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A Tested Faith Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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May 25, 2022 1:00 am

A Tested Faith Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 25, 2022 1:00 am

God knows sacrifice. When God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son of the promise, the only fitting response was obedience. In this message, we ascend the mountain with Abraham and Isaac while reflecting on the coming Redeemer from Isaac’s line. Let’s plumb the depths of a story only God could have written.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. There are few places in the Bible that draw more tears than the account found in Genesis 22. Abraham is told to sacrifice his son Isaac, the son of promise, the son through whose line the Redeemer was to come. Isaac was to die.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, outline for us your final message on strength for the journey, one you're calling A Tested Faith. Well, Dave, as you might guess, the sacrifice of Isaac, or I should say the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, is for many people a real ethical dilemma. As a matter of fact, all of us have struggled with the morality of that command. But this story is instructive and important because it shows the faith of Abraham and the faithfulness of God. I'm so glad that you joined us today for this ministry.

Running to Win exists because of the many people who support us. But you know, I've written a book entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. It's a book in response to Islam's war with Christianity, peace, and the fact that today, in Turkey, the seven churches of revelation no longer exist.

Islam has taken over. And so I answer many questions that will be in your heart. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And of course, at the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be giving you that information again. For now, let us go to the pulpit of Moody Church as we speak about one of the most dramatic passages in all the Bible. The question before us is this. How much is a man willing to give to God? To what extent is he willing to be obedient no matter what God asks him to do?

And what are the rewards of that kind of obedience? The story is the 22nd chapter of the book of Genesis, Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac. It's a chapter that has been a problem for some people. I suppose all of us at times have wondered how God could ask a man to do that. Soren Kierkegaard, the melancholic Dane of another century, wrote a book about the struggle that he had with Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son. And Kierkegaard concluded that sometimes God asks us to do the absurd. Kierkegaard, I think, understood the problem of the passage, but he came up with the wrong solution. You can't understand this passage unless you realize that it took place in the flow of redemptive history. And therefore, the whole issue of the seed, which has plagued Abraham for years, comes into focus.

This happens to be the 10th and last messages on the series that we've done on Abraham. We must also realize that at this time, the Ten Commandments had not been given. Child sacrifice was common among the pagans. God would not have violated a command after he had given it. And so when Abraham heard the voice of God, he heard it correctly and believed that he had heard it correctly and acted on it. But the most important part of the story is to realize that God did not allow him to sacrifice his son. It's not the kind of a God that we serve. But God wanted to come up with an analogy, wanted to come up with a type, as the word is sometimes used, of the relationship between himself and his own son.

And this is the only way he could do it, come to think of it, than to give us this awesome, dramatic story, most dramatic story in all the Bible, with the exception of the crucifixion. And so with that background, we're going to begin in Genesis chapter 22. And the outline that I'm using may have come from my predecessor, Pastor Wiersbe. Years ago, I heard him speak on this, and I took down his outline. And perhaps this is his.

I'm not sure, but it's possible. But what we'd like to do is to look at this story as if we were watching a video. Now, you know that I believe in heaven we're going to watch videos, but not from Blockbuster, I can assure you.

Not those. They may be watched somewhere else, but not in heaven. But in heaven, I think we're going to see the dramatic stories that we read about in the Bible, the crossing of the Red Sea and the sacrifice, the willingness of a man to sacrifice his son for God.

I'd like to be able to see it someday. And so what we're going to do is to move through the passage, looking at the various aspects of it and considering this dramatic, heartfelt story. First of all, the greatest test, the greatest test. God comes to Abraham, and he says, here I am. Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love. 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. Take your son, whom you love.

Lord, I have two sons. I've got Ishmael. I don't want Ishmael. I want Isaac, the one you love. Take him.

Take your most precious son. The Bible says, verse one, God did test Abraham. It was, first of all, a test of love, because the question that had to be resolved was this. Did Abraham love God more than he loved Isaac? Could it be that this boy who was the child of promise, who was given to Sarah at an old age, could it be that this boy had so embedded himself into the old man's soul that this boy meant more to Abraham than God?

Was that possible? That's what the test is going to show, whether that happened or not. It was a test of love. When God says take the one that you love, it was as if God was taking a knife, putting it into Abraham's heart, then giving it a half turn. The one you love, take him. It was a test of love.

It was also a test of trust. God, after all, you're the one who gave him to me. He is the child of promise.

He's the one that we have waited years to have. If he is dead, how are you going to raise seed and fulfill your promises? You think Abraham was tempted to disobey?

I'm sure he was tempted to disobey. God, how are you going to fulfill your promises if he's dead? But furthermore, why did you give him to me in the first place and then take him away? Hundreds of parents listening to this message have asked that question of God many times. Why even bother giving me this little boy who dies after a month? Why give us a child if you know that the child is going to have some disabilities and that the child is not going to live? Why give and then take away? That's the dagger that was in Abraham's heart.

Yes, Abraham was tempted to disobey. Two questions always come up in the trials that God gives us. Always. Number one, how much do you love me?

And number two, how much do you trust me? Those are the two questions. We'll never be asked to do what Abraham was asked to do. Today, you see, if you hear a voice telling you to kill your child, you know that it is the voice of the devil. It is never, never, never the voice of God. This was a situation that I already explained that was very unique.

And of course, the murder, if that's what we call it, never happened. But God does ask us this question. Do I mean more to you than your relatives, than your friends, than your children? Jesus says, he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son and daughter more than me is not worthy of me. God says, I want your whole heart and even your family has to be number two. It's the greatest test.

Well, let's move on to the greatest trust. It says in verse three, Abraham arose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, took his two young men with him and his son Isaac, and he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place that God had told him about. He was on his way to Mount Moriah, about 50 miles from Beersheba. Some of us have been to Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah is actually the place where Solomon built his temple, it says in Second Chronicles chapter three, verse one. And that's where the Dome of the Rock is today. When I've been in the Dome of the Rock a number of different times and you see that big hewn rock and of course souvenir hunters have chiseled out parts of it, that I believe is the place where Abraham offered up Isaac. Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock, Mount Moriah, Second Chronicles chapter three, verse one.

Fifty miles they now travel together in three days. Scripture says Abraham rose early. What a gift of obedience God had implanted in his heart. Do you think he told Sarah?

I doubt it. He knew that this was something that he was going to have to do alone and he takes Isaac and two young men and together they walk and even though father and son are walking together, they are separated by a dreaded secret. Together they walk and every step that Abraham takes another string breaks in his heart. And they're on their way to that fateful journey. And then they get to the base of the mountain, they journey together from this point on because Abraham says to the young men, he says I want you to stay here and the lad and I are going to go yonder and worship and then we're going to return to you.

Why did the two young men that accompanied them, why did they have to stay at the base of the hill? Remember God wanted a picture of the relationship between himself and his son. This is really a picture of Calvary and when Jesus went and died on Calvary what happened there was between him and his father. A secret between the two of them that you and I can only ponder and think about but we can never understand, we can never get our minds around what happened on Calvary. And that's why I believe that darkness covered the whole land because the transaction was being worked out when the son who was perfect was suddenly declared to be the most wicked evil criminal of the universe.

He became legally guilty of murder adultery, legally guilty of injustice, of cruelty of the worst possible sort. He became the sin for us, the one who knew no sin and what was going on there in Calvary was a secret between the father and the son and no one could enter into it. So Abraham says to the boys, you stay here the lad and I will go yonder and worship. And who carried the wood? It's Isaac. Because Isaac represents Jesus who carries his own cross but notice the text, who is it that carries the knife and the fire? It's Abraham.

That's what it says. Verse six, 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 and so they went both of them together. Who killed Jesus? Who killed Jesus? Well the Bible says in the book of Acts wicked hands crucified him but God had a part in it.

It was part of the plan of God and that's why we read that Jesus was smitten of God and afflicted and the Lord has put him to grief and it pleased the Lord to bruise him. The father carries the knife and the fire and the son carries the wood and together they march to the top of the mountain. Isaac asks a question in verse seven. He says father and the father says yeah here I am and he said behold the fire and the wood but where's the lamb for the burnt offering?

It's the question that is asked from Genesis to the end of the book of Malachi in the Old Testament. Where's the lamb? Every time the Israelites brought an animal to be sacrificed the real question is where's the real lamb? We've got all of these lambs here.

We've got all of these sheep. We've got all of these goats that are being sacrificed and turtle doves but where is the lamb? The lamb and centuries later John the Baptist stands on the banks of the Jordan River and says as Jesus is coming to him behold the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world and Abraham says God will supply for himself a lamb and isn't that what happened on Calvary? God supplied for himself a lamb so that you and I could be redeemed and so finally we get to the top of the mountain and the old man begins to build an altar it says in verse 9.

Here of course we have to use our imaginations. He begins by taking rocks that are furthest away because he's trying to stall for time and he begins to build that crude altar stone upon stone and he builds it and then finally he has to reveal to Isaac, Isaac you are the lamb. Did Abraham weep? Of course he wept. This was the son that he loved remember. Could Isaac have run away?

Absolutely. Scholars debate how old he was but somewhere between 15 and 20 easily. He could have outrun the old man who is now a hundred years old actually more than a hundred years old so he could have outrun him.

He could have fought him apparently becomes a willing victim. We're reminded of the words of Jesus no man takes my life from me but I lay it down I have power to lay it down and I have power to bring it to life again but but I'm dying voluntarily here I'm being put upon the altar and that's what happens in the life of Isaac and Abraham is beginning to wonder now obviously as he began when God spoke to him the first time how in the world is this going to work out because after all this is the boy that God gave me who is to be the seed of the nation that would eventually bring about the fulfillment of the promises including the Redeemer. The Bible says in the book of Hebrews and whenever you find a New Testament commentary on the Old Testament always go with what the New Testament writers said all right it's very important we can't improve on the New Testament. It says in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 19 that by faith Abraham was willing to offer up Isaac believing that God was even able to raise him up from the dead from whence he received him figuratively speaking.

Wow. Remember there had not been a resurrection now we look back and say well Jesus was raised and there's going to be a resurrection but there was no resurrection that Abraham could point to. This is why he's the father of faith. This is why when the Bible speaks about him he's talked about as a friend of God three times but also also the man that we are to emulate the man that we are to believe because when he offered Isaac on the altar he said to the two young men your member we are going to go to this mountain and we are going to worship and then the whole idea is clear in the text we are going to come back to you. The old man expected a resurrection because God is God and if Isaac is to be the child of promise Isaac will be the child of promise even if Abraham kills him because God is God and we're not.

Well that almost takes our breath away doesn't it? Are you aware of the fact that in Islam it is generally believed that Ishmael is the one whom Abraham was willing to sacrifice because after all Ishmael is the oldest son and that's one of the reasons why we know for sure that there can never really be peace in the Middle East because our Islamic friends believe that the land belongs to Ishmael and to his seed. These are the kinds of issues I discuss in the book The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. Are you aware of the fact that Islam has special designs for America?

Do you know that the FBI uncovered secret documents that talk about their plan for this country? All of this is discussed in the book. I believe it will be a tremendous resource to enable you to understand Islam and to better witness to our Islamic friends. For a gift of any amount it can be yours here's what you do go to and by the way thanks in advance for helping us because together we are making a difference. Now I hope that you've had an opportunity to get a pen or pencil as I mentioned once again go to or if you prefer you can call right now at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, an informed response to Islam's war with Christianity. It'll be a book that you'll want to read and pass along to others.

Go to or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The subject of prayer raises questions for Calvin who asks, I want to know this, how does a person know when God is speaking to them or has answered a question? How do I know when God is saying yes or no?

Well Calvin first of all let me begin by saying that your dilemma is a very common one. We've all wondered about God's will, we wish that it were written in the sky but the problem is we're not sure whether God is saying yes or no. A couple of things, first of all be very wary of the idea that God is going to speak to you directly. I've never had God really speak to me directly regarding a yes or a no. I believe that God leads us in other ways, first of all through submission to the scriptures, be sure that you are in fellowship with God and willing to do whatever he wants. First of all be willing to accept a yes or a no. Next I think it's very important to receive wise counsel from others, try to get some input into your situation, people who perhaps agree with you, people who may not agree with what you want to do.

Hear both sides. Finally make a wise decision and sometimes I've had to tell the Lord this, Lord I'm leaning toward yes and I'm going to do this unless you stop me and then as I begin to proceed in that direction God either confirms it or he does stop me and close the door. So that's been helpful for me but remember this God is more concerned about keeping you in his will than you are in walking in his will. God was more concerned about bringing Jonah back from his disobedience than Jonah was.

I've learned this that if we are willing to be led, God has his ways to lead us. Thank you Calvin for your question, thank you Dr. Lutzer for your answer. If you'd like to hear your question answered go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. To make sure we understood Calvary, God gave us Mount Moriah. There Abraham, a picture of God the Father, was told to sacrifice Isaac, a picture of Christ the Son. To read Genesis 22 is to weep. Next time we're face to face with a story only God could have written as Isaac is spared from the knife. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-14 15:52:47 / 2023-04-14 16:00:54 / 8

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