One of the most convicting songs we sing is “I Surrender All”. Consider the first verse: “All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.” The line that is, personally, the most convicting is “all to Him I freely give”. When we sing that song we must reflect on what we are freely giving to God and what we are greedily withholding from God. In our sermon today, Abraham is freely giving what was most precious to him and learning that faith is demonstrated in obedience.
- The Faithful are tested (1). In verse 1, we read that “God tested Abraham.” Does it seem odd to you that God would test Abraham? Two necessary points must be made: 1) There is a difference between testing and tempting and 2) God does not learn. First, God never tempts (James 1:13). God’s testing is different than Satan’s tempting. When God tests, His desired result is greater faith and trust. When Satan tempts, his desired result is sin and rebellion. Second, being all-knowing; God is not trying to find out what Abraham will do. God cannot learn new information because God already knows all things. God is testing Abraham in order to grow Abraham’s faith and trust. Christian, you will be tempted and tested. Do you know the difference between the two?
- The Faithful obey when they do not understand (2-10). What was the test? God commanded Abraham to “offer [Isaac] as a burnt offering”. Abraham received a confusing command that seemed to cost him someone very dear. This command is confusing because: 1) God does not approve of human sacrifice and 2) God had clearly stated that Isaac would be the promised child through which Abraham’s many descendants would come (Gen 18). Why would God want Isaac dead? Abraham did not understand God’s reason for the command, but Abraham obeyed nonetheless. Abraham “rose early in the morning…” and obeyed God’s command. The command from God may be confusing, but being a command from God, it is to be obeyed in faith.
- The Faithful know God will provide (11-14). Abraham had every intention of sacrificing Isaac because God had commanded it and he knew that God is always faithful to provide. The writer of Hebrews gives us a glimpse into Abraham’s thinking when he wrote: “He considered that God was able even to raise [Isaac] from the dead” (Heb 11:19). Abraham was going to offer Isaac as God commanded because he knew that God would keep His promise to bless him through Isaac. If you are convinced that God is faithful, you will be more willing to obey all His commands, even if it means letting go of what you cling to closely.
- The Faithful remember the greatest sacrifice (15-24). Abraham was obedient to God’s command and God saw Abraham’s great faith on display. While Abraham did not have to sacrifice his only son whom he loved (2), we see pictured here a foreshadowing of God sending His one and only beloved Son to be a sacrifice. The blessing bestowed upon Abraham find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. We love because God loves us first. We are willing to sacrifice all that we have because God sacrificed His only Son.
What are you freely giving to God? What are you greedily withholding from God? Do you entrust yourself and all you have to God? Pray and ask God to reveal anything that is hindering you spiritually and resolve to ever trust Him and in His presence daily live.
Grow Group Guide
I Surrender All (Genesis 22)
Open with prayer and then have someone volunteer to read Genesis 22. After reading the text, discuss the following questions:
- What does the text say? (What happened? What happened next? What happened after that?) What did God tell Abraham to do? What was Abraham’s response? What did Abraham tell the young men that he and Isaac were going to do? What did Isaac ask Abraham? What was Abraham’s answer? What was Abraham about to do to Isaac when the angel intervened? What was sacrificed instead of Isaac? What did Abraham call that place? What did the Angel of the Lord tell Abraham?
- What does it tell us about God? (Discuss the nature and character of God.) Why did God tell Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering? Does God approve of child sacrifice? Why or why not? What does God think about children? Why did God want to test Abraham? Doesn’t God already know what Abraham is going to do? Why did the angel wait until Abraham “took the knife to slaughter his son”?
- What does it tell us about ourselves? (What are the human characters in the story doing or not doing that serve as a warning or encouragement to us?) What do you think was going through Abraham’s mind when God told him to sacrifice Isaac? Do you think Abraham would have followed through? Do you think that Abraham really believed what he told the young men about worshipping or what he told Isaac about the animal? What do you think was going through Isaac’s mind when his father bound him on the wood? What do you think Abraham and Isaac’s relationship was like after this incident?
- How am I going to think, speak, and live differently because of what I learned? James writes that we should be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22). It is not enough to know what the story says, it is important to apply the truth of the story to our lives. Take some time in prayer and consider some changes that you need to make in the following areas: