Sunday, 9th August 10.30 am Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN Who you say I am (Hillsong)

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

CHORUS
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

VERSE 2
Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

CHORUS 2
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

BRIDGE
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

PRAYER

READING GENESIS 22

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

Nahor’s Sons

20 Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maakah.

SERMON The Great Sacrifice

This must be one of the most difficult passages in the whole Bible, don’t you think? God commanding one of His servants to kill his only legitimate son? What kind of God would do that? By what moral code does such a God live? Indeed, when that God makes it explicitly clear that taking an innocent life is WRONG, are we to conclude that this God is inconsistent – or worse?

There are huge issues here, but before we jump ahead of ourselves, maybe we should just look at the actual words recorded for us here and logically follow through the written material.

Right at the start of the incident, in verse 2, God tells Abraham to GO. This is a Hebrew word lek-le-ka. The word occurs in only one other place in the Scriptures – namely in Genesis 12:1 where God tells Abraham “GO to the land I will show you”.

Here in chapter 22 God says; “GO .. to the region of Moriah .. on one of the mountains I will tell you about”.

On both occasions Abraham is being told to go – but not told WHERE to go.

That is not particularly the point, though. Rather, what we, the reader, are meant to see is that on each occasion, when Abraham obeys the command of the Lord, God rewards His servant with glorious promises.

12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you

22:18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me

On each occasion Abraham was being told to leave behind all that he held dear and go and worship God at the place God would command.

On the first occasion he was leaving his home and country – his way of life – much of his family and many of his friends. On this second occasion he was being told to let go of his son – the son of promise – the son he loved as much as life itself.

Indeed, one of the key words in this passage is SON – it occurs ten times – and on three of those occasions it is ONLY SON that appears. This is a passage full to the brim of family love and devotion. We are meant to smart every time we read that word SON.

But the reader is assured, in verse 1, that what is about to happen is in fact God testing Abraham.

What WE need to realise, therefore, is that the greatest danger in this passage is NOT to Isaac’s LIFE – but rather to Abraham’s relationship with God.

It might be a helpful distinction if you were to think in this way: Satan tempts us to destroy us; God tests us to strengthen us.

Throughout the incident, only ONE word of Abraham’s is recorded – he says it twice – in verses 1 and 11 – and it is translated into English as Here I am.

The incident takes place in Moriah, generally accepted to be Jerusalem (the mountain of the Lord). And what was Abraham told to do on this holy mountain? Sacrifice his son. WHAT?!

Whatever else we take from this passage, we must surely see that faith demands RADICAL OBEDIENCE!

The key is that we need to be CLOSE to our God.

Here we see Abraham’s prompt obedience in verse 3 – early the next morning …. Abraham doesn’t hang about when God tells him to do something he sets about the task immediately.

It is also worth noting that in the Scriptures, 3 days was a typical period of preparation for something important.

One or two details which should be highlighted. In verse 5, you will have noticed that Abraham left his servants behind – this was to be a lonely track up the mountain for the old man.

But notice also what he said to the servants he left behind: “WE will worship and THEN WEwill come back to you.” Now this could mean many things, but the author of Hebrews sees this as Abraham having faith in a God who raises the dead.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

Indeed, in Romans 4:16ff, Paul identifies this with the faith that Christians have in the resurrection – believing in the God Who gives life to the dead.

The story unfolds so movingly – with Isaac carrying the very wood of the sacrifice – and his father carrying the knife and the fire.

And then – finally – verse 10 – Abraham takes the knife in his hand to slay his son – and while his hand is in the air – God shouts “STOP – do not lay a hand on the boy” – and at that instant, God provided a substitute – a ram – and the ram was sacrificed instead of Isaac – the very first substitutionery atonement in the Bible – the start of the whole sacrificial system of Israel. Vs 14 “The Lord will provide”.

But what will we learn from the sacrifice of a son incident?

Well there is something, surely, about faith in action, Abraham’s faith working out in his life. There is something about God testing his faith – and ours; something we should expect as we seek to be obedient to God. But standing out even above these is the fact that this story sounds so much like another story of One Who gave His Only Son as a sacrifice, only this other one did not hold back at the moment of execution. Here was One who died in place of others – not a ram, or even a lamb, but the very Lamb of God – the Son of God. Yes in the same place, Moriah, Jerusalem. Abraham’s willingness, and Jesus’ words: “no-one takes it from me – I lay it down of my own accord.”

Just as Isaac carried the wood of the sacrifice, so Jesus carried the wooden Cross of His sacrifice.

And, just as symbolically, (Heb 11:19) Abraham received Isaac back from the dead – so on the third day was the Lord Jesus raised to life. If Abraham’s obedience brought blessings for the world, then how much more did the obedience of the Lord Jesus:

he humbled himself

and became obedient to death –

even death on a cross!

PHP 2:9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.

PRAYER

HYMN From heaven you came (Graham Kendrick)

1 From heaven you came, helpless babe,

entered our world, your glory veiled;

not to be served but to serve,

and give Your life that we might live.

This is our God, the Servant King,

he calls us now to follow Him,

to bring our lives as a daily offering

of worship to the Servant King.

2 There in the garden of tears,

my heavy load he chose to bear;

his heart with sorrow was torn,

‘Yet not My will but Yours,’ He said.

Refrain

3 Come see His hands and His feet,

the scars that speak of sacrifice;

hands that flung stars into space

to cruel nails surrendered.

Refrain

4 So let us learn how to serve,

and in our lives enthrone Him;

each other’s needs to prefer,

for it is Christ we’re serving. Refrain

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