WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 18, 2011
PASSING THE TEST
(We must faithfully obey GOD through all of our trials)
GOD chose Abraham’s family as a vehicle to bring salvation to the whole world. The Holy Bible traces Abraham’s steps from Ur to Haran, through the land of Palestine, into Egypt, and then, back into Palestine. However, the most significant trip of Abraham’s 175-year life was the 50-mile journey that he takes in Genesis 22, from Beer-sheba to Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah, which was later named, Mount Gerizim, became, and remained, the Jews key place of worship until King David moved the worship center to Jerusalem, early on in his reign.
In Genesis 22 GOD decides to test Abraham’s faith and obedience in a most profound way. HE commanded him to take his son, Isaac, to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering. Now actually, GOD never really intended for his beloved Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the only son he had left, after being told by HIM to send Ishmael away, a short time earlier. In fact, GOD did not even allow child sacrifices to be practiced among the Israelites at all, however, it was in common practice among the surrounding Canaanite nations, and Abraham must have been well aware of that. However, in order for it to be a real test from GOD, one that was designed to prove faith, it had to defy human logic, and it had to be something that Abraham wanted very badly to resist doing.
Surprisingly, in verse 3, Abraham, instead of protesting, rose up early the next morning, and seemingly, almost enthusiastically, prepares himself to set out on a three-day journey so that he could fully obey and carry out the command of GOD.
After arriving at Mount Moriah, we see two statements by Abraham that prophetically reveals his faith in what GOD had previously told him concerning HIS covenant with him, which included Isaac (Gen. 17:19). First of all, in verse 5, Abraham tells his servants to “Stay with the donkey, the boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there (on Mount Moriah), and then we will come right back”.
Then, in verse 8, in response to his son Isaac’s question of, “Where is the lamb for sacrifice?” Abraham tells him, GOD will provide a lamb my son”. These two statements by Abraham show that even in his sub-conscience, he had full trust and faith in the LORD, and he had come to trust HIM more completely as the years went by. He knew that GOD expected him to obey, and he was willing to go the distance, sacrificing the only son he had left, at an age that far exceeded 100 years old. And the writer of the Book of Hebrews (Heb. 11:19) says that he also reasoned that GOD could raise Isaac from the dead if need be, in order to keep HIS Covenant.
There is a three-step lesson in “faith” that is timeless, and it will benefit us all to learn it at as early an age as possible. Abraham had to learn it in his lifetime, and so do we as Christians living in the twenty-first century. The Apostle Paul lists “faith” as one of the three great enduring things, along with “hope” and “love” (1 Cor. 13:13). It has not changed since the beginning, and it will not change throughout the rest of eternity.
We must learn first that “faith always obeys completely, the Word of GOD”. Secondly, “faith surrenders the best to GOD, and holds nothing back”. And thirdly, “faith always waits on GOD to provide all that is needed in life”.
Throughout scripture, the lamb is presented as the primary, and most frequently requested sacrificial animal by GOD, and, in fact, over time has become the personification, or symbol of innocence and harmlessness. Here in Genesis 22, Abraham was fully willing to sacrifice his innocent, harmless son up to GOD on the fire, and there is no evidence in this passage, that even suggests to us, that Isaac went kicking and screaming as his father placed him there.
Symbolically, JESUS, the innocent, harmless LAMB of GOD, did willing go to the cross to sacrifice HIMSELF, in agreement with the Will of HIS FATHER GOD. HE did not go kicking and screaming, but rather, HE went willingly, and was non-resistant. HE took our place, just as the ram that was caught in the bush, took Isaac’s place on the fire. And now, as a result, today every man, woman, and child, that has faith enough to “pass the test” and “believe GOD”, has what it takes to overcome the gravitational pull of this world, and enter “for free”, on the sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, into the Kingdom of Heaven.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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