By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,…
I. ABRAHAM WHEN HE WAS TRIED. Some lives abound in tests, others are marvellously free from trial. Some are let off with few lessons, others destined for exalted service have hard tasks to master and difficult problems to solve. Observe how Abraham had been tried all along. When at the outset he left his country, and during his subsequent journeyings, the Divine command became more and more explicit. Meanwhile, as a providential antithesis, Abraham was gradually stripped of his earlier associates. His father died at Haran. Then came to him the repetition of the old command, with the significant addition to leave his "father's house." This involved his leaving his brother Nahor and family. Later on even Lot separated from him under conditions which must have made the separation doubly painful. When, therefore, the command came to offer up Isaac the trial reached its greatest depth and intensity. There are crucial tests in every true life, for which every preceding trial has prepared the way. Such was this supreme test in Abraham's life. The greatness of the test appears in the exceptional character of the demand. It appeared as a direct contradiction of God's promise. The detail was painful in the extreme.
II. THE OBEDIENCE OF ABRAHAM WAS —
1. Prompt. The command came in the night. Early in the morning Abraham "rose up," &c. Nothing was said to Sarah, to Isaac, or to the young men, that would have made Abraham's obedience to that command more difficult. The obedience was as spontaneous as the command startling.
2. Persistent. Abraham had the sustaining force which enabled him to maintain his purpose unwaveringly during the trying period of suspense between the command and the full obedience to it.
3. Perfect. When Abraham lifted up the knife the sacrifice was complete. Isaac had already been sacrificed upon the altar of a father's heart. Only the tragedy, and not the real sacrifice, was prevented.
III. Further, GOD SUPPLEMENTED ABRAHAM'S OBEDIENCE, AND COMPLETED THE PROVISION FOR THE SATISFACTION OF HIS OWN COMMANDMENT, BY POINTING TO THE RAM IN THE THICKET. The great principle had already been enunciated by Abraham, "God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." The question of Isaac which called forth this answer — "Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" — is the representative question of the world. Man in all ages has been seeking a lamb for a burnt offering. Abraham's answer is the reply of God in Jesus Christ. The history of sacrifices outside the Christian religion is the history of man offering sacrifices to God; the story of the Christian religion is that of God offering a perfect sacrifice for man.
Parallel VersesKJV: By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,