Gospel Wednesday | How the Story of Joseph Points to Jesus Christ

GWToday, will be our last post for this week. We’ll be taking a break for Thanksgiving through the weekend. Last week we took a look at the story of Noah and how it points us to Jesus Christ. This week we’ll be fast-forwarding through Genesis to the story of Joseph, to see how God used the life of Joseph to foreshadow Jesus Christ. For this teaching, we’ll be listening to an episode of Fighting for the Faith with Chris Rosebrough.

For The Students Of Liberty University

PROGRAM SEGMENTS:
00:00:00 – A Look at How the Story of Joseph Points to Jesus Christ
01:26:14 – Sermon Review: Dare to Dream by Brian Houston at Liberty University

Email your questions or comments to: talkback@fightingforthefaith.com

We recommend following along in your bibles, beginning in Genesis 37.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Unholy like Esau

CTTToday’s Completing The Thought (CTT) post will be a short Bible study. We live in a time where playing the victim seems to be the highest virtue in society. Playing the victim will excuse your actions, statements, lying, perjury, vitriol, and bigotry… as long as you can muster up a claim at playing “the real victim” in all of it. While the foolish, unbelieving world clamors in the dark in all of this… we who are of the Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ have no such excuse.

Suffering Just or Unjust Punishment

Let us begin by making clear that there is a difference between being a victim and playing the victim. Whenever someone is wronged (or sinned against) they are a victim of the wrong. Sometimes, however, the suffering endured by the victim is the due penalty of the victim’s sin. The wages of sin is death. Those who die in unbelief will be punished, and that punishment will not make them the victim of God’s Wrath, but the recipients of the due punishment for their sin of unbelief. There are a couple of places we could go to work this out, but for today’s scenario I want to begin in 1 Peter 2.

1 Peter 2:18-25 (ESV)

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

So, then, is there any real credit for enduring just punishment? No. However, for those times where we endure punishment that is unjust, we are taking part in the suffering of Christ, and there will be great reward laid up for us in Heaven for it. I love the Gospel clearly written in this short passage, too. The Apostle Paul often referred to his sufferings for the sake of the cross as his privilege to join in Christ’s suffering. I think that is a vital way of looking at it in the tribulation that is coming, and in some ways already is here.

Do Not Grow Weary

With this idea in place, let us now look to what the Writer of Hebrews wrote after his review of the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11). As the writer move on to encourage his audience in the Faith, we will see a clear reference to Esau.

Hebrews 12:1-17 (ESV)

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

Is it not fascinating to you, that Esau would be the first example of unholiness mentioned after the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11? And of all of the names we might consider as the example of sexual immorality and unholiness, why Esau? The focal point is in the selling of his birthright. The context here is one of believers having been adopted into the Kingdom of God by faith. By faith we are made heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. As sons we are being disciplined by God to take part in holiness. Those who are left without discipline are described as illegitimate children, not sons. Let us review the story of Jacob and Esau and a bowl of stew.

Esau Sells His Birthright

We reviewed the story of Jacob and Esau a while back. We were focused on the fact that God had chosen Jacob over Esau. This time, we are going to look at segments related to what the writer of Hebrews describes as the immoral and unholy character of Esau.

Genesis 25:29-34 (ESV)

29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

For a bit of stew… Esau despised his birthright. Had Esau earned that birthright? No. It was his by the Grace of having been born first. We, the readers, know at this time that God had already made clear that He had already chosen Jacob as Isaac’s heir… but such transfer of blessing had not yet taken place. In the flesh, Esau is the firstborn son of Isaac, and it is his birthright. Not only the wealth and riches accumulated by Isaac (and passed down from Abraham), but also the Promise of the Messiah and the promises of God to Abraham. Esau lacked faith, and despised this birthright for the sake of something as empty and temporal as a bowl of stew.

In our present culture, we’d no-doubt see trending hashtags painting Jacob as the predator, who took advantage of Esau’s hunger to steal his birthright. That Esau was the victim of Jacob’s craftiness. Later, we’ll see Esau blame Jacob, too… and when he does, he won’t accept responsibility for this act of selling his birthright to Jacob. As we continue reading in Genesis, notice that in the very next account, God appears to Isaac reminding him of the Promise of Abraham and confirms His promise to Isaac and his offspring. The reader is being reminded of the significance of the birthright that Esau despised. As read in Chapter 27, we see Isaac desiring to grant a blessing to his son, Esau. We discussed this in our last review of this passage, where Rebekah, knowing the Word of the Lord concerning Jacob and Esau, that God had chosen Jacob over Esau, devised a plan to prevent Isaac from disobeying the Word of the Lord concerning Esau. As the plan unfolds, Isaac gives the following blessing to Jacob, thinking he was Esau:

Genesis 27:26-37 (ESV)

26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,

“See, the smell of my son
    is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
    and of the fatness of the earth
    and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
    and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
    and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
    and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.”36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?

Genesis 27:41 (ESV) 41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

So, Esau, turns to murderous intentions, while playing the victim of Jacob. Scripture doesn’t see it this way. In fact, Scripture ascribes unholiness and immorality to Esau, while including Jacob in the hall of faith. Was Jacob a more righteous person? No… we are all sinners. Esau despised his birthright and sold it for a bowl of stew. Esau had taken Hittite wives, thus his sexual immorality, for he had married ungodly women outside of the Promise. Jacob, had faith, Esau did not.

Conclusion

Esau is presented as the warning sign for sexual immorality and unholiness, for despising his birthright. This was being presented within the context of being made sons and daughters of the LORD God by faith in Jesus Christ. Do not for the sake of temporal relief, despise your birthright in Christ Jesus. Confess Jesus before men. Forgive those who sin against you. Hold fast to the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. 

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Worship or Entertainment?

Tickets to Worship for Entertainment?

Tickets to Worship or for Entertainment?

Looking back over our first year of blogging, it is clear that the most visited feature of this site is our Discernment in Music (DiM) where we take a Biblical look at the most popular songs being played on “Christian Radio” today. The concern is that we’ve allowed our minds and hearts to be filled with anything calling itself “Christian” without carefully examining what is being conveyed by these songs either directly or by inference. Many of these songs are working their way into Churches for “Praise and Worship”, so we really need to make sure what we preach (with or without musical accompaniment) is in keeping with sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

Toward the end of the Fall, we here in the Georgia started getting a lot of concert events hosted by local Churches and Christian Radio stations. There are some Artists who draw large crowds these days all on their own: Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Toby Mac. In some of the more remote/rural areas, it’s hard to get one of the big names to do a concert so what event planners will do is set up Music Festivals to bring several artists together. Local stations will often promote these events heavily, offering free tickets as incentives for community engagement, but for the most part tickets to the event are purchased for anywhere from $15 to $35 per adult. Touring, ticket sales, and Album/iTunes sales are the basis for the careers of these musicians and their production team. This is their job. This is what they do to earn their salaries. Yet, within the Christian Community, we also include all of this as their Ministry. Is that true in every case?

***Edit: Some artists do the concert events for free so that ticket sales can go toward a local Charity or fund raiser. These should still not be sold as “worship”, but I wanted to make it clear that the money isn’t always going to the artists***

At the close of one such musical event last fall (2014), there was a comment made that seemed to stop everything in its tracks… like in the movies where someone makes an awkward comment in a huge house party and everyone freezes and you hear the Vinyl Record come to a screeching halt.

“…So come on out and join us on [Day] starting at [Time] for a night of worship and celebration…”

Are we paying for the opportunity to worship God, or are we paying for a night of musical entertainment? I can understand if you just rolled your eyes, or let out a sigh of exasperation… but while you are still here and reading, think about the question one more time. What are we paying for to attend one of these concert events? What is the advertisement on Christian radio actually selling? Are they selling a chance to experience skillful music and dazzling lights or are they selling “worship”? Let’s pause that thought for the moment, to consider its implications.

Entertainment

I’m not implying that there is anything inherently wrong with entertainment. I attended a Tim Hawkins comedy show at a local church on a Friday night. Nothing wrong with laughter, and Tim Hawkins is a professing Christian. His theology for the most part is sound, and he’s quite skilled as a musician and he understands comedy well. However, despite the fact that he plays the guitar, his event wasn’t advertised a worship event. The call to attend was to enjoy a night of comedy. Laughter isn’t a form of worship found in the Bible. Tim does try to present the Gospel during a set or between bits, but we aren’t buying tickets to a sermon, and they aren’t trying to sell sermon tickets. I can’t imagine anyone in attendance thinking to themselves, “wow, I’m really worshiping Jesus right now by enjoying these jokes”. It simply isn’t what we consider to be an act of worship, and rightly so. Can the Gospel be preached at such an event? Absolutely. Can something funny be shared in a sermon without drawing away from the Word of God? Yes. But we don’t confuse the two categories. One is entertainment, the other is Church, but everything can point to Christ (and we should endeavor to point to Christ in all that we do).

Worship

Let’s talk a little bit about Worship as it is described in the Bible. Searching (admittedly I’m not searching in the Hebrew) in the ESV for “worship”, the earliest mentions of the word are in conjunction with offering of sacrifices to God.

Genesis 22:1-5 (ESV) | The Sacrifice of Isaac
1 After these things God tested Abraham and 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 of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”

There isn’t always a mention of a burnt offering. In place of a burnt offering, there is sometimes a prayer of thanksgiving or of praise clearly uttered to the Lord God, such as in the case of Jacob’s servant when tasked with finding a suitable wife for Isaac.

Genesis 24:12-28 (ESV) | A Wife for Isaac
12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink.19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. 21 The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.

22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23 and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” 26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord 27 and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” 28 Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things.

Before the Law, and the Mosaic covenant, this is what the Lord God considered to be Worship. We know this, because this portion of the Law was dictated to Moses by God. But we also know that the Laws within the Mosaic Covenant defined right Worship, and that God made clear that Israel was NOT to worship God ways that they learned from the fallen world. Rather than pick through the Old Testament, let us jump to the book of Hebrews, to see this explained after the cross of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:1-14 (ESV) | The Earthly Holy Place
1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Let’s unpack this a bit. The Laws, the specific rituals of the priesthood and of the people (offerings, washings, consecration/fasting, etc.) and the blood of animals where all regulations of worship. This is what it was to Worship the Living God under the Old Covenant. All of these forms of worship pointed to Jesus Christ whose blood would finally succeed where previous forms of worship failed, in that it would purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. What are we to do now? We still offer sacrifices to God in our worship, but what sacrifices do we offer?

Hebrews 13 (ESV) | Sacrifices Pleasing to God
1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you.

Declaring the mighty works of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and bearing the reproach of the world are pleasing acts of worship. Music isn’t even mentioned here. Does that make music sinful? Nope. It doesn’t make music anything. We’ve over-cooked the role of music in our modern-day understanding of “Worship”. We’ve done it in our churches and we’ve done it on the Radio, and we’ve done it in our Entertainment.

Conclusion

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being entertained, especially not in a God-honoring format. That doesn’t mean that such entertainment also qualifies as “worship”. But how you conduct yourself in such environments matters. We were created to worship God, but our sinful nature is eager to worship anything other than God. Most often our sinful flesh urges us to worship ourselves and our desires. And we tend to do so much more flamboyantly than we do for God… and this was true even in the Old Testament (Exodus 32). Christians who attend concerts for entertainment simply need to guard their hearts from false teaching and false worship. Having a “praise band” in your church is fine, if what they are doing is indeed an act of worship to the Living God and not a form of entertainment for the congregation (that’s a very difficult “if” to evaluate by the way). The “praise band” does not worship God for the congregation, even when they are doing it well with the right heart. The call to worship is for everyone, not just the ones on the stage, and we dare not “sell” opportunities to Worship a Living God. Can ministry happen at such events? Yes. Can worship take place at such events? yes. Is that what we should be selling? No.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Abraham and Isaac | Pointing to the Cross

??????????Today, I wanted to share a wonderful look at Genesis 22, where God tests Abraham. Those of you who attend a foundational, bible-teaching, church should already have been presented with this view of the story. However, as society and the evangelical community drifts further and further away from bible teaching, I think we should take some time to check it out now.

Genesis 22 (ESV)

1 After these things God tested Abraham and 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 of which I shall tell you.”

His only son Isaac? Why is God ignoring the fact that Abram had already fathered Ishmael by Hagar? Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah 13 years later. God’s covenant with Abraham (circumcision) was established when he was 99 years old. At the time of their circumcision, Ishmael is referred to as Abraham’s son. So is this a contradiction? Absolutely not. Let’s look at what God said of Ishmael specifically regarding God’s covenant with Abraham for all of mankind, His Promise of the Messiah.

Genesis 17:15-21 (ESV) 15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

God was very clear about Isaac being the son of Promise, the son with whom God will keep His covenant with Abraham. Yes, He heard Abraham’s request for Ishmael to be blessed, and Ishmael was blessed (while still being a wild donkey of a man…). But Sarah was upset when she witnessed Ishmael laughing at Isaac, and implored Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.

Genesis 21:10-13 (ESV) 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.”

God does make a nation of Ishmael. However, God’s promise to Abraham, for his namesake, for the lineage of the Messiah, is through Isaac, not Ishmael. Therefore, with respect to God’s promise to Abraham, God’s covenant with Abraham, there is only one son, Isaac. There is no “back-up”… plan B was rejected before plan A was even implemented. No turning back. Therefore, when God told Abraham to sacrifice “his only son”, He wasn’t miss counting offspring, He was letting Abraham know that He was fully aware that Isaac was the sole bearer of Abraham’s namesake, the only son by which God declared His promise to Abraham. This is significant, because what follows next points directly at the cross.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Praise the Lord. Next, let’s take a look at where God send Abraham for the sacrifice, to the land of Moriah, to a mountain He will show Abraham. Now, this is long before the captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, and the Law of Moses. Before Israel is lead into the Promised Land. Before King David and King Solomon. But notice the location of where King Solomon built the Temple of the Lord:

2 Chronicles 3:1 (ESV) 1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

How cool is that? Even more interesting, is that if you’ll remember your history, when the Second Temple was built (after the Babylonian exile), the Temple remained in the same place, and maintained its same dimensions, but Herod wanted to make it more grand in nature, so he widened the temple mount… essentially creating a plateau of the hills around Mount Moriah, so that the Temple Mount was extended around the Temple. Jesus was crucified outside the city, on a hill of Moriah… where Abraham was lead to sacrifice “his only son” as a burnt offering to the Lord God. Let us continue on with the story.

Genesis 22:33 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

Isaac carried the wood for the burnt offering, the sacrifice. We read in  John 19:16b-17 (ESV) “So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.” Praise the Lord.

Genesis 22:9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter 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, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Now here, we have the provision of God. God provides the sacrifice. Yes, Jesus was born of a virgin, and was fully man, the offspring of Abraham provided by God. God intervened so that mankind might by saved, spared from the judgement. Have you ever wondered about the crown of thorns they placed on Jesus head? Notice the ram provided by God as a substitutionary sacrifice on man’s behalf, is caught in a thicket by his horns.

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

We see here that God is again letting Abraham know that the Messiah is coming from his offspring because he obeyed the voice of the Lord God. Praise be to our Lord and Savior. In closing, I’d like to borrow from the Apostle Paul’s closing of his letter to the Romans:

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) 16 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
In Him,

Jorge