abandonment to God or we should. Listen to what Oswald Chambers writes in his work, My Utmost for His Highest.
Listen carefully. Faith is the heroic effort of your life. You fling yourself in reckless abandon and confidence on God. God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us. Now he wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in him.
The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. Again and again, you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants and every time you will turn back when it comes to that point until you abandon resolutely. Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what he says. Christ demands of the one who trusts him the same reckless spirit that is daring enough to step out of the crowd and bank his or her faith on the character of God.
I love that. That's exactly what Abraham does. His response was immediate. His response was based on faith alone.
And now I notice his response is thorough and complete. Walk with the two of them as they make their way up the mountain. Verse six, Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac's shoulders while he himself carried the fire and the knife as the two of them walked on together. Isaac turned to Abraham and said, Father, we have a torch and the wood.
Where's the sheep for the burnt offering? Abraham's response is is worth a second look. Your Bible reads God will provide.
He said more than that. He responded, Elohim, you know, Elohim, you know, which means the Lord himself will provide. In other words, it's all in his hands.
I don't know where the sheep is. I don't know what God's plan is. He himself will provide that. I think it's gracious of Abraham not to get too specific. He leaves it in the hands of the Lord. As he releases his boy to the Lord at this point. The Lord himself will provide what's amazing. There's no further dialogue.
I'm as impressed with the silence of Isaac as I am with the words of Abraham. I mean. It's fairly obvious, isn't it? That if we don't have an animal.
He may be the one. When they arrived as they both walked on together, then when they arrived at the place where God had told him to go. Look at this. Abraham built an altar. No words are spoken. He tied his son who didn't try to run. Who didn't answer back.
There was no pushback. And he laid him on the altar on top of the wood. I will tell you, I read that in my study aloud. A number of times. To try to enter into the moment. With one of my own boys.
Talk about an epical experience. He lays Isaac on the altar. He lifts up the knife. To kill his son as a sacrifice. Would he have done it?
Absolutely. This is not about a father's love for son. This is about a father's faith in his God.
And at that moment. The angel of the Lord. Called to him from heaven. Abraham! Abraham! Hear him high!
Is the response. By the way, if you don't think punctuality is important, take a look at that verse. Dispatched from heaven, the angel of the Lord directly came to Abraham there on that mountain. Called his name and carried the message from God directly to Abraham's ears. And Isaac, laying tight on the altar, hears the name of his father. And the words of the angel, look, don't lay a hand on the boy.
Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know. That's what the test was all about. I hate to interrupt the story, but I have to say that when such tests occur. You will not know at the time what they are about.
But those tests come and you will realize later when it all becomes clear. Abraham hears, now I know. Know what? Now I know you truly fear God.
The word fear is not a word for fright, not that he's afraid of God, it's a word of respect. Now I know that I alone am number one. Now I know that I mean more to you than anything on the planet. Now I know.
Proof positive, you passed with flying colors. Put the knife away, lay down the torch. We'll use it later, but not with Isaac. Now I know that you truly fear God, you have not withheld from me even your only son. Those familiar with Abraham's story will know that Chuck Swindoll has much more ground to cover. His message comes from the brand new teaching series called Clinging to Hope. And today's topic is Clinging to Hope when unexpected tests rattle our world.
To learn more about this ministry we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. Well here at Inside for Living we're prepared to send you a copy of Chuck's brand new book also called Clinging to Hope. Readers often tell us that Chuck has a way of stripping away the layers of complexity and helping us see the heart of the matter.
That's certainly true of this book. In Clinging to Hope Chuck validates our emotional weaknesses while at the same time replacing them with solid biblical counsel. For anyone dealing with disappointment, discouragement or disputes you'll greatly appreciate Chuck's latest book called Clinging to Hope. And you can purchase a copy right now by going to insight.org slash hope or by calling us.
If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. These programs are made possible because people like you give generous gifts. And through your support people all over our country and even the world are engaging in the truth of God's word just as you have. It's encouraging to read the comments we receive. Shalom from Israel one person wrote and another said greetings from El Salvador.
Another said I first found Inside for Living while sitting in a jail in Fort Wayne Indiana. Chuck helped me realize I need God in my life and I'm now 40 months clean from all drugs. This is the outcome of your financial partnership with Inside for Living. So thank you so much for your generous financial support. Day by day Chuck Swindoll's Bible teaching is sent out via the airwaves from Texas and the program encircles the globe. But it's the voluntary donations from friends like you that keep this outreach going. To give a gift today call us. If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888.
Or you can go online to insight.org slash donate. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time. But there's only one that's hosted by Inside for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected. So that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing and just plain fun.
All in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation. Yeah I'll put it this way God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life I've wanted to see a glacier. When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice.
Wow it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Inside for Living Ministries to the great frontier July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or learn more at insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message called When Unexpected Tests Rattle Our World Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message When Unexpected Tests Rattle Our World was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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