Arnold Brown – Abraham’s Sacrifice – Parma, Idaho – 1978

Genesis 22, we were singing, “Upon a lonely mount, Obeying God’s behest.” It was upon a lonely mount that Abraham made this sacrifice. It was not in front of a big audience that was applauding, and telling him that he was doing a wonderful thing. That is the way the world operates. We are sitting these days in a heavenly environment. There were vows made last night, to give their all, their best to God. They were made in a very favourable atmosphere, but when they go out and leave this atmosphere, they are going to find themselves standing alone. That is going to be the portion of all of us. We have often heard that vows are made in holy places, but often paid in lonely places. It is what we are when we are alone with God that counts. That is how Abraham proved himself. It was upon a lonely mount. We have heard of Moses going to the back side of the desert. Some of these most noble characters that we read about did what they did when they were alone with God, and these have brought inspiration to God’s people down through the years. We are glad that there are places like this where we can come that are such an encouragement to us. It is here that we receive the strength to go and face the lonely mountain and desert experiences. These experiences work something into our lives that nothing in the world can substitute.

Verse 1, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.” You will find the reading in the margin of your Bible says “God did prove Abraham.” “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13) Some might have the impression that God starts us in this way and then deliberately puts obstacles in our way to tempt us. God does not do that. “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) We are glad that when temptations are placed in our way by the enemy of our soul, God knows our limitations. God is on our side. It is necessary to prove things. God is anxious to see His people proving Him, and God then has the right and privilege of proving His people to see how deep their love is for Him. In the natural things of life, everything has to be tested and approved. On most of the electrical appliances or machinery you buy, there will be a little tag which says, “tested and approved.” All of the major car manufacturers have proving grounds, and before a new model is ever put on the market, it is put through grueling tests beyond anything it would be put through in ordinary driving. This world is a proving ground that we are on. Most people make it a pleasure ground, and just waste their time. God wants us to be using this world as a proving ground to prove our love on His behalf.

There is a little account of this given in Hebrews 11:17, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.” We might wonder about that, because as we heard the other day, Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac was the second born, the seed of promise. It wasn’t easy for Abraham to cast out Ishmael, it was grievous to him. God was proving Abraham in that point, too, but he was willing. If it was grievous to him to cast out Ishmael and Hagar, how much more now, when God was asking him to offer up Isaac. All the hope of the promises were bound up in that son. He didn’t ask why. God asked him to do it, and he did it. It was perfect obedience. This was one of the things that seemed to be outstanding in the life of Abraham. “Abraham obeyed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.” It isn’t the big things that we do that prove our love for God, but just that childlike faith and obedience. There needs to be a lot of submission in the life of a child of God. When God asked of Abraham the impossible, he did it because of his faith and confidence in God.

Verse 3, “And Abraham rose up early in the morning.” I like the details it gives us here. There is no mention made of Sarah. I don’t know, we can’t speculate or be too dogmatic, but I wonder if Sarah knew anything about it at all. The closest relationship in the world is that of husband and wife. There is a closer relationship than that, though, and that is between ourselves and God. This is something that we have to do personally. It was something between Abraham and God.

They were going on a three days’ journey, and Abraham could have felt that we don’t have to take wood with us, but he didn’t leave anything to chance. We can’t leave anything to chance in our service to God. The only proof of sincerity is our attention to details. Abraham gave very close attention to details. They didn’t have any way of starting a fire instantly, so they had to carry coals with them. They took the wood and the fire. On the third day they saw the place afar off. We have heard about separation in this convention, and this is so necessary. The world doesn’t understand that. They say, “Why do you have to go away?” Moses spoke to Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go, and we will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God.” There must be separation. The people of the world don’t appreciate the sacrifice of God’s people.

There is such a close parallel between this and the sacrifice of the New Testament. These types and shadows of the Old Testament were necessary to prepare us for what was coming in the New Testament, and it proves beyond a doubt the genuineness of the Bible. No man could ever dream up any story of fiction that could compare with the miracle of the Bible. The emphasis in this story is on the father sacrificing the son, and in the New Testament the emphasis is on the Son being the sacrifice. This chapter is like Abraham and Isaac’s Gethsemane. He took two young men with him. Jesus took some young men with Him. Abraham used the very same words, “I and the lad will go yonder.” He didn’t tell them what they were about to do. He didn’t say, “I am about to make the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made.” He was keeping it to himself. I like the fact that he used the word “worship.” He didn’t use the word “sacrifice!” In I Samuel 1, it tells us that Hannah and her husband went up yearly to worship and sacrifice. Those two things are inseparable. There couldn’t be any true worship if there wasn’t sacrifice. And there could never be an acceptable sacrifice without worship connected with it. That is never more clearly demonstrated than at convention. People come to convention and the one thing they never hear anything about is money. There is no mention made of that kind of sacrifice. Everything about God’s way is sacrificial, but it is done quietly, and without looking for place or recognition. That is the way Abraham did it. It is the way that Jesus recommended that His disciples do it. He said to them, “You do it in secret, and your Father which seeth in secret shall reward you openly.” This is a sacrificial ministry and it inspires sacrifice. When people see the Lord’s servants sacrificing and giving their best for others, it inspires them to sacrifice and serve also.

Verse 5, Abraham said, “We will come again to you.” Do you read anything in that? He was taking Isaac up to offer him as a whole burnt offering. Abraham was stating his faith in the resurrection. Hebrews 11:1.9, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” As far as God was concerned, the sacrifice was complete. I read also in that, of the coming again of Christ.

Verse 6, “They went both of them together.” Abraham took the wood and laid it upon his son. Isaac took the donkey load of wood on his own back. He was no youngster. I think he must have been at least 21 years of age, and he was a willing sacrifice. It was not against his will. Isaac said, “Where is the lamb for the offering?” I think Isaac had seen his father make an offering before, but something was lacking this time. This must have cut through the heart of Abraham, like the sword that pierced through Mary. Abraham said, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” He was speaking in a prophetic manner of the sacrifice that Christ would make for the sins of the world. It also applied to the present situation.

Jesus said, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Isn’t there some way out? “Nevertheless, not My will.” If this is God’s will, I want to do it. Isaac also had every confidence in his father. He knew that he was a God-fearing father; he knew that he was accustomed to obeying God. He would have known, too, about the experience of Abraham having to send away Ishmael and Hagar. I believe these words would have been in Isaac’s mind, and probably on his lips, even though it is not recorded here. “So they went both of them together.” It didn’t bring any change in Isaac’s spirit after Abraham had explained to him that he was to be the sacrifice. Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, provoke not Your children to wrath.” One way you could provoke your children is when you are very rigid in disciplining your children, but do not discipline yourselves. The children know that. If a father or mother has a higher standard for their children than they do for themselves, it will provoke children to wrath. If Abraham hadn’t had sacrifice in his life and rigid discipline, it would have been very difficult to tell Isaac what he had to face that day. But the fact that he had seen obedience and submission and rigid discipline in his father’s life made it easier for Isaac to submit.

They put the wood in order on the altar. The lives of God’s people are very orderly lives. They are not disorganized. There are people who live in this world and just let themselves go and drift with whatever comes. They are very disorganized. God has always been very particular. People in the world say, “It doesn’t matter how you do it.” This was just another proof of Abraham’s sincerity and loyalty. If you put wood on a fire carelessly, you can put it out, but if it is put on in proper order, it encourages it to burn. In verse 12, God said, “Now I know that thou fearest God.” It was Abraham’s obedience that proved this to God. I Samuel 2:3, “For the Lord is a God of knowledge, and His actions are weighed.” It was after this that Abraham saw the ram caught in a thicket, verse 13. A sacrifice had been provided that Isaac might live. This is a wonderful picture to me of what God has done in providing a lamb to take our place. We should have been the sacrifice, we should have been on that cross, but He took our place and died for our sins. We can hardly imagine the relief that was in the hearts of Abraham and Isaac when they saw that lamb caught in the thicket, and I wonder if in our hearts there is the measure of gratitude and appreciation that there should be for the Lamb of God who has taken our place.

Hebrews 11:10, Abraham looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. In Genesis 13, Abraham was very unselfish in giving his nephew Lot his choice of the land. Lot chose selfishly. After Lot had chosen, God said to Abraham, “Lift up now thine eyes…For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it.” The whole land is yours. That was a wonderful promise from God. God really didn’t give Abraham any choice – He chose for him. What did Abraham do? Start out and build a city, or a mansion for himself? No, he continued to live in that land just as he had before. He continued living in tents. He lived all of his life in that land of promise as though it were a strange place. The only piece of ground he ever took a title to was a burying ground for his wife and for his family. He was looking for a better country, a heavenly country. This was Abraham’s attitude towards that Promised Land. All of our hopes and ambitions are wrapped up in our human life, and God says, “Now, give that to Me.” What have I got left? That is where faith comes in. We need to have the faith to commit that to God. Anything less than 100% commitment to God doesn’t bring the blessing of God. God’s way was made for wholehearted people, and half- heartedness just doesn’t work. Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh, which meant “Jehovah will provide.” Then the Lord said, “In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee, because thou hast obeyed My voice.”

There are a lot of people living in the world today, who are descendants of Abraham, and they think they can claim these promises. These promises, however, were made to those who were walking “in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham.” (Romans 4:12-13) It is a matter of wholly committing one’s life to God, and obeying Him with all our heart. It is only through this avenue that all the nations of the earth can be blessed. We are glad that that seed has been preserved all down through the generations, and that we have the privilege of seeing it in our midst.

Verse 19, it doesn’t say that he told these young men what had happened, and I have my doubts that he did. Abraham didn’t feel like advertising what he had done. He just simply obeyed God and did what was his duty and pleasure to do. If we advertise our sacrifice, we have spoiled it. We have heard that we should never leave the price tag on a gift. If we are going to bring our sacrifice to God, don’t advertise it. God sees, and after all, that is what matters. God will reward us openly. When we think of the sacrifice of God and of Christ for us, we realize how rich we are. We are grateful for His resurrection, and the fact that He is sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us. All of this makes us thankful that we have the privilege of committing our lives into His care.