What do you do with Genesis 22?

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I’m going to invite you to Genesis. Chapter 22 is where we’re going to be together today, Genesis chapter 22. And we’re really this is, uh, when dealing with Genesis 22, really the last big event where God is engaging relationally with Abraham. Uh, Abraham, the story of Abraham ends in Genesis 25. And then we follow beyond that in Genesis chapter 23 to 25 is really the passing of a torch from one generation to the next. Uh, but this is really the the last big event that we’re reading of God’s interaction with Abraham in Genesis chapter 22. And one of the things that we’ve recognized as we’ve studied the life of Abraham together is how far along God has brought Abraham on this journey. And when we talk about God bringing Abraham along on this journey, we’re not just talking about miles traveled. Abraham has certainly traveled many Miles and his relationship with the Lord, but we’re talking about his faith journey and how God has nurtured, um, his relationship with him in in Abraham. And it hasn’t been perfect, right? Abraham probably wishes he had a few do overs and how he’s lived his life, and it’s but it’s really more reflective of anyone’s relationship with the Lord. Just because you come to know the Lord doesn’t mean you’ve got it all figured out. And your theology of who God is is perfect, and in your practice of that is perfect. We’re all in a in a journey together of what it looks like to honor God with our lives.

And Abraham. He has some places in his life that just reflects that his. It wasn’t always perfect with the Lord in terms of his running away to Egypt with and giving Sarah to Pharaoh. And he did it again with King Abimelech, and gave Sarah to King Abimelech, and then his relationship to Hagar. It wasn’t wasn’t perfect, but the direction of Abraham’s life was one that he ultimately wanted to honor God, and it was demonstrated by his willingness to give up the comforts of where he lived in order to pursue where God was calling him. And through that, we we’ve learned about what it means in our own life to walk with God and how God meets us in our brokenness, alienated from him, to offer his grace that we may know him and walk with him all of our days. And when you get to Genesis chapter 22, Genesis 22 is a doozy. And I you know, if you were here last week, we talked about Genesis 21. It’s like it’s no wonder Genesis 21 was such a docile chapter in comparison to what we know was waiting in Genesis 22, because when we read Genesis 21, the big takeaway, uh, was God, uh, Abraham planted a tree. That was the big takeaway. Abraham planted a tree. And now Genesis 22, we’re going to be dealing with something much bigger. This is the chapter where Abraham offers Isaac as a sacrifice.

And so the big question for you today is what do you do with Genesis 22? Abraham offers Isaac as a sacrifice. That is a a very challenging chapter, especially in light of any other time in history. You try to do that today. You go to jail, right? Like how do you relate a chapter like this to your life? And what does it mean for for us like this? This could challenge your thinking of who God is, uh, and your relationship with him. You certainly. If you follow after the Lord, you need to reconcile a chapter like this on what it means for you. And not only that, but but other people might have questions too. I mean, if you ever pick up the Bible and read it, you get to 22. You should have some questions. Right? And so if other people have questions, what do you say to them about a chapter like this? If you claim to follow after the Lord, what what does it mean for you? And so this is a powerful chapter of the Bible. But but to be honest, theologians throughout the centuries have wrestled with this. Some have labeled this as one of the most challenging chapters in all of the Bible. Uh, one one theologian by the name of Soren Kierkegaard is noted as this. This, for him was the most difficult chapter. He describes it that way. He talks about coming to this in fear and trembling, in how he engages a passage like this.

You know, one of the things that I have learned to appreciate in my faith journey as I’ve studied God’s Word, is that some of the most challenging chapters of the Bible render some of the most beautiful fruits that, rather than just kind of one off and answer and run away from it or pretend like it doesn’t exist. If I actually engage it and I plunge the depths of what Scripture is saying here, I find those chapters of the Bible are some of the most cherished for me, and what it means for my own relationship with the Lord. And no doubt God is using a story. That is, it is shocking the way that God presents this story. But I think the idea of the nature of this story is intended to really awaken our soul to the importance of what’s taking place here. So the key question for you today, what do you do with Genesis 22? And let me just give you point number one in your notes. Acknowledge the challenge of following after the Lord. I love that, um, relationship with with walking, walking with the Lord and after the Lord. It’s got complexity and there’s a mess to it, and I don’t think it’s necessarily on God’s part. I think it’s our part, but God is big enough God to handle the challenges that we experience and for us to acknowledge that before. For him when you face hard times.

God’s big. God’s grander than your problems, and just being honest with God with those challenges is important to acknowledge the challenges of following after the Lord. That’s something we try to create here in our own culture. And the next couple of weeks I’ll introduce to you Christianity 101, anyone that’s new to the Christian faith, or maybe even been a Christian for a while. If you want to be a part of a class where we spend five weeks looking over the the major beliefs of Christianity, we’ll spend five weeks talking about that, and we want to create it as an environment that you can ask questions. That’s how you learn and grow where you’re curious. Right? And I think God desires that of us, that we would be challenged. God gave you a mind for a reason and we would learn and so acknowledge the challenges before the Lord. In fact, Genesis chapter 22, verse one, it starts off that way. And the way that that that God speaks to Abraham and says, after these things, God tested Abraham and said to him, Abraham. And he said, here I am. So it’s telling you something about the nature of this passage, that there’s something bigger taking place here. And the word tested sort of sets the framework for our understanding of how we might work through this passage, that God is doing something specific and, and the challenge that he’s bringing to Abraham, he is testing him.

And so this tempers the story. But when you read this, this thought that God is testing Abraham, I think it’s also important to recognize what kind of test are we talking about? Um, because there’s a way in which God tests us that I think is important in Scripture. But there’s also another way that we might think in terms of testing that God does not do. In fact, if you want to find a chapter of the Bible that speaks very plainly about this, it’s Genesis chapter one, the way Genesis or excuse me, James chapter one, the way James chapter one starts as, uh, considered all joy. My brothers, when you endure various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. So James talks about the testing of our faith. But then in verse 12, it goes on a little bit later and says, God tempts no one. So, so in terms of testing, testing is not this idea of temptation, because God’s interest is not in your failure. There’s a few different ways in which we approach this. The thought of testing in culture, uh, you if you you growing up going to school, you took a test. A test is about a pass fail. You find out right where you’re at in the midst of a test, right? You either move on or you fail. Right. That’s that’s how testing works. You go get your driver’s test. It’s a pass fail. You’re either good enough or you’re you’re not right.

That’s that’s how that works. You got to do it again. Um, but there’s another type of testing that just simply reveals where you are, right? Like, you go to a a doctor for some testing. It’s not about trying to fail you because no one wants you to fail in your health, or at least no one that cares about you wants to fail. But it’s about understanding where you are and trying to improve upon that. And in terms of Genesis chapter 22, this is what it’s saying for for Abraham, God’s not here to fail Abraham. That’s God’s desire at all. God’s desire for you is for your success. God’s desire for you is a relationship with him. But there are times in our lives where we can fool ourselves into thinking that we’re in a position that we’re not. Anyone can really fake a healthy relationship with God when things are going well. But the question is, when you face a challenge, what do you really depend on? Do you lean into the Lord or do you trust in other things? And for Abraham, that’s what he’s about to discover in this story. Now, the magnitude of what God says here is shocking, right? It’s shocking for a few reasons. One, because when God tells Abraham, offer Isaac as a sacrifice, it’s shocking to us and trying to figure out, okay, how do we respond to this? In light of my understanding of the nature of who God is and the promises of God that he delivers to his people, do I even know God? Right.

Those kind of questions you might. Okay, why do I got to deal with the nature of God? But then two it also causes us to to examine really the the frailty and the importance of life. And life is important. We don’t want to take this just half heartedly. Abraham is especially. He’s waited on Isaac well for several decades in the promise that God gave him. And all of a sudden God’s asking this of him. There’s a Psalm 90, verse 12, where the psalmist says, Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. And I think about the importance of the life that God has given me. So I really have a healthy perspective of what I should be doing and how I should cherish what God has, has given me. And so it shocks us in the terms of the significance of life. But but it also wakens us up to to ask the question, what are we really trusting in? You’re going to leave this world the same way that you came into it, and you and the Lord, right? Like just you and your bare behind and and God face to face. But we cling to things in life as if that’s the ultimate prize. This, this thought of of possessions or position or power or people and relationship.

We oftentimes can easily try to find our identity, our our worth, our, our purpose and those things. But when we realize, like, none of that goes with you. So, so what? What is more sacred is what endures forever. And there’s nothing that trumps your relationship with God. And in fact, to prioritize the truth of who God is and truth in general and what is absolute truth. And determine to yourself. I’m going to stand for that regardless of these other things, power or money. That if your life is about truth, power, money, whatever possessions, relationships, those, those things will all come in time. But if your life is about understanding the truth, the the absolute truth of what life is about, nothing else can tempt you. And power can come your way. But but it won’t tempt you from straying from the Lord because you’ve prioritized what matters more. And for Abraham, there’s nothing more important in value than the life of his child. I mean, he gave up everything from where he was from to pursue this promise that God had given him, that through him would come one that would bless all nations. And God has finally delivered a child. And so for Abraham to willingly turn that over to the Lord as a demonstration of where his relationship with God ultimately is God, either I’m depending on you or not. And so the questions for us where do you prioritize God in your life? Or is anything more important to you than the Lord? We put things in his hands rather than than than ours.

Nothing can tempt you. On the other hand, when we worry about the cost or the loss of something or what might happen or or, you know, what are the steps if I follow? Like, try to try to think of every anticipation of all the things before us without just simply trusting the Lord and knowing he’s enough. We run the risk of of losing focus of where God is calling us in him. And not only that, when we start to read what God says to Abraham here, this is the first time God gives Abraham a command without a promise of a blessing on the back end. What I mean this this is the first time that God is giving Abraham a command without promising an immediate gift. Would you be willing to follow after the Lord without any immediate kickback? Will you follow the Lord if God alone is the prize? Is your price? Is he enough? Do you trust that God alone is able to satisfy? And when you read the book of Second Corinthians, Paul wrestles with that idea. What is sufficient? Am I sufficient? What he ultimately concludes in second Corinthians chapter 12, verse nine, his grace is sufficient. Whatever I go through in life, I found that God meets me there, and he sufficiently provides what I need, where I’m at. That’s what that’s what the Apostle Paul says.

So acknowledging the challenges of God in Genesis chapter 22, verse two, it says this. Um, he said, 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. So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and rose, and went to place to the place of which God had told him. On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. And some people can read this passage and derive some some terrible interpretation and application of this, right? Like, um, we don’t understand that the intent of a narrative. When you read certain books of the Bible, it’s important to understand the literary genre and the Old Testament. It’s majority of the Old Testament is made up in narrative form, telling you a story. It’s not a prescriptive form. Meaning, just because they tell a narrative, it doesn’t mean this is what you do with your life, right? It’s just simply saying, this is what happened. It may not have been what God wanted, but this is what happened. And there were other times where God says, this is what I want you to do, but it’s just it’s unique to the person in that situation.

We don’t directly live out exactly what happened in the life of someone else, but rather we understand that through the narrative story and the unique happening of this, this person in their relationship with the Lord, there are some things we can glean about God. And then that is certainly true with this story, that when we come to a passage like this, we’ve got to ask ourselves, what? Who is God when when something like this is happening, like God, why would he give such a command? And God what we are going to learn here? He’s unfolding a particular theology about who he is experientially. I think in the book of Genesis to this point, there is no Bible, right? There’s certainly forms of worship that you can see taking place out of understanding of who God is. But there is no Bible. And also in societies during this time, people are largely illiterate. So to just simply write the the Bible, to declare it may not work well either. And so learning about who God is happens in a lot of ways experientially. For Abraham, growing up in a pagan place as a pagan man, he’s wandered from from that place to, to where God is calling him. And as he’s going on this faith journey, he’s learning experientially who God is as God reveals himself to him. And so the same is true in this, this particular story that God is unfolding experientially, the truth of, uh, theologically, of who he is.

And one of the things that we’re going to discover, I’ll just let the cat out of the bag, is the uniqueness of who God is in relationship to the false gods of this land. In this land, false gods are worshiped through sacrifice. And not just any sacrifice. They’re making human sacrifices. It was very common around Abraham and and even beyond his days. You have you have some verse references in your notes regarding this. Um, but it was common in Abraham’s day that these false gods would be worshiped through, like, for example, the fertility god would require at some point the offering of another person, specifically children, in order to continue to provide fertility to the people. Now that is not good, healthy or biblical, but God is going to distinguish himself here. And by the way, those references Leviticus 1821, Deuteronomy 1231, second Kings 16, Ezekiel 23. That’s in your notes. Uh, but you’ll see God giving commands, saying not to do that. Times where other people practice it. And even Israel at certain points, got so far away from God that they delved into that type of false worship. But here’s in this story, what God is going to do is he’s going to establish himself uniquely, uniquely juxtaposed from the other gods. I mean, if you know the story of Abraham and Isaac and the sacrifice, you know that ultimately Abraham doesn’t sacrifice Isaac. He goes through the whole process, but God stops him.

Right? Most of us are familiar with this story, and it’s certainly demonstrating something about the nature and character of God in comparison to the other gods of this land, that God doesn’t ask what he himself plans to give, that only God can provide what we need. That you can be religious all day long, and it’s still not. Reconcile your relationship with the Lord because you need redemption. You need bot, you need forgiven, and only God can do that. Only a perfect sacrifice can ultimately do that. And so God in the story, he’s certainly teaching us about the nature of who he is and helping us discover that through the experience of Abraham. But part of the reason we also struggle with this text is that we’re culturally removed from the context of what’s taking place here. There is something unique about the way Abraham is worshiping that is far removed from the worship experience that we have today. We’ll be able to tie those together here at the end, but here, here’s what we want to do. Number one, just simply acknowledge the challenge of following after the Lord. There is adversity to relationship with Jesus because it comes with sacrifice, a dying of yourself. It comes with challenges to your relationship with the Lord. Or excuse me, the relationships with the world. Because God calls us to walk a different path and it walks contrary to the things of this world.

So as you go on that journey, acknowledge the challenges of following after the Lord. And point number two, then, is this work through adversity by standing on his promises. Work through the adversity by standing on his promises. In verse three, notice what Abraham does. He tells us early the next morning. Abraham gets this command and Abraham immediately gets up and does it. It doesn’t say to us that he was reluctant. In fact, what we see, there’s no reluctancy, there’s no resistance, there’s no argument, there’s no bargaining, there’s no pleading there. There’s no emotionally just checking out because you don’t want to think about it. There’s no delay whatsoever. Early the next morning, Abraham gets up and he does this. But no doubt Abraham is trying to work through the challenges of it. In fact, you see, by some of the dialogue here in a minute that Abraham, uh, says that Abraham is certainly trying to process through why this is happening and who God is. In fact, you have three days of a journey, and in those three days, there is time for Abraham to think about this, because this is his his cherished child. Why must I give up my son Abraham could be asking that question. Or how? How will Isaac produce descendants as God promised? Because God promised. I’ll have a kid. And through that kid, there will come the the blessing of of all nations, all people, groups. How will God even fulfill that promise if this is what God says? But now God’s requiring the the sacrifice of a of a child.

And how can God require a human sacrifice? Why would God do that? He’s just like the other gods. So Abraham would be thinking like you and me through through all these things, trying to understand who God is in light of all of this. And maybe he just thought it was normal because that’s what the other gods required. And you see some of those ways Abraham processes through it as the passage unfolds. So verse five, it goes on and says, Then Abraham said to his young men, stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you. Um. Some translations, uh, translate this a little bit more pointedly than I think the ESV that we have up on the screen does. Um, ESV is implying a certain thought. Some translations just go out and go ahead and don’t imply it. Some translations throw the pronoun we in here. And so when there Abraham, when he goes on this journey to Moriah, he’s taking a few people with him. But only he and his son are going to go up on the mountain. And when Abraham is talking to the people, he says, look, stay here. We are going to go up here. And also we together are going to come back to you. So you see, in the context, Abraham is saying, I don’t know how this is going to play out, but one thing I do know is what God’s promised me.

So whatever happens as we go together, I know that we will return. So Abraham is revealing his expectation in this moment. From what he’s come to learn about God. He knows God is holy. He knows God is just. I mean, he’s seen the the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, but he also knows God is gracious and God has given him a promise. And he expects God to fulfill that promise because he has seen the way God has provided for him along the journey that he has gone on. He’s seen even even in times where he didn’t expect God to provide for him, that God rescued Sarah a couple times from other kings. And so how does that work out? Abraham is learning, but what he does know is as he leaves, he’s expecting both of them will return. And 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. So they were went both of them together. Here’s what it’s saying to us in this verse. Abraham still has a gentle care and concern for his son. His son carries the wood. But but you see, in this story, Abraham carries the the objects that can harm. As if to say his his love for his son and care for his well-being is still embedded in his heart.

So Abraham goes, climbs this mountain carrying the those two objects. And verse seven And Isaac said to his father, Abraham, my father. And he said, here I am my son. And he said, behold the fire and the wood. But where is the lamb for a burnt offering? It’s incredible. Um. God’s finally fulfilled the promise of bringing Isaac to Abraham, and you’ll see a few chapters with where Isaac and Abraham crossed paths in the chapters ahead that they’re both coexisting here at the same time. You know what’s interesting? Out of all the chapters between Isaac and Abraham, this is the only time a conversation between the two are recorded. And it’s written over the idea of a sacrifice. What’s also unique is that we’re learning in this, in this verse right now, that Isaac is old enough where he’s able to carry a mature conversation with his father. He’s able to reason that there’s a that there’s a sacrifice lacking. And to be able to talk to his dad in a rational way about it. Um, he doesn’t know how all of it’s about to unfold yet, but but at least or at least from the text, we don’t know that. But he’s to somewhat of an older age of maturity. Some speculate that he’s probably around the age of 13. Others say he may be as old as 30, and he’s being able to carry this conversation with his his father.

And then verse eight, Abraham said, God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son. So they they went both of them together. And so you see in verse eight how Abraham is viewing this, he’s saying, look, I don’t know how God’s going to do this, but I know God miraculously has done this over and over again. And so because of the promise God’s giving me, I’m completely trusting that God is going to do something incredible. God’s going to provide that sacrifice. In fact, in in Hebrews chapter 11, uh, the author of Hebrews just gives a little insight to how far Abraham was leaning into the faithfulness of God and the willingness that God has to deliver what he promises to us. And in verse 17 says, by faith, when Abraham was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promise was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your offspring be named. So he’s saying, look, Abraham took his most sacred gift in life, his son, and he’s willing to trust this in God’s hands, showing that his relationship with the Lord matters beyond all of that. And verse 19, he considered that God was able to even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. We’ll talk about what it means, figuratively speaking, in the end. But, but but in verse 19, you see where Abraham’s faith is, that God’s promise through this.

And if he’s saying this in this happens, then God’s got to bring him back, because this, this is what God promised to do. So Abraham, he’s certainly thinking through all, all of this as he’s delivering the challenges to the Lord and following after him. He’s working through adversity by standing on God’s promises. And then point number three in your notes is this he discovers God is sufficient. Discover God is sufficient. It’s one thing to read the truth of what God says. It’s another thing to actually experience the truth of what God says. And here Abraham is walking in that experience. Remember one of the things God says to Abraham, or the thing God says to Abraham is important. It’s important to recognize exactly what he says. And also by saying what he says, what he’s not saying. That sounds confusing. So let me let me elaborate. Um, what God doesn’t say to Abraham is, look, go kill your son. Because if God said to Abraham, go kill your son. Um, Abraham could have would have immediately said, no, there’s no way I’m doing that right. Like this child of the promise, you’re a God who says thou shalt not kill. There’s no way I’m doing that. Life is sacred is made in your image. You know I’m not doing that. But what God, what he says to Isaac is sacrifice. Make a sacrifice, and the idea of sacrifice is what helps us to begin to really understand what God is teaching Abraham here.

I know the idea of of sacrifice, especially in terms of Isaac, makes us uncomfortable. But when you understand the particularity culturally of what God is saying, it really brings to light the beauty of this passage. And not only is God saying, okay, Abraham, make this sacrifice, but when you think in terms of Isaac, remember Isaac is somewhere between the age of 13 to 30. And if Isaac is minimum age of 13, then that means Abraham is 110 plus. I’m pretty sure a 13 year old up to a 30 year old is going to be able to take someone 110 plus, right? You see, Isaac’s definitely is old enough to to carry the wood. He goes on this journey without his his his mom like he’s he’s older in years. And so for him to just go up this mountain like this with, with an older man like Isaac is completely capable of taking matters into his own hand. And then what’s interesting, when you read a little bit further, you start to see the way that this sacrifice is taking place. It says, when they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Let me just say, and reading a verse like this, you come to realize at the age that Isaac is, and the age of Abraham is, Isaac is willingly, he’s willingly participating.

Why would both of them? Be willing to follow after God’s call this way. And then verse ten, it says this. And Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. Abraham. He certainly shows his faith in the Lord, not not what he’s getting from God, but the fact that he has the Lord. And to him that that is enough. He’s not treating God just simply as a tool to serve him. But the prize to Abraham is the Lord himself. Now, in order to understand a passage like this, there’s a there’s a concept that’s taught here that we don’t easily pick up on because we’re so far removed from this culture. And what Abraham, the reason Abraham is willing to bring this sacrifice. Um, not a killing, but a sacrifice is because of this concept in the Jewish mind of firstborn. And when it comes to terms of firstborn, there’s really two concepts that we need to understand in order to understand this passage. The first is the idea of first offerings. And then on top of that, the idea of firstborn in an offering. When it comes to offering, when you read throughout the Old Testament, you’ll find that one of the most common types of offering that Israel participated in was the idea of the offering of first.

In fact, the offering of first is communicated very early in Scripture, all the way back in Genesis chapter four. Uh, before really Judaism even began, the offering of first existed. And the story that you see that taking place in is the is the offering of Cain and Abel. If you remember, those two brothers feuded and Abel was was killed by Cain. And the reason Cain killed Abel was because of jealousy regarding an offering. Abel, when he made his offering, he made an offering of. First he took the first of his livestock and gave it to the Lord. When Cain gave an offering, he just took the scrap of whatever he had and gave it to God. And when Israel would give of the first, it was a communication of where their ultimate trust and hope was lying. Um, what I mean is, you’ll see in Israel’s history this idea of offering of of the first of the livestock, the offering of the first of fruits, the offering of the firstborn. And what it’s showing is this utter dependency of God to supply for your needs in life. You think whenever there’s a harvest for you to take the initial first reaping of a harvest and give it back to God, you are genuinely saying to the Lord, Lord, here’s the beginning of our harvest and we are trusting in you to supply the rest. God, we don’t want to give you the leftovers. We want to give you the best because you’re worthy of it.

And we’re also acknowledging, Lord, our dependency on you to continue to supply for us what we need. And so Israel’s offering of the first spoke to to how they viewed their relationship with God and the value and priority that God had in their life. And so they would give this offering of the first in Genesis four four, when they gave her the first of the livestock. It’s saying the same thing. Here comes the birth of an animal from, uh, from another animal God. And we’re just going to go ahead and turn this over to you, and it’s showing our trust in you to continue to supply that is complete dependency upon the Lord in terms of Isaac and giving over Isaac. He is the only child for first and only. It’s telling us in this story. Ishmael is gone. This is the child of the promise, the hope of their future lineage, the protection for Abraham and Sarah to just give that over to the Lord. It’s completely trusting in what God desires to do. Lord, we we know that you’re good. You’ve demonstrated that God, we know that you’ve given this promise. And so, God, here we are turning this over to you because we know ultimately Isaac belongs to you. And so, God, what you want to do with it. Lord, we’re trusting in you to look after us, but not just the idea of first offering. Israel also participated in this concept called the firstborn offering.

Firstborn is is an important word in the Old Testament. The idea of firstborn is going to continue to play out for us in the chapters ahead. When Isaac has two children, Jacob and Esau. If you know the story of Jacob and Esau, Jacob gives up his firstborn. Uh, excuse me? Esau gives up his firstborn right to to Jacob. Same thing is true with with Jacob’s children. He ultimately has Joseph, and he’s the preferred one. And so the picture of firstborn is is important in Israel. And by the way, firstborn doesn’t just have to be the first one born. When you read about King David, King David has given the firstborn position of the family, though he’s the runt of the litter. It tells us in Scripture, um, Solomon, who becomes king after David Solomon takes the right of the firstborn, even though he’s not David’s first son. In Psalm 80, verse 27, the King of Israel is described as the firstborn. Doesn’t mean he’s literally the first one born in his family, but it shows his position of importance to the family. It’s a position of preeminence, of importance. The reason Israel had this practice of a firstborn was in case a father passed away, the responsibility of the family. Was given over to the first born to care for the family and to see the family be successful and who God has called them to be. And so the the idea of first born was significant.

It was this place of position in the home to look after your other siblings and your your other remaining parent and and caring for them. But also the position of first born became this this recognition of a figurehead. It was a demonstration of the need of all of the family. What I mean is, if you read about the concept of firstborn in Exodus chapter 13 and Exodus 22, if you’re familiar with the book of Exodus, there’s a concept of firstborn taught in relating to Pharaoh, king of Egypt. If you remember, the last plague that came upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn. And God told Israel, make a sacrifice and cover. Cover your home with or the doorpost of your home with this blood, that when the death angel comes, he will pass over your home, and the firstborn will survive. This firstborn became a figurehead, a representative for the needs of everyone else. And so that sacrifice was as if to say, as this firstborn needs a sacrifice to be redeemed, so all of us do. And looking at Isaac being offered here. Isaac is a representative of an entire spiritual family. In fact, in the book of Galatians in chapter three, it tells us that we are all children of Abraham. If by faith we trust in the Lord. And Isaac becomes that firstborn representative of the need of all of us, that we ultimately need redemption, we ultimately need a a sacrifice, someone to stand in our place as a substitute.

Isaac becomes this figurehead, this representation of the need of all of us, that as his life is surrendered here, so all of us need our lives surrendered to the Lord and what he has done for us by becoming our substitute. And so this, this concept of firstborn is far removed from our culture, but highly significant to understanding exactly what’s taking place in this story. And not only that, you find the word repeated in the New Testament. That in Colossians chapter one, that Jesus is the firstborn of creation and the firstborn. It tells us in Colossians one to 15 to 18 the firstborn of the resurrection. Same thing in Hebrews chapter one verse six, he is your figurehead, your your representative. And so the story goes on in chapter 22, verse 13, that God provides the substitute. Look at this. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham. And he said, here I am. And he said, do not lay your hand on the boy. God is different than the false gods of this land. God won’t require of you what he himself plans to provide the boy. Don’t lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now. I know that you fear God, and seeing you with what you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me. Isaac is his demonstrating or seeing demonstrated here the goodness of God and the provision he makes.

In verse 13 he says, And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place. The Lord will provide, as it is said to this day, on the mount of the Lord, it shall be provided. What Abraham finds is. As a ram caught in the thicket a provision. Redemption. A substitute. That Isaac’s life has a substitute, and he’s given life because of the sacrifice of this ram. And Abraham then refers to God this way. Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide. Abraham experientially walks with God. Not only does he know the truth of what God says in his promises, but he experiences the fulfillment of those promises which brings joy to his soul. And that’s why he worships the Lord will provide. Now you look at a story like this and you say, that’s that’s beautiful. It’s great. I love the way God painted all that picture. And and we learn a powerful concept through firstborn and how God’s different from the false gods of this land. That’s wonderful for Abraham, but I want to experience God that way. How? How do I experience God the way Abraham did? And I want you to know that this story of Abraham is a story that continues to be told again and again today.

Not just not just the story itself, but the concept of the story. It’s retold every day in the lives of people. And how well, one of the things I didn’t tell you, um, Genesis chapter 22, verse two. When God told Abraham to go to a place to make a sacrifice. God just didn’t tell Abraham any old place. He told Abraham a place that took three days. Which is strange, right? Why can’t he just sacrifice some? You know, somewhere down the street? That might have been a pretty place, you know. Why couldn’t they have picked their own place? Why? Why did they go to a different place? Well, the place that they went was to Mount Moriah. And here’s what’s interesting. Abraham goes to Mount Moriah, makes the sacrifice there. Um, Mount Moriah ends up being the place where the Jews built the temple. Second Chronicles, chapter three, verse one says that the Jews built the temple on Mount Moriah. That temple ends up being the same place that the location of the temple ends up being. The same place where Jesus offered his life for you. Get this as a substitute for for Isaac was offered by being caught by his crown from thorns. So a few thousand years later, there would be one who would come to this Temple Mount and offer his life for you. Being caught by his crown with thorns.

His name is Jesus. And as Abraham raised his knife to drop it on his son and God stopped him so God would ultimately bring his son to this mountain. And this time the knife would not stop. That God would offer himself as a sacrifice for you and for me. To understand that just as Isaac’s life was on the line. So is yours. But God provides a way of escape. The grace of his promises. It’s incredible. Even today in Israel, you can see that area, right? If you’re familiar with it at all. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is this giant, you know, rectangular square here. And over on this side is this little portion of the wall. Right here is the only part of the temple that remains standing from the destruction that took place in 70 AD, the the temple, the Jewish temple was ultimately destroyed, but the Wailing Wall still remains. And you see in this picture thousands of Jewish people that gather outside the Wailing Wall of the temple where they they pray and they offer prayers to the Lord. And they, they put um, uh, scrolls of their prayers in that wall. But right in the in the midst of this temple grounds, you see this little dome here? This is called the dome of the Rock. The Muslims came years later and conquered this piece of land. And they built, built two places here. And you can’t visit either these, by the way. But there’s a mosque down here, and then there’s the dome of the Rock.

This is where they believed Muhammad had an ascension to the Lord. So to them, it’s sacred for their own purposes. But but also, this dome is built here because it’s believed that this is the very rock in which Abraham offered Isaac. The place where Jesus stood 2000 years later as a sacrifice for you and for me. So God wasn’t just picking any old location. God was using this story to tell a grander story, and that grander story is to help us. One, we do recognize the sacredness of life here. Life is valuable. And how valuable is it that God would pick a story to tell a greater story of how he pursues you, that you may know him and journey with him? This isn’t just a story for Abraham. This is a story for you and me that God tells over and over again. So the question is, what do you hold on to? Rather than give your life for the Lord, what do you consider more important than a relationship with God? If God himself were to give his life for you, then who are we to refrain our life from him? That we may know him and walk with him all of our days? This is not just a story, but rather something God intends for us to understand, to experience the goodness of who he is.