Jeremy Stopford, Retired Pastor, Originally preached September 3, 2017
TODAY’S SPECIAL: “A Calendar Funny”
What is the favorite month of lumberjacks? SepTIIMMMBEERRRR!!!
50 years from now, what will our children have learned about their history from the past 200 years? All the statues honoring the heroes of past generations would have been removed or smashed. Even the statue of Thomas Jefferson, honoring him as the founder of the U of Virginia, is being contemplated as being moved. Will they also tear down the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC? Will they close his home in Monticello, VA? which appears on our coins? Will our Jefferson coins & dollars go?What will future generations know?
What about God’s memorial? Are they going to tear that one down, too? Did you know He has one? Our text tells us.
A. THE ABANDONMENT
“Here I am” (Genesis 22:1-2)
“Some time later, God tested Abraham” – these words introduce us to the follow-up to Genesis 12:1-3. What dreams did Abe have? Follow his dad? Follow his trade? Stay in the country? No, he abandoned those to follow his God.
Now, there is another test – and we are specifically told that God is the Author of this test. GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF THIS ENTIRE MEMORIAL. It was His idea. We learn in James that God is NOT the author of temptation – allurements to evil. But He IS the Author of stretching His children so that dependence upon self is put to death, and a heart is abandoned only to God.
We learn 2 specific parts of this test:
#1 Abraham has immediate abandonment “here I am”. This phrase appears 20 times in our Scriptures, and another 5 times as “here am I”. Note: twice here (vs. 1,11); Esau (in conversation with Isaac); Jacob, Moses, Samuel, & Isaiah in conversation with God. And Jesus Himself. Check out Psalm 40:7 (quoted in Hebrews 10:7-9 as referring to Jesus) and Revelation 3:20, His invite to commune with Him! Jesus is showing Who is the heart of God’s memorial, and where – the cross!
#2 Abraham had a treasured relationship with his son, Isaac, and God knew it!
ILLUSTRATION: Like Isaac, I was the son of my father’s old age. He was 47 when I was born. And yet, in retrospect, I was the son he loved because he spent so much time at home with me.
Note God’s 4-fold description: (take) your son (personal), your only son (unique, one of a kind), Isaac (he has a name), whom you love (the receiver of the father’s favor). Did you notice the line “your only son”? Ishmael was born years earlier, but Galatians 4:22ff remind us that he was not a legal heir, nor was he the son of promise. Before God, Isaac was his only son. Years later, another Father would talk about His Son: “that He gave His only begotten – His one and only – Son” (John 3:16).
Also note: “burnt offering” – this is a complete sacrifice, the giving of the entire animal – or, in this case, oneself. Abraham understood this abandonment full well. Do we?
One other quick note: Dr. Arthur Pink observes something that blew right over me: this is the only place in Scripture where the Lord required a human sacrifice. All other sacrifices that He outlined were of animals: lambs, rams, etc. Tuck that info away!
The first heart of this memorial is the abandonment of our Heavenly Father as seen through Abraham’s abandonment of himself before God.
B. THE OBEDIENCE “Early” (vs. 3-6a)
There are at least two important points to describe this obedience. First, it came “early”. Abe did not hesitate to obey his heavenly Father. Do we? Do we seek Him early in the day – first thing before the tasks of the day take over our time and strength? Do we seek Him early when He sets a task before us to do?
But secondly, is the little phrase – almost unnoticed except for it being so LOUD – “the third day”. God in His wisdom always surrounds obedience with promise and hope. “Third day” is the day of…RESURRECTION! And note Abe’s description: we will worship and we will come back. Abe’s obedience was such that he was sure that no matter what happened up on the mount, Isaac was assured of being alive when it was over – even if God would have Abe complete the task of sacrificing his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loves. In this huge way, God reminds us that obedience is always surrounded by promises – over 2000 of them – in God’s Word! We need to cling to them every day!
C. THE COMMUNION “Father?” (vs. 6b-7)
It would be easy to slide over this vocal interchange from Isaac to his father, Abraham. But in it, we learn much:
#1 Isaac felt very comfortable to talk with his dad – he could question him about anything! And so can we with our heavenly Father! (Oh, and can your children and grandchildren with you?)
#2 Isaac understood what a burnt offering is. He noted that there was a difference between a simple offering (using fire
and wood) and a burnt offering, meaning the offering was to be consumed. How did he know that? Because he learned that from his father! Communion. Sweet intimacy between a father and his son. Do we avail ourselves of that intimacy between our heavenly Father and us? In prayer, we talk to our Father. In His word, He talks with us. Communion. A vital part of this memorial.
CONCLUSION “God will provide” (vs. 8-14)
The name of the mount was identified as “Moriah” (v. 2) and “The Lord will provide” (v. 14), a name for God Himself (“Jehovah Jireh”). Can there be any doubt that the place of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is none other than Mount Calvary itself?
And if that isn’t enough, check out the. NT application (Heb. 11:17-19). Of course, this is the great faith chapter.
And many years later, God the Father sent His son, His one and only Son, Jesus, Whom He loved, to Mount Moriah – a hill called Calvary. And on the third day He, too, rose from the dead. “And whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
THAT IS GOD’S MEMORIAL!
Are you gonna tear that down, too? Or is that memorial the foundation of your abandonment of self to the Father, the sweetness of your obedience before the Father, and the heart of your communion with the Father?
Would you really want to tear that down, too? Or are you going to pass The Memorial of the cross of Calvary on down so that future generations will also celebrate The Memorial?
Close in prayer