International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday December 18, 2011
Purpose: To know that when we place our complete trust in God, God will provide what we need
Scripture Text: Genesis 22:1-2, 6-14 (NRSV)
(1)After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” (2)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 that I shall show you.”
Genesis 22: 6-14
(6)Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. (7)Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (8)Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. (9)When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. (10)Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. (11)But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” (12)He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (13)And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. (14)So Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
As I read this text, I ask myself, am I ready to have my faith tested by God? And I cannot help but wonder, if tested, would I pass or fail? Nothing in the preceding verses or chapters give us any reason to think Abraham was anything but faithful. God has finally provided an heir that is both from Sarah and Abraham, truly a miracle that Abraham and Sarah are very much aware. The long awaited son has arrived, a gift from God, now God was asking the unthinkable.
At the time and place of this original writing, in the land of Canaan, human sacrifice was often used in the worship of their gods. Many theologians look at this story as a condemnation of such practices, and this is what separated Abraham's faith and practices from the rest of the world at that time. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that God devised the sacrifice of His only Son as a means of redemption for all of humankind. God was not asking Abraham to do anything that He was not willing to do himself.
So where did God send Abraham to perform this awful cruel deed? In 2nd Chronicles 3:1 we read: "Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had designated, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite". Many believe that this is the present day location of the “Temple Mount,” in Jerusalem not far from Mount Calvary where the crucifixion took place.
In the 5th verse, that was skipped, in our text we get a sense of Abraham's faith, 22:5 "Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham was trusting God to provide a way out of sacrificing his only son, he didn't know how God would do it but he was confident enough to tell his two young men, “We will come back.”
In the same way we are given a way out of our own “condemnation,” Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit". And in Romans 5:8, it says, "But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us". Our redemption is provided in the same way as Isaac's, by faith. God's only son whom He loved, became our “Ram caught in the thicket by its horns” or my translation would be “a Lamb caught by thorns,” God always provides a way out, there are times when our faith cannot see the “Ram in the thicket” but remember we need to expect God to work a miracle, just as Abraham was tying his son Isaac to a pile of wood, he was still looking for God to provide that sacrifice. Keep watching and listening for God to respond in times of need, 2 Corinthians 12:9a “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
When God becomes all we have, He is all we need. 1st Peter 5:7 says, Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
As you study this text, take a moment and think of what Mary was asked to do, she was in the same situation as Abraham when Jesus was on the cross.
God Bless you all and Merry Christmas