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The Faith of Abraham and Isaac

We wrap up our sermon series on the life of Abraham this week as we look at God testing Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22. God has already delivered on His promise to give Abraham a son in Genesis 20, and 25 years of waiting have come to an end for Abraham and Sarah. Then, God asks the impossible of Abraham. He asks him to sacrifice his promised son. If this was Abram of the past, he might have tried to scheme his way out of this request. The one thing God has assuring Abraham of for decades was that he would provide a son, and now He’s asking for Abraham to sacrifice him?

 The Faith of Abraham

We see how Abraham has transformed spiritually. He trusts in God’s promise and character and knows that God will provide a way, if he is obedient. He trusts that in God, all things are possible, even resurrection. Even if God allows Abraham to kill his son, he believes that God will bring him back to life. He responds in faith, and God lives up to His Name. Can we see the parallels to the Gospel? God the Father sacrificed His only Son, the Son He’d promised to redeem His people. God sacrificed His Son, and restored Him back to life! He upholds His promises, even when they seem impossible to us.

 The Faith of Isaac

Abraham’s faith is what we remember from this story, but what about Isaac? We don’t know the exact ages of Abraham and Isaac in this passage, but most agree Isaac is at least 18. That means Abraham is at least 118. Isaac has got to know something is going on when he realizes they’re not bringing a lamb for the offering. When Abraham starts to bind him up to put on the altar, I’m sure he puts two and two together. Growing up, my dad and I would goof around and wrestle, and as a boy he’d beat me easily. As I grew into my teenage years, I surpassed my dad in height, and by time I graduated from high school, the scales had tipped in my favor. Abraham was well past the prime of his youth, and Isaac could’ve easily overpowered his dad. But there sure seems to be faith on his part as well. He believes his father when Abraham assures him that God will provide a sacrifice. Can we see the picture of Jesus here? Our Savior willingly laid down His life for us, no one forced Him. He could’ve easily overpowered those who nailed him to the cross, but He knew God was providing the sacrifice for us. And as God could’ve done with Isaac, God brings His Son back to life!

 This is the God we serve. When we experience trials, when God tests our faith, we can respond as Abraham did. We can have faith knowing that God is true to His character and promises. Even when a situation is impossible, we can be obedient because we serve a God to whom nothing is impossible. And because of His Son, we know that our suffering on earth is fleeting; an eternity of joy and peace with our Savior awaits!

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Abram's Faithful (and not so faithful) Response

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 This Sunday we’ll begin part 2 of a sermon series through Genesis that we started last year. Lord willing, over the next few winters, we’ll continue to work our way through the book of Genesis, and see how God faithfully and sovereignly establishes His people.

 Last year, we finished the series in Genesis 11, where God disperses the nations after they build the Tower of Babel and we read the lineage of Abraham. This week, we’ll look at chapter 12, when God calls Abram. He promises to build a great nation through this 75-year-old man. As incredible as this sounds, we see later that God doesn’t give Abraham his son Isaac until he is 100, and his wife Sarah is 90! It definitely would take some faith to believe this is possible.

 Abram’s story begins in Genesis with God promising to build a nation and calling him to move from his homeland and family. God doesn’t tell him yet where he will go, yet Abram packs his things and leaves all he knows behind. He trusts God to be true to His word.

 Just a quick sidebar: if you are in a small group at Coastal, you’ll spend some time discussing what our faith should be rooted in. Abram trusted God’s words, as should we. We have the completed Scriptures, we don’t need to look for some grand vision or a prophetic voice to give guidance. God has told us all He wants us to know through His Word. We can know His will and follow Him if we know the Bible. You’re probably familiar with Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. That light may not always show the whole path, but it will guide us the way we need to go.

 Abram sets out and responds in faith to God’s command. By the end of chapter 12, however, Abram has wavered. As he enters Egypt, he fears for his life and instead of trusting God’s promise to protect him, takes matters into his own hands. He develops a ruse to pass through Egypt pretending Sarai is sister rather than his wife. Needless to say, this backfires. God remains faithful, however, and delivers them from Egypt. How many times do we do the same thing? We know God’s commands, we know His promises, yet we think we can somehow do things better? “God, I know you say that I should be generous with my money, and trust you to provide, but have you seen the bills this month?” Or, do we use failure as an excuse for inaction? “God, I know you’ve called me to share the gospel with those around me, but my family knows too much about me. They’ll think I’m a hypocrite.” Abraham is called the father of our faith, and we see in Scripture he was far from perfect. God’s faithfulness is not dependent on our merit, He’s not surprised by our sin. He keeps His promises because of His character, not because we deserve it.

 Praise God that through His Son, we have forgiveness of sins! This is not an excuse to sin freely, but grace to overcome our sin. When we fail, we can turn to God and He will cleanse us. And as He did with Abraham, He can use us for His glory.

 

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