Sun, Nov 04, 2007

THE GOSPEL IN GENESIS? GENESIS 22:1-19

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
THE GOSPEL IN GENESIS?
GENESIS 22:1-19

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis chapter 22 as we see how the faith of Abraham has grown and something that you might not expect to see in the book of Genesis. In fact, you would not even expect to see this in the Old Testament and that is THE GOSPEL MESSAGE!  Before we get to our text this morning, let me share with you this story and how the Good News of Jesus, of how the Gospel message can transform a life. We are told:

If you were born after 1950, you might not know the story of Ben Hur. This classic book written by a Civil War general, Lew Wallace, in 1899, was turned into a movie starring Charleton Heston, which won the Academy Award for best movie in 1959. It is a towering story of love, of suffering, of the struggle of good against evil, and finally of triumph. Judah Ben Hur, the story’s hero, grows up with his boyhood friend, Marsalla. They are ancient, Mideastern Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Judah is, of course, a Jew, and Marsalla, a Gentile. Judah is the heir of a very great and wealthy house in Jerusalem. Marsalla is a promising military man who trained in Rome as a soldier, then returned to Jerusalem as the leader of the Roman occupation forces.

During a parade, a tile falls from the roof of Judah Ben Hur’s house and strikes the new Roman rule. Judah is falsely arrested and sent to row as a slave in a Roman military ship. Marsalla knew it was an accident and could have prevented Judah’s arrest, but because of his lust for power, didn’t. In addition, Judah’s mother and sister are imprisoned in Jerusalem.

Judah hates Marsalla, and while in the belly of the military ship, providing the power for naval warfare, he vows that he will live, return to Jerusalem and free his mother and sister. Slaves in such ships rarely lived for more than a year. Judah had been rowing for three years when, in the heat of a naval battle, his ship was sunk. He saved the commander of the ship, and as a reward, was given his freedom and adopted by the commander, who was the top naval officer in the Roman navy, a very powerful and wealthy man.

He returns to Jerusalem with all the wealth and power of his new identity, and confronts the astonished Marsalla, who assumed he had been dead for years. Ben Hur demanded that Marsalla find and release from prison his mother and sister. Marsalla finds them in prison, but they have leprosy, so he whisks them away to the leper colony outside Jerusalem to live out a pitiful existence. Ben Hur is told that they are dead. His hate for Marsalla grows, and in a chariot race in which Marsalla and Judah Ben Hur are the primary figures, Marsalla is killed. With his dying breath, Marsalla, out of spite, tells Judah the truth about his mother and sister.

Judah’s hate now no longer has an object to focus on. He generalizes his hatred and becomes a bitter shell of his former self. Finally, in desperation he goes to the leper colony to get his mother and sister to take them to Jesus, this great preacher who has been performing miracles. When they get to Jerusalem where they think they will find Him, they discover that He has just been crucified. Now, all hope is gone, and despair settles over them. However, in the hours and earthquakes rocked the city, Judah’s mother and sister are healed of the leprosy, and Judah’s heart, along with his mother’s and sister’s, is turned to Jesus. Their faith, their health and their lives are restored.

It is a towering story, deeply moving, and an exquisite portrayal of the power, grace and love of Jesus. Why did I tell you about Ben Hur? Because of this interesting twist. As Paul Harvey would say, this is “the rest of the story.” When Lew Wallace set out to study the life of Christ, he was not a Christian. In fact, writing a story such as Ben Hur was the farthest thing from his mind. Wallace was antagonistic toward Christianity, and determined he would study the life of Christ so thoroughly, and then write so convincingly, that he would be able to kill the story of Christ. He wanted to prove that Jesus, if He had lived, was not God, but merely a man, that He never rose from the dead, and that Christianity was a hoax.

So he studied. This great and enormous subject drew him further and further into his research until the evidence overwhelmed him. He dropped to his knees and cried out to Jesus to be his Savior and Lord. Then, instead of writing a book to prove to the world that Jesus was not God, he wrote Ben Hur, to try to prove to the world that Jesus was God.

       Max Anders, Jesus, Knowing Our Savior, pp. 98-100

            This morning we will see how God took an idol-worshiping gentile and not only brought him to saving faith but also helped his faith to grow, to mature to the point where Abraham will not argue, complain, even lie before God but he will walk by faith because he trusts in the promises of God to him!

            To help set the stage for what we will be talking about this morning here in Genesis chapter 22, let me give you some background information regarding Abraham. In Genesis chapter 12 God promised Abraham and his descendents that they would become a great nation, that they would live in the land of Canaan, the Promise Land.

            That sounds great but Sarah his wife is barren, she could not get pregnant. And for 25 years they waited for the promise of God to come to pass. And during that time their faith waxed and waned, back and forth, but it was growing. Then, at the age of ninety-nine for Abraham and eighty-nine for Sarah, God spoke to them and told them that at the appointed time next year they would have a son and his name would be called Isaac and “Laughter” which Isaac’s name means, was born!

            What joy, every time they saw Isaac they must have laughed in joy over the goodness of God. Now, for some 33 years they have enjoyed this son of promise – Isaac.  But, things are going to change; Abraham’s faith is going to be tested, not necessarily to stretch it but to show Abraham how it had grown, matured. How that he is now walking by faith and not by sight! With that said, let’s begin reading in Genesis chapter 22, starting in verse 1 and see what the Lord has for us as we study His Word!

GENESIS 22:1-19

            Now on Thursday we covered this story in great detail, and thus, I want to focus on another aspect of what transpired here. You see, I believe the Holy Spirit is painting for us a picture of what would take place some 2,000 years down the road from Abraham.  It is the story of another Father and Son and how the ultimate sacrifice was made. You see, Abraham is giving to us a sneak preview of the coming attraction and we will see that as we go through this story this morning.

            David said in Psalm 40:7, Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me.’  In other words, out of the Old Testament are pictures, types of Jesus for us. In fact, from Genesis through the book of Revelation is the story of God’s love for sinful man and His redemption of us!  Now, let’s jump ahead to John 8:56-59 as Jesus is speaking to the Jewish religious leaders and tells them, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’  Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

            Please don’t miss the point that Jesus is making here, as many do. He is saying that He is the great I AM of Exodus chapter 3.  He is the voice from the burning bush.  He is God!  Thus, the Jewish religious leaders wanted to kill Him for they would not believe that He is God!

            There is another interesting point here and that is when Jesus said, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’”  John 8:56.  When did Abraham see this day of salvation that Jesus was speaking of, this Good News, the Gospel message?  I believe it is here in Genesis chapter 22 as Abraham and Isaac are acting out the Gospel message some 2,000 years before it happens!  Now you may see this as being far-fetched, but listen closely to how the Holy Spirit paints this picture for us.

1.  TAKE YOUR ONLY SON – GENESIS 22:2

            I find this interesting because Abraham had two sons. He had Ishmael, born through Hagar the maidservant of Sarah. And then through Sarah Isaac was born. Now, as we have seen in our study through Genesis, Ishmael was not the son of promise, but the son of the flesh and God does not recognize the works of our flesh and thus, He does not recognize Ishmael.  He only recognizes Isaac, the son of promise, Abraham’s only son in God’s eyes!

            In a sense God has two sons. The first was Adam and because of his sin the human race would be contaminated with sin and death. Thus, in a sense he is a son of the flesh, not recognized to bring about salvation.  The other Son is Jesus or God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.  Thus, Jesus tells us in John 3:16-17, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

You see, Abraham is a type of God the Father willing to sacrifice his only son, to shed his blood so that sin may be covered just as God the Father was willing to sacrifice His Son, to shed His blood so that sins of the world may be forgiven, cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more!

2.  ON MOUNT MORIAH – GENESIS 22:2

            God also instructed Abraham that this sacrifice was to take place on a specific mountain; he was not just to do it anywhere he wanted.  The place was Mount Moriah and on this range of mountains the Temple would stand one day and also, across from the Temple on this same mountain range is a place we know as Calvary or Golgotha in Hebrew. It is known as the place of the skull and I believe God instructed Abraham to take Isaac to the place where Jesus would be crucified some 2,000 years later!  Not a coincidence, God is orchestrating these events to fit the picture of what would take place. In fact, Moriah means, “foreseen of Jehovah” and thus, God knew where and when this would take place and He wanted Abraham and Isaac to act this out to give us this picture!  God not only foresaw the sin of man but He also foresaw the redemption of man through His finished work on the cross of Calvary!

3.  OFFER HIM THERE – GENESIS 22:2

            The Hebrew word for offer is ALAH, (aw-law’) and it speaks of lifting up. Thus, God is instructing Abraham to lift up Isaac as a sacrifice. I find that interesting because Jesus said in John 12:32, And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.  The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, And I, if and when I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross], will draw and attract all men [Gentiles as well as Jews] to Myself.  Just as Isaac was to be lifted up as a sacrifice, Jesus would be literally lifted up as He was crucified on the cross of Calvary!

4.  THREE DAYS – GENESIS 22:3-6

            Notice how his faith had grown. God told him to go and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice and early in the morning he got up and heads towards the mountains of Moriah, which is about 50 miles away from Beersheba or about a 3-day journey.  Now, how does that relate to Jesus and what He has done?  I believe that Abraham started out on this journey and in his mind Isaac was already dead. In a sense, “Dead man walking!” And, as we will see, it is on that third day that the life of Isaac is spared or that Isaac was raised up on the third day!

            I realize that you may see this as a stretch, but I don’t believe it is. You see, in Hebrews 11:17-19 Paul tells us, By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.  The Amplified Bible drives this point home even more! It says, By faith Abraham, when he was put to the test [while the testing of his faith was still in progress], had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God's] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son, [Gen 22:1-10.] Of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned. [Gen 21:12.] For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead [potentially sacrificed], he did [actually] receive him back from the dead.  You see, in Abraham’s mind Isaac was dead and God was going to have to raise him from the dead to fulfill His promise to Abraham and his descendents, that through his seed not only would his descendents be blessed but so too will the nations of the world be blessed!

            Now, how long was Jesus dead, how long was He in the tomb?  He was in the tomb 3 days and 3 nights!  Jesus said in Matthew 12:40, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  And that is exactly what transpired, Jesus rose from the grave on that third day, that Sunday morning!

5.  ISAAC CARRIED THE WOOD – GENESIS 22:6

            Here we see the wood for the sacrifice laid upon the back of Isaac and he carried the wood to the spot where he would be sacrificed.  That should also remind us of what Jesus did. He carried the cross of wood to the place He was going to be crucified!  In John 19:12-18 we are told, From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, ‘If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.’ When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’ But they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar!’ Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away.  And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.” Thus, as Isaac carried the wood upon his shoulders to the place he was to be sacrificed, so too did our Lord carry the cross to Calvary!

6.  THE JUDGMENT OF GOD IN THE FATHER’S HAND – GENESIS 22:6

            As they traveled up to Mount Moriah, Abraham took the fire, which speaks of judgment and the knife, which speaks of the execution of judgment and of sacrifice.  It is a picture of what God the Father would do, pouring out the wrath of God upon Jesus, the wrath that was due us but Jesus took it upon Himself as He bore the sins of the world!

7.  GOD WILL PROVIDE HIMSELF – GENESIS 22:7-8

            As they are getting closer to the spot of the sacrifice, Isaac is wondering where the sacrifice is. They have everything else they need but the sacrifice.  And Abraham makes a remarkable statement here, obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit. He says, God will provide Himself as the sacrifice!  He does not say, “God will provide for Himself the lamb,” the word “for” is not in there and thus, God will provide Himself as the Lamb!

            Remember when John the Baptist saw Jesus in John 1:29 and he said of Jesus,

“ . . . ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’  Do you see the picture that is being painted for us here in Genesis? I believe it is very clear, God has provided Himself as the Sacrifice, He is the sacrificial lamb!

            In Isaiah 53:4-7 we see how the Messiah is spoken of as we read, Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. Again, He not only took our sins upon Himself, but He was the sacrificial lamb lead to the slaughter!

            In Revelation 5:6 we see Jesus portrayed once again as a sacrificial lamb only this time the sacrifice is completed. Notice what we are told here, And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain . . .” Also, in I Peter 1:18-21 Peter tells us,knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Yes, God has provided Himself as that sacrifice for our sins, once and for all they have been paid, as Peter tells us in I Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

8.  FREELY HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE – GENESIS 22:9-10

            When we think of Isaac we tend to see him as this little boy but he wasn’t!  Isaac was probably 33 years old at this point, the same age as Jesus was when He freely laid down His life for us.  Thus, if Isaac wanted to leave, he could have overpowered his dad, he could have ran away from his dad, but he didn’t. He freely laid down his life as a sacrifice!

            What a beautiful picture of Jesus and how He freely gave His life for us. He was not forced into it, but He laid down His life willingly. That is what Jesus said in John 10:17-18,Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

            Also, remember in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Luke 22:39-42 we are told,Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’  You see, He was obedient to the Father and He was willing to lay down His life as a sacrifice for us!

9.  ISAAC LAID ON THE WOOD – GENESIS 22:9

            Abraham takes his son and places him on the altar, lays him on the wood.  That is also interesting because Jesus was placed upon the wooden cross; He laid down upon it and was nailed to it! Jesus said in John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.  And Paul tells us in Romans 5:6-8, For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

            Now God never intended Abraham to sacrifice his son but was showing Abraham his faith, how it has grown and to illustrate for us what another Father was going to do by sacrificing His only begotten Son!  Thus, the angel of the Lord or Jesus prevents him from going through with this and Abraham sees a ram that is stuck in the thistle and offers this animal up as a sacrifice instead. What does that mean to us today?

            Simply, it is not by our sacrifices or our good works that we can be saved. It is only by the shed blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Thus, a ram for Abraham and not a lamb because there is only one Lamb of God who can come and take away the sins of the world and in Abraham’s day it was still some 2,000 years down the road before the Messiah would come.  The Lamb of God was coming and has come, Jesus has paid in full the penalty for our sins!

10. ABRAHAM COMES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN – GENESIS 22:19

            Here is an interesting point that you may miss. It only says that Abraham came down from the mountain, where was Isaac?  Where did Isaac go? I believe Isaac was with Abraham, they both came down together, but the Holy Spirit edits that out for us to make the type, to paint the picture. Keep in mind that Abraham is a picture of God the Father, Isaac is a picture of God the Son, but what about the Holy Spirit? Hold on and I will show you!

            In Genesis chapter 24 Sarah has died and Abraham is old, and Isaac is still not married yet!  So Abraham sends his servant, Eliezer according to Genesis 15:2, to go and find a wife for Isaac and Abraham tells him to go alone, don’t take Isaac with him. So Eliezer finds Rebekah and brings her back and the next time we see Isaac in the Scriptures is when he meets his bride, Rebekah.

            How does that fit the picture of Christ?  When Jesus died and rose on the third day, after He was taken up into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father, the Father sent the Holy Spirit into the world to work.  Now, interestingly enough, the word used for Holy Spirit can mean “comforter” and the name “Eliezer” means comforter!  So just as Eliezer went out to look for a bride for Isaac, so too the Holy Spirit was sent to draw out a bride for Jesus, which is the church!  And when that last person gets saved, the Lord comes back for His bride, the church and we are gathered together to meet the Lord, our Bridegroom, in the air and then the judgment comes!

            You see, Jesus doesn’t return to the earth for His bride because the next time He comes to the earth it is for judgment at the end of the Tribulation Period and He comes then with His Bride, the church and after that the Kingdom Age is established. Thus, just as Isaac was not seen again until he met his bride, we will not see Jesus again until He comes for His Bride, which is getting closer! Thus, the picture is completed. We have Abraham as a type of God the Father, Isaac as a type of God the Son and Eliezer as a type of God the Holy Spirit!

            As I begin to close this morning I hope you have seen that what Abraham, Isaac and Eliezer have done here in Genesis is just a foreshadow of what God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will do, have done and are doing right now, bringing the Good News, the Gospel message to a lost and dying world. You see, The Gospel is found here in Genesis chapter 22 as what was hidden in the Old Testament is opened up to us as we read the New Testament!

            Of this, Charles Hodge wrote:

“The gospel is God’s message of mercy to humanity. It contains an exhibition of the plan, and the only plan, of salvation. It sets forth the person, the work, and the offices of Christ, and urges all to whom it comes to accept Christ as their God and Savior, and to devote themselves to His worship and service; and it assures those who do so that they shall never perish, but shall have eternal life. In one sense it is everyone’s duty, provided he or she has received the knowledge of the gospel, to preach it, to make it known to others. The commission and command—‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15)—is given not to the apostles exclusively, but to the whole church and all its members. Every member has the right and the obligation to make known this great salvation to his fellow humans.”

- Charles Hodge

            Bob Woods tells the story of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns. As always, when the tour reached the deepest point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth's surface. The little girl, suddenly enveloped in utter darkness, was frightened and began to cry. Immediately was heard the voice of her brother: "Don't cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights." In a real sense, that is the message of the gospel: light is available, even when darkness seems overwhelming.

- Bob Woods, Pulpit Digest

            As I close this morning, remember what Paul said in I Corinthians 15:1-4, it is the Gospel message, the Good News of Jesus Christ! He wrote, Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

            Jesus was crucified on Calvary, which is on Mount Moriah; He was buried in a tomb for three days and three nights, and then arose triumphantly over the grave. And He is coming for His Bride, the church as right now the Holy Spirit is drawing out His Bride.  Here is the question, have you trusted the Lamb of God to take away your sins and save you?  That is what this is all about, won’t you make that commitment to Him today and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior, to forgive you of your sins and He will and you will enter into everlasting life with Him! That is Good News! That is THE GOSPEL MESSAGE that was hidden in the Old Testament but comes bursting forth as clear as a bright shinning day in the New Testament.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17. Won’t you believe?

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