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LIFE LESSONS FROM ABRAHAM AND ISAAC

(SERMON #85 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, November 29, 2015

“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25, 27).


Christ told His Disciples that Moses and all the prophets spoke of Him. The Old Testament gives many pictures of Christ. They are word pictures of Jesus, and of God. The greatest preaching in all history occurred in the time of the Book of Acts – before the New Testament was written. What did they preach? They preached of God and Christ from the Old Testament! Some of the greatest sermons I have ever heard were from the Old Testament. My long-time pastor Dr. Timothy Lin was a great Old Testament scholar. After fifty years, I can still remember his sermon on Jeremiah 1:10, his sermon on Daniel 10:13, 20, 21, on Malachi 4:6, and on Genesis 3:21. One of the greatest sermons I have ever heard was Dr. R. G. Lee’s “Payday Someday” – on the judgment of Ahab and Jezebel – which was preached from the Old Testament book of I Kings. And I will never forget personally hearing Dr. M. R. DeHaan preach a series of sermons from Ezekiel 37 to 39. I also heard a recording of portions of Dr. W. A. Criswell’s five-hour sermon, “The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible,” preached on New Year’s Eve, 1961, at the great First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. When you have five hours some time, you can hear a recording of it at www.wacriswell.org. More than half of that powerful sermon is an exposition of the entire Old Testament! I also heard Dr. J. Vernon McGee almost every day for about ten years, as he taught the entire Old Testament on the radio. From these great men of God I learned to trust and to love the Old Testament. And I learned that Jesus Christ is foretold on nearly every page of the Old Testament. Sometimes He is foretold in specific words, such as, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). At other times He is spoken of by pictures or types. As we saw this morning, a type is a person, place or thing in the Old Testament that pictures a person, place or thing in the New Testament.

The 22nd chapter of Genesis is very rich in types of God the Father, and Christ the Son. I want you to turn there in your Bible. It is on pages 32 and 33 of the Scofield Study Bible. Please keep your Bible open there throughout this sermon.

Genesis 22 is one of the greatest Christological passages in the Old Testament. In Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, we read the prophecy of Christ’s suffering for our sin. But in Genesis 22 we learn clearly that Jesus Christ is the substitutionary sacrifice. And we are also given a picture of God the Father and man in sin. I have read this great chapter over and over, and I think we can safely say that it

pictures Abraham as a type of the true Christian,
pictures Abraham as a type of God the Father.

That it

pictures his son, Isaac as a type of Christ,
and it pictures Isaac as a type of a lost sinner, as well.

Here then are those pictures or types.

I. First, the passage pictures the testing of Christians.

Look at Genesis 22:1, 2,

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:1, 2).

The word translated “tempt” is too strong. It is translated as “tested” in the NASV. Dr. Ryrie said, “God does not tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13), but...He does test, try, or prove us, as in the case of Abraham” (Ryrie Study Bible; note on Genesis 22:1). I remember when I was strongly rebuked many years ago for giving exactly the translation of the NASV, and exactly the explanation of Dr. Ryrie. But I was right then, and I am right tonight, over fifty years later. James 1:13 tells us that God does not tempt us to sin. But Genesis 22:1 does show us that God tests us in our Christian life. Abraham, here, is a type of the Christian who is tested, as we all are tested.

The Scofield note correctly says, “The spiritual experience of Abraham was marked by four great crises, each of which involved a surrender of something naturally most dear.” These were,

1.  Abraham had to give up his country and his relatives (Genesis 12:1). I am convinced that Abraham would never have been saved if he had not obeyed God on this point. A great many people (especially the young) never experience salvation because they will not give up worldly friends. They hang onto them – and thus they are never saved.

2.  Abraham had to give up his nephew Lot, who was very close to him, and a possible heir, Genesis 13:1-8.

3.  Abraham had to give up his plan for his other son, Ishmael, Genesis 17:17, 18.

4.  Abraham had to give up the son that he loved in the depths of his heart, Genesis 22:1, 2.

“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:2).

Give up Isaac! Give up Isaac! Give up Isaac! Why, Abraham had waited all his life for this boy! And God now says to offer him up as a burned offering! That is the test! God asks you, “What will you give up for me?”

I wanted to be a foreign missionary. And then God took that away. I built a church of over 1,000 in attendance, and then God took that away.

Though the way seems straight and narrow,
   All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes,
   At my feet in ashes lay.
(“I Will Praise Him” by Mrs. Margaret J. Harris, 1865-1919).

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.
(“Is Your All on the Altar?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

All of the truly great Christians in history had to give up their plans and hopes. All of them had to go through sacrifices to please God.

John Chrysostom was exiled by the empress Eudoxia.
   Martin Luther was excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
      Richard Baxter was locked in the Tower of London.
         John Bunyan was sent to prison for twelve years.
            John Wesley was driven from the Anglican Church.
               George Whitefield was banished from every church in London.
                  Jonathan Edwards was fired by his own church.
                     Spurgeon was censured by the Baptist Union.
                        J. Gresham Machen was defrocked by the Presbyterian Church.
                           John R. Rice was shut out by the Southern Baptists.
                              Jim Elliot was murdered by the Auca Indians.
                                 Richard Wurmbrand was put in prison for 14 years.
                                    The Apostle Paul was beaten and stoned, imprisoned,
                                       and had his head chopped off.

Every one of the Apostles but John was executed. They died horrible deaths rather than deny Christ. The early Christians were thrown into the Colosseum where they were torn to shreds by lions and bears before great crowds of cheering pagans. The Nazis hanged Dietrich Bonhoeffer by the neck with a piano wire a few days before the Allies liberated Germany. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was criticized and ostracized for not supporting the “decisionism” of the Billy Graham crusades. Dr. Harold Lindsell was attacked and ostracized for writing “The Battle for the Bible,” exposing liberalism in the seminaries. Dr. Bill Powell died alone in exile, for publicizing attacks on the Bible in the Southern Baptist seminaries. Christians by the thousands are now beheaded by modern Muslims.

Abraham waited 100 years before God gave him his son, Isaac. Then God tested him by telling him to take the son he loved and kill him, and offer him as a burned offering on Mount Moriah. Every good Christian loses something he holds dear, or he does not pass the test God sends to him. Every good Christian knows what Mrs. Harris meant when she wrote those words,

Though the way seems straight and narrow,
   All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes,
   At my feet in ashes lay.

They all know what Mr. Hoffman meant when he asked that penetrating question,

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.

II. Second, Abraham pictures God the Father.

Though perhaps not a type, Abraham certainly pictures God the Father, sending down His only begotten Son to suffer and die on the Cross. Certainly Genesis 22:2 gives us a picture of the heart of God the Father. He takes His Son, whom He loves, to Mount Calvary, which is on the same ridge as Mount Moriah, and offers Him there to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind.

Look at Genesis 22:9, the second half. Abraham “bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” The Scofield note at the bottom of the page says, “Abraham, type of the Father, who ‘spared not His own son, but delivered him up for us all’ [Romans 8:32].” Have we heard John 3:16 so often that we no longer think much about it?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son...” (John 3:16).

Think of John 3:16 as you look again at Genesis 22:2,

“Take now thy son, thine only son...whom thou lovest...and offer him there” (Genesis 22:2).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “During the last three hours, that cross became an altar on which the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was offered. The transaction was between the Father and the Son on the cross...The picture is the same here: it is Abraham and Isaac alone” (Thru the Bible, vol. 1, p. 91).

Dr. M. R. DeHaan said, “What happened between [God] the Father and His Son Jesus Christ during those last few hours of agony we shall never be able to comprehend. It was a transaction between Father and Son. No human eyes were to behold the scene [for there was darkness over all the land]...When the final crisis came and the final sacrifice was made, God [sent darkness]...until finally the culmination came in the ultimate agonizing cry [of Jesus from the cross], ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’” (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Portraits of Christ in Genesis, Zondervan Publishing House, 1966, p. 137).

Surely Abraham’s heart was broken by the coming death of Isaac. And, just as surely, the heart of God was broken when He turned away and left His Son Jesus crying in the dark for Him, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” – to save you and me from sin and Hell. Surely God heard the voice of His Son crying for Him on the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Surely the tears of God the Father flowed as He turned away while Jesus bore our sins alone on that cross!

III. Third, Isaac pictures Jesus.

The Scofield note says, “Isaac, type of Christ, ‘obedient unto death’ (Philippians 2:5-8).”

“Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Now look at verse 6,

“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son” (Genesis 22:6).

This pictures Christ carrying His Cross,

“And he [Jesus] bearing his cross went forth into a place... called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him” (John 19:17, 18).

Now look at verses 7 and 8,

“And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:7, 8).

Isaac says, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham says, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for the burnt offering.” Now look at verse 9,

“And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood” (Genesis 22:9).

This pictures Jesus, as Isaiah tells us,

“He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Dr. McGee pointed out that Isaac was about 33 years old. He got that figure by carefully studying the entire account in Genesis. Isaac obediently allowed his father to tie him up and lay him upon the wood. Now look at verse 10,

“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:10).

Although Abraham didn’t understand what he was doing, he had learned long ago to obey what God told him to do. And, in doing this, he passed the test. Look at verse 12,

“And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12).

Dr. McGee said, “God tested Abraham. I believe that any person God calls...any person whom God uses is going to be tested...to strengthen our faith, to establish us, and to make us serviceable to Him” (ibid., note on Genesis 22:12). Listen again to Mrs. Harris’ hymn,

Though the way seems straight and narrow,
   All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes,
   At my feet in ashes lay.

But she goes on,

Then God’s fire upon the altar
   Of my heart was set aflame;
I shall never cease to praise Him,
   Glory, glory to His name!
I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
   Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
   For His blood can wash away each stain.

I think that was her testimony. All she claimed was swept away. Her ambitions, plans and wishes lay in ashes at her feet. “Then” – oh, that is good! “Then God’s fire upon the altar of my heart was set aflame; I shall never cease to praise Him! Glory, glory to His name!” As Mr. Hoffman put it, “You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest, as you yield Him your body and soul.”

Think now of the faithful people who saved our church from financial ruin. Every one of them had to pass the tests God sent to them. Others ran away during this church split. But the faithful people remained, even though it cost them a great deal to stay and pass the test. I remember what it cost Mrs. Salazar. I remember what it cost Mr. Prudhomme. I know what it cost my wife, what it cost Dr. Chan, Dr. Cagan, Mrs. Cagan, Mrs. Bebout, and all the others. They could say, “All I claimed was swept away; my ambitions, plans and wishes at my feet in ashes lay.” That’s what happened to Father Abraham, when he raised his knife to slay the son he loved more than life itself! All his ambitions, plans and wishes at his feet in ashes lay! And that is how he and all the others passed the test. Do you wonder why Mrs. Salazar is such a saint? All her ambitions, plans and wishes at her feet in ashes lay!

You don’t become a great Christian by simply studying the Bible. You become a great Christian by sacrificing your ambitions, plans and wishes to God! You become a great Christian the same way Abraham did! There is no other way! Please stand and sing hymn number 4, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken,”

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee;
   Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
Perish every fond ambition, All I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
   Yet how rich is my condition, God and Heaven are still my own!

Let the world despise and leave me, They have left my Saviour, too;
   Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
   Foes may hate, and friends may shun me; Show Thy face, and all is bright.

Man may trouble and distress me, ’Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
   Life with trials hard may press me; Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
O ’tis not in grief to harm me, While Thy love is left to me;
   O ’twere not in joy to charm me, Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Haste thee on from grace to glory, Armed by faith, and winged by prayer;
   Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
   Hope shall change to glad fruition, Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

You may be seated.

Ah, I didn’t plan the sermon this way at all! I wrote a beautiful outline before I started writing out the sermon. It took me all day Friday. In the end, my lovely outline was “swept away, and lay in ashes at my feet!” Let it stand! Yet I believe that it gives the message of Abraham and Isaac, probably better than if I had followed my beautiful sermon outline!

Dr. DeHaan said, “Here the typology changes and we have an example of a double type. Isaac could be a type of Christ only so far and no farther, for Isaac himself [was a sinner who] needed a substitute who must be slain in his stead. And so the figure changes from Isaac as a picture of Christ, to a ram as a substitute for Isaac” (ibid., p. 141). Now look at verse 13,

“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Genesis 22:13).

Notice the phrase, “in the stead [or place] of his son.” It is a picture of Christ’s substitutionary death, in the place of sinners. The ram sacrificed in the place of Isaac is a perfect picture of Jesus being sacrificed in your place, to pay for your sins on the Cross, Jesus, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree [on the Cross],” I Peter 2:24.

I am asking you to trust Jesus. The moment you trust Him, His death on the Cross pays the full penalty for your sin. And the Blood He shed on the Cross will cleanse you from all sin – the moment you trust Him with all your heart. Only trust Him. Only trust Him. Only trust Him now. He will save you. He will save you. He will save you now. Amen.

If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Genesis 22:1-14.
Solo Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Is Your All on the Altar?” (by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).


THE OUTLINE OF

LIFE LESSONS FROM ABRAHAM AND ISAAC

(SERMON #85 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25, 27).

(Isaiah 7:14)

I.   First, the passage pictures the testing of Christians, Genesis 22:1, 2; James 1:13;
Genesis 12:1; 13:1-8; 17:17, 18; 22:1, 2.

II.  Second, Abraham pictures God the Father, Genesis 22:9; Romans 8:32;
John 3:16; Genesis 22:2.

III. Third, Isaac pictures Jesus, Philippians 2:8; Genesis 22:6;
John 19:17, 18; Genesis 22:7, 8, 9; Isaiah 53:7; Genesis 22:10, 12, 13;
I Peter 2:24.