Abraham's Faith Tested: The Offering of Isaac (Genesis 22) by Steve Willis Sermon Illustrations

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Abraham's Faith Tested: The Offering of Isaac (Genesis 22) by Steve Willis

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Abraham's Faith Tested: The Offering of Isaac (Genesis 22) by Steve Willis

Abraham's Faith Tested: The Offering of Isaac (Genesis 22)
 Reading: Heb. 1:1-19

      1. We've looked at Abraham's faith:
        a. Abraham believed God (faith) and it was
         reckoned to him as righteousness.
        b. He is the father of the blessed in Christ
         Jesus--by faith.
      2. From previous lessons, we learned that
        Abraham had...
        a. A Faith that Works.
          (1) Faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17).
          (2) Abraham was justified by faith (Rom.
          (3) Faith without works is dead (James
        b. A Faith that was Tested...
          (1) Over a long time.
          (2) In problems with his workers.
          (3) In threat of war.
          (4) When his personal plans failed.
          (5) In problems with his children (and
          (6) When he saw others in his family fail
            (Lot, wife).
          (7) In times of imminent death (war, son,
          (8) When he had to trust others.
      3. In this lesson, we wish to study the
        supreme test, when God  tested Abraham,
        commanding him to offer Isaac.
        a. OT: Genesis 22, The Sacrifice (or
         Binding) of Isaac
        b. NT:
          (1) Rom. 4:17ff "God, who gives life to the
            dead and calls into being that which
            does not exist."
          (2) Heb. 11:17-19

  I. By Faith Abraham...
    A. Abraham is accounted among the faithful
      "cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 11; cf. 12:1
      1. He is the father of all in Christ (Rom.
      2. Gal. 3:26-29
    B. Faith comes by hearing; Abraham heard God to
      start and end the test.
      1. Gen. 22:1-2
        a. God said...
        b. Abraham: "Here I am!"
      2. Gen. 22:11-12
        a. The Angel of the LORD said...
        b. Abraham: "Here I am!"
      3. Some say:
        a. God said it; I believe it; that settles
        b. Why not: God said it; that settles it?

  II. The Test:
    A. Test:
      1. Words:
        a. NASB, tested; Heb. nissah, (Gen. 22:1),
         means "put to the test," and "should not
         be translated "tempt" (Zodhiates,
         Hebrew-Greek Study Bible, p. 31), as in
         KJV. Strong: "to test, by impl. to
         attempt:--adventure, assay, prove, tempt,
         try (in Zodhiates, p. 79 appendix).
        b. NASB, tried; Gr. peirazo (Heb. 11:17),
         means "to try whether a think can be
         done"; "to try, make trial of, test:  for
         the purpose of ascertaining his quality,
         what he thinks, or how he will behave
         himself" (Thayer, from Online Bible).
      2. Test prove and improve our character.
        a. Gen. 22:12
        b. James 1:2-4
      3. It shows once again that "faith only" is
        not what saves, but faith that hears and
    B. Sacrifice of Faith (Gen. 22:1-2).=7F
      1. Sacrifices are done by faith:
        a. that there is a God (Heb. 11:6).
        b. that we owe Him honor, homage.=7F
        c. They are done at His bidding and
          (1) Heb. 11:4, cf. Gen. 4:3-5
          (2) Leviticus 1:1-2, to Israel
          (3) Faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17).
      2. Sacrifices were not easy things; they were=7F
        "work"--physically challenging to do.
        a. Altars to build; stone, wood
        b. Wood to find, cut, carry and burn
         (without matches).
        c. Animals to raise, find, separate, carry
         to site, kill, cut, burn.
        d. Other things: incense, meal, libations,
         to raise, prepare, carry, assemble, and
      3. Abraham:
        a. Answered the call: "Here I am!"
        b. Was told to take his son:
          (1) his son--who took so many years to
            conceive, bear and grow. He may have
            been in his 30s; Jewish sources figure
            37 years old.
          (2) his only son--Ishmael was not the son
            of promise, and had been sent out from
            Abraham's house to Beer-Sheba (21:14).
          (3) his son whom he loves--makes us think
            of the offering of Jesus, the only
            Son, the Son God loves. First time
            "love" appears in the Bible.
          (4) Isaac--which mean "laughter, he
            laughs." Obviously not a laughing
            matter to Abraham.
        c. Was told to go to Mt. Moriah.
          (1) Offer on one of the mountains (22:2);
            Abraham would be doing some mountain
          (2) 2 Chron. 3:1, this is where the LORD
            would later appear to David;
          (3) This is the part of the country where
            God would have a temple build, at the
            threshing floor of Ornan (Araunah, cf.
            2 Sam. 24:18).
          (4) This is the area of Israel where Jesus
            would have finished his days preaching
            and dying--before His return from the
          (5) Abraham had been told to "go" before
            (Gen. 12), and by faith he walked the
            "steps of faith" (Rom. 4:12).
        d. Offer a burnt offering.
          (1) Also called a "holocaust" (Heb. `olah),
            and so translated in The New American
            Bible (Catholic). This word is now
            used by Jews to describe the horrors
            against Jewish people in World War II.
          (2) Read Leviticus 1:3-9.
             (a) KNOW what Abraham was expected to do.
             (b) THINK about whether Abraham was READY
               to do this.
             (c) REMEMBER Abraham made the resolution
               to obey God.
          (3) Think about Abraham as we read Phil.
      4. Sacrifices of Faith are done by people.
        a. People of faith.
        b. Faith-full people.
        c. Just thinking very long about this can be
         a trial to our faith, unless we're fully
         devoted to God.
    C. Obedience of Faith (Gen. 22:3-4).
      1. Abraham got up early and went with his son
        and some servants to obey God's command.
        a. Prepared his donkey; split wood; carried
         a knife (v. 10).
        b. Did you ever wonder, did Sarah know of
         the test? Did Abraham tell her where he
         was going?
      2. Abraham and company traveled three days
        until he saw the mountains at a distance.
        a. Just has he had once been told to go, and
         he went, so he was told to go, and he
         went again. Recall: "the steps of that
         faith" (Rom. 12:14).
        b. What must Abraham have thought about
         minute after minute, hour after hour, day
         after day.
          (1) Did he see animals along the way to
            remind him of the holocaust he would
          (2) Were other questions raised by his son
            or servants that are not recorded?
          (3) How would he answer any questions put
            to him?
      3. Here is some of what Abraham was thinking:
        Heb. 11:17-19
        a. Each step that would bring him closer to
         a place to worship God, must have
         challenged the obedience of his
         faith--yet he OBEYED!
    D. Expectation of Faith (Gen. 22:5).
      1. Hope--Faith is the substance of things
        hoped for (Heb. 11:1).
        a. Evidence of things "not seen."
        b. Abraham...
          (1) left his homeland (Ur, Haran) and went
            to an unseen land.
          (2) left his home to go to a place God
            would show him to worship.
      2. Abraham had the faith that his son would
        return with him.
        a. "We" will worship and RETURN.
        b. Expected Isaac to be alive to worship.
        c. Expected Isaac to be alive to return.
      3. Did this mean he never expected his son to
        die--as actually occurred?
        a. Heb. 11:17-19, seems to indicate that he
         had the faith that should his son die, he
         would return from the dead!
        b. The Holy Spirit gives us this insight.
        c. He acted in faith, having received the
         promises that would be carried out
         through a LIVING son--not a dead one.
        d. If God could give life to a father and
         mother who at such late age in life were
         considered dead to conceiving a son, God
         could bring him back from the dead.
    E. Assurance of Faith (Gen. 22:8).
      1. Somehow, Abraham must have felt assurance
        that all would turn out well. Abraham had
        faith in God.
      2. But, how to assure Isaac? Once again: It is
        God who provides.
        a. Jehovah sees (provides, NASB; Heb.
         ra'ah); this would be come the name of=7F
         the site: Jehovah Jirah (22:14).
      3. "Blessed Assurance" for Abraham and Isaac,
        by his strong faith in God.
      4. Abraham made plans with God in mind.
        a. "The Lord willing..." (Jas. 4:15).
        b. Remember, he was the friend of God (Jas.
    F. Persistence of Faith (Gen. 22:9-10).
      1. Already indicated the 3 days beginning his
      2. Leaving the servants, Abraham and Isaac had
        proceeded onward. The test must get=7F
        harder, and harder.
        a. Climbing mountains.
        b. Carrying what animals and servants had
         carried before.
        c. More stressing: When, how, will Isaac
         know what the test is?
      3. Persistence: Abraham...
        a. built the altar.
        b. laid the wood on the altar.
        c. bind Isaac; Jews call this even the
         binding of Isaac.
        d. bound Isaac on the altar with the wood.
        e. took out his knife.
        f. raised the knife.
      4. He persisted in his faith to accomplish
        what God had commanded.
    G. Victory of Faith (Gen. 22:11-12).
      1. The Victory of Faith was also faith that
        came by hearing, listening to the word of
        the Lord.
      2. Abraham finally saw what he had seen by
        faith before.
        a. the "unseen" (Heb. 11:1, 8, 13, 19).
        b. the ram, caught in the thicket.
        c. God had provided the sacrifice.
      3. Abraham's hope was realized in that...
        a. He and Isaac worshipped the Lord.
        b. He and Isaac returned to the servants and
      4. The promises were renewed in a covenant
        where God swore by Himself--none greater
        a. Because Abraham withheld nothing.
        b. Blessings (cf. Gen 12):
          (1) NATION PROMISE: bless Abraham and
            multiply his seed (22:17).
          (2) LAND PROMISE: seed shall possess
            enemies' land (22:17).
          (3) SEED PROMISE: all the nations of the
            earth blessed in his seed, which Gal.
            3 tells us is Christ.
      5. "Faith is the victory" (1 John 5:4). This
        is more than just saying "Whew!"--this is
        total commitment.

  III. The Lesson for Us
    A. We need...
      1. To offer our "sacrifice" by faith.
        a. Rom. 12:1-2
        b. Heb. 13:15-16
        c. 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8-9
      2. The obedience of faith.
        a. John 3:36; CF KJV to newer translations
        b. Heb. 5:8-9
        c. Do we "get up early" enough to accomplish
         what God has given us to do?
      3. The expectation of faith.
        a. Heb. 11:1, "the substance of things hoped
        b. 2 Cor. 5:7, "we walk by faith and not by
      4. The assurance of faith.
        a. God's love (Rom. 8:35-39).
        b. Firm foundation--NASB (2 Tim. 2:19a).
      5. The persistence of faith.
        a. Prayer (Luke 18:1-2).
        b. Doing good (Gal. 6:9; 2 Thess. 3:13).
        c. Attendance (Heb. 10:24-25).
      6. To obtain the victory of faith.
        a. Jesus has already won. He is the victory.
          (1) "He Arose": "He arose a victor from the
            dark domain..."
          (2) "Victory in Jesus"
        b. Faith is the Victory.
      7. Abraham withheld nothing.
        a. What do we hold back from God?
        b. singing? prayers?
        c. contribution?
        d. attendance?
        e. true devotion to Christ.
      8. Matt. 6:33

      1. By faith men of old gained approval (Heb.
        a. Abraham
        b. Others: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Jacob, Joseph,
         Moses and his parents, Rahab, judges,
      2. By faith WE must seek God.
        a. Heb. 11:6
        b. Faith comes by hearing
          (1) Rom. 10:17
          (2) Hear Ye Him (Matt. 17:5).
        c. The righteous must live by faith (Rom.
         1:17; Heb. 10:38-11:1).
      3. Through many tribulations we must enter the
        kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
        a. There will be outward trials and inward
        b. Some will forsake the Lord for much less
         than Abraham endured.
        c. Rev. 2:10: "Be faithful until death, and
         I will give you the crown of life."
      4. Could someone, someday--the Lord for sure
        one day--look at how you live by faith,
        and call you a friend of God? If not, why
        not act on faith and let it be counted as
        righteousness when you obey the

Steve Willis
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