The Promises of God

Title: The Promises of God

Text: Genesis 22

Introduction: It is usually best to not act when you don’t know the outcome. Usually!

Like while conducting maintenance in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea, the crew of the RCGS Resolute spotted a Venezuelan Coast Guard vessel on March 30. According to the crew of the Portuguese-flagged but German-owned cruise ship, the Venezuelan littoral patrol boat Naiguatá directed the cruise ship to follow it to a Venezuelan port. When the crew of the Resolute refused—citing their right to be in international waters—a crewman of the Venezuelan vessel used an automatic rifle to fire warning shots. When that didn’t turn the Resolute to port, the 262-foot Naiguatá attempted to ram the 409-foot Resolute. Designed for sailing through ice-covered waters, the Resolute took the blow well while the collision ruptured the hull of the Venezuelan patrol boat and sank it. Other coast guard boats rescued the crew of the Venezuelan vessel, while the Resolute sailed on to her next port. (World Mag, 5.9.20, Vol. 35, no. 9, pg 18)

Like I said, it usually is best not to act when you don’t know the outcome in whatever you’re attempting. But our story this morning teaches us to Trust God at his word – even when we’re not sure of the outcome, by faith, we know that God knows what He’s doing.

There are a group of us reading through the Bible together. We’re currently in Numbers, wandering around with the Israelites through the desert! With this in mind, I’ve decided to preach from somewhere within the last week’s readings – and so, today you’ll notice I’m in Genesis 22. Just one little story from the midst of the Big Story.

Which brings us back to acting on something when you have no idea about the outcome. Actually, that is exactly what Abraham does in Gen. 22. Here are our 4 points this morning:

  1. The Plan
  2. The Problem
  3. The Provision
  4. The Promise

In this story, there are two counter-actions at work: What one believes and what one experiences. Abraham obeys God because he knows that God will accomplish what he has said (He believes God). But, his actions will lead to that not being possible. How can these two opposites be true at the same time?

Let’s observe the action. 1st, we see the Plan

I. Following The Plan (1-6)

exp.: There are two parts to the Plan, first, explained, and 2nd, executed.

  1. Explained (1-2); note: the grouping of 3’s: take, go to land, go to the mountain; there is something special about the threes; Gen 12:1-3 – in threes; Go, Go from, Go to; Go, Go to, Go offer; we even see it in the smaller parts of the text –
    1. Take your son
    2. Your only son
    3. Whom you love

From our text, this is all we know. Abraham is commanded to go offer His son. This must really create a struggle in Abraham. We don’t see it but consider it. Ishmael has been rejected as the heir. Isaac is the promised heir.

  • Gen 12 – I’ll make you a nation.
  • Gen 15 – Again, look at the stars, so shall your descendants be. God strikes a covenant w/ Abraham, his new name.
  • Gen 17 – a 2nd covenant – circumcision and a promise of Isaac; Abraham asks that the heir might be Ishmael, but God says no – you’ll have a son, rd.; 15-19

There is something Henry Blackaby calls a crisis of belief that each of us goes through when we walk with God. Circumstances and situations appear impossible, but God doesn’t call us to walk by sight. He calls us to walk by faith. And this is just what Abraham is going through at this moment.

Hebrews 11.17-19 let’s us in on what Abraham must have thought: 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

So, here’s the thing, God has promised and Abraham believes that God will do what he has promised. His circumstances don’t appear to be able to make that so. He could have said, “No, you promised!” But he doesn’t! He obeys with his life even when his mind is having trouble reconciling these two.

Transition: which is the 2nd subpoint:

  1. Executed (3-6); Abraham does what God told him to do: he goes, he takes, he offers. Rd v3-6;

t.s.: three days to think about it; three days to stop and turn around; three days to consider; added to this, he has an interesting conversation with his son… and this is our second section this morning:

II. The Problem (7-10)

exp.: rd v 7; We’ve got everything except; he must have helped his Dad before; I love the wisdom of Abraham; rd v 8; rd 9-10; Now, I wonder what all of this looks like; we don’t see Isaac fighting his dad; at least not in the text; I’ll be honest, I don’t think I could have trusted my dad like that. I feel Lisa would have trusted her dad.

ill.: Let’s make this personal. But what about you, when God calls you to offer yourself a living sacrifice to him, do you trust your Heavenly father? When he commands you to bind yourself and crawl upon the altar, do you loosely bind the cords, so that if things don’t go the way you want or expect, you can quickly remove them and jump off the altar?

app.: How long can you remain in the crisis of belief, before you give up? Abraham stays strong, trusting God;

t.s.: And God comes through;

III. The Provision (11-14)

exp.: to this point, Abraham has done as he was told; it is proper to assume this is God’s plan, since it is the last bit of instruction God gave; hint: keep doing what you were told to do, until God tells you to do something else;

app.: Abraham is stopped; Now this is why it is so good to be faithful to ‘all’ that God commands. I’ve wondered if Abraham would have gone to a different Mountain than God had shown, would he have sent the lamb over there? Listen, the point of the ram, caught in the thicket, is that God was providing for Abraham, even before he knew he would need it.

ill.: follow with me; in your mind’s eye, close your eyes and imagine Abraham walking along with his son as they’re headed toward the mountain; can you see it? Now pull up and away. Watch as Abraham and Isaac, the fire and the donkey carrying the wood get smaller and smaller. You’re far enough up that you can actually see the top of the mountain, and even to the other side of the mountain. Now, zoom in to the other side of the mountain. There is something making its way up the mountain there. What is that? Zoom in closer, as the brush moves, you know it’s there. Zoom in closer and then you see it. A Ram.

app.: at the same time, though unbeknownst to Abraham, there is a Ram making his way up the mountain to that same spot.

t.s.: in conclusion, I would add point # 4 – The Promise is remembered and recounted. You see that in 15-19;

IV. The Promise (15-19)

exp.: rd 15-19; listen, God is faithful; he will continue to use us, until he has no purpose for us; Our purpose is to Glorify Him; that’s why we exist here; We can be sure, that as long as we continue in our obedience and faithfulness, God will use us to bring glory to himself; Consider the promise to Abraham: he would never see it with his own eyes. Think about that – the promise was so much bigger than Abraham.

So, what do I want you to take home today?

Conclusion:

  1. God has a plan and he is working that plan and we get to be a part of it. We may not see how it all works out in our lifetimes, but God is working his plan nonetheless!

That is one of the reasons I’ve wanted to read through the Bible with you so quickly. I’m hoping to show you His Story, so that you can see how God is at work. You might ask, “How will we get to be a part of this plan?” Answer, “That, I don’t know!” But here is where faith abides.

  1. I want you to know that whatever problem, situation or circumstance you find yourself, you can trust that God is at work. Take a moment to pull away from it’s nearness. See if you can imagine what God might be doing on the other side of your mountain. At the very least, you know he’s up to something.
  2. I’m reminded of Abraham’s answer to Isaac: God, himself, will provide the sacrifice. As with Isaac, God provided a substitute. Isaac, though he didn’t know it, had been sentenced to death. The truth is that you and I are very much like Isaac, we’ve been sentenced to an eternal death because of our sin. But, God, in his mercy toward us, has provided a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. Rom 6.23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free Gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God has provided for us!
  3. I’d like to have a time of commitment this morning. Let’s talk – I’ve got my mask, and I’ll use it.
    1. Come to Christ.
      1. Salvation
      1. Recommitment
  4. Church Membership
    1. Salvation experience
    1. Baptism
  5.  Call to ministry.

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Filed under Faith, Faithfulness, Genesis, Scripture, Sermon

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