Sacrifice your son - Genesis 22:1-19

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the Riverside Church service on 31st August 2014.

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We don't have a recording of this sermon as our service was held in a temporary location. These are Lee's abbreviated notes for the sermon.

On a traffic free day – 2 mins to drive from my house to Clough Road. On normal weekday it’s quicker to walk. Do I get frustrated? Depends on what expectations I bring to the journey.  Ideal and normal.



The normal Christian life. Ideal: no pain, no stress, no illness, no death. That’s called heaven. Normal is different. Hardships will come our way. Both the general pain of living in a fallen world and the specific persecution of following Christ. Expectations right.


Why do they come the way of the believer? God could surely guard his children from them. I want to try and answer this from our section of the Bible this morning.  


Abraham’s story so far. Lots of trials and tests. But today we reach the most difficult and most dramatic test of all.


God’s test (Vs 1-2)


Look at vs 1. Read vs 1-2. Let’s slow down and feel the emotional impact of these words. They would certainly break the heart of any father. To have your child taken from you is devastating. To be the one who takes their life is surely unthinkable.

But this is what God was asking Abraham. To kill him as a burnt offering.


Surely it was even worse for Abraham. Because remember who he was being to kill. The child of the promises. The promises were big, not just for Abraham but for the whole world.


Now of course we the readers know it was all a test. He won’t have to go through with it to the end. But Abraham didn’t know that. He would certainly know that such a request was out of character for the God who had been revealing himself to Abraham over the decades. He was probably perplexed. But the words of God were unmistakable. “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”


What would he do? He obeyed.


Abraham’s obedience (Vs 3-12)


What do we discover about Abraham’s obedience?


First, it was immediate. Look at vs 3. He didn’t delay.


Henry Law (19th century minister in the CoE), “Let this example teach, that prompt obedience is the surest wisdom. God loudly addresses you in your Bible…Rise up early and obey…

To linger is to court ruin. Delay is the craftiest net of Satan. It is the terrible pitfall, out of which there are rare escapes. Many in torment will forever rue the miserable  hesitation, which ended in their miserable end. They tarried, but death tarried not. They paused, and the voice of mercy ceased. Commands unheeded are the common and rapid road to hell.”


Second, it was persevering. Look at vs 4.


Three days of travelling. Three days to consider and ponder what he was being asked to do. Three days to keep on going.


It wasn’t just an impulsive start. It was considered perseverance.


Third, it was hopeful. Look at vs 5.


We will worship and then we will come back to you.”


Hebrews 11:17-19, “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.”

Fourth, it was accompanied. That is, Isaac shared the faith of his father in the goodness and greatness of God.


How do I know that? Look at what we are told at the end of vs 6. Went on together.


Isaac asks a heart wrenching question in vs 7. To which Abraham replied. Look at what we are told at the end of vs 8. And the two of them went on together.


At this point I’m not sure if Isaac was fully aware of what was happening. But I’m convinced he was by the time we get to vs 9.


Isaac laid down, without argument but not without fear. He too had faith that was being expressed with obedience.


Do you share the same faith as your parents? It must be personal.


Fifth, it was total. Look at vs 10.


At just that moment he heard a most welcome voice from heaven that stopped him in his tracks. Read vs 11-12.



What was the purpose of the test?

At first sight it may seem that the test was for God’s benefit. The angel of the LORD says, “Now I know you fear God, because you have not withheld from me, your son, your only son.” God knows everything. He knows how it would work out. But now that God has seen it worked out he can now reassure Abraham that he has passed the test,


Abraham certainly learned much through it. His muscles of faith were exercised. He will now be better prepared for future service. But now he could be sure that his faith was real.


Our trials. Why does God permit them to come our way? They will certainly mould and shape you to be more effective in service of Christ. They will also show that your faith is real. Read 1 Peter 1:3-7. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you,  5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  7 These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. “

How do you know you don’t simply have a fair weather faith? Henry Law, “Faith untried, unprobed, unproved, is faith uncertain. The quality of the metal is ascertained, by what it can do and bear. The courage of the soldier is evidenced in the field…It is a good foundation, when no batterings shake the building.”


One more thing to show you.


God’s provision (Vs 13-14)


Certainly true that God provided for the immediate sacrifice that Abraham was going to carry out. We see that in vs 13.


I want to focus on what is said in vs 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.”


What would be provided? The ultimate burnt offering who will remove the problem of sin once and for all. It is necessary. Abraham’s needed it. Isaac needed it. I need it. You need it.


Where would it be provided? On that mountain. Where is Mount Moriah? One other mention of Moriah in the Bible. 2 Chronicles 3:1, “Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.” It’s Jerusalem! Where Jesus was crucified.

Know all you can about the cross. Keep on going deeper.


Genesis 22 can teach us much about the cross.


  • A provision was necessary.
  • The place where it would be provided.


Anything more? I think so. Deliberately written so that we can look at the people in the story and learn more about what happened when Jesus died on the cross.


What do we see in Genesis 22? A father and a son. His only son whom he loves. Takes up to a mountain to be sacrificed as a burnt offering. Isaac carrying his own wood. He voluntarily lays down his own life.


A greater Father and a great Son, indeed, a greater Isaac.


There is one climatic difference.


There is no substitute for Jesus. He is the substitute for us.


So dear friends as we encounter God’s tests. And through his strengthen seek to obey him. Let us be freshly motivated to do this as we ponder God’s provision. His only Son, whom he loved, sacrificed for us, on Mount Moriah. Let’s pray.











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