A Son Named Isaac

Midweek Advent Sermon – A Son Named Isaac

Dear people who are waiting for God to fulfil His promises: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Abraham was not always a believer in the one true God. He had lived with his father Terah across the Euphrates from the promised land, in Ur of the Chaldeans in Old Babylonia. Then his name was Abram, and he worshipped other gods as did everyone who lived there, and they had a lot of them. The people of Ur had invented some 4000 gods. These are the gods Abram served.

God called Abram to leave his false gods, along with his country and kindred and father’s house, promising to make a great nation of him in the land promised to him. God promised to make his name great, so that he will be a blessing. God promised to bless those who bless Abram and curse those who dishonour him. God promised the land to Abram and to his offspring after him; his offspring which God promised would be like the dust of the earth.

Abram believed God, and at age seventy-five, took Sarai his wife, and Lot his nephew to travel to the promised land.

They settled in the land, and time passed. God once again spoke to Abram and said, “’Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless… Behold, you have given me no offspring.’”

God had promised Abram offspring like the dust of the earth, but at an age past seventy-five, and Sarai past sixty-five, they still had no children. Abram figured a slave from his household would end up being his heir, but God said, “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” God brought Abram outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.

Abram believed God. He trusted God’s promise to him. Thus, God said that Abram is righteous. That’s what righteousness is – trusting God’s Word; having faith in God’s promises; believing what God says is true.

Ten years went by in the promised land. Abram still had no children at eighty-five, while Sarai was seventy-five.

What often happens when time passes after God makes a promise and it is yet to be fulfilled? Doubt. Doubt happens. Maybe God meant something else. Maybe I have to do something to make God’s promise come true. Maybe God has forgotten what He said.

Sarai convinced Abram to have a child with one of her servants. Maybe that’s what God meant. Maybe that’s what had to be done to make God’s promise true. Maybe God forgot what He promised. But, no, that is not what God meant, and God did not forget.

Time passed once again. The Lord changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude,” and Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means “princess.” God once again promised Abraham, now ninety-nine years old, saying, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.”

Sarah laughed at God’s promise, as Abraham had done earlier. The way of women had ceased to be with the eighty-nine-year-old Sarah. She said to herself, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” God rebuked Sarah for her laughter and said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

God did fulfil His promise to Abraham and Sarah, even though human wisdom said God’s promise was impossible. The overwhelming realities of life said that God’s promise cannot be true. Nature, science, and experience all contradicted God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah.

Human wisdom, the realities of life, nature, science, and experience were all wrong. God’s promise proved true, as God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, Isaac.

To us, Christ has promised that He will return and make all things new, that He will raise the dead, that He will give everlasting life to those who belong to Him. Human wisdom, the realities of life, nature, science, and experience say that His promise is impossible. We don’t see anything getting newer or better. Everything is getting older and worse. Creation is becoming more and more corrupt and evil. We are getting older, and sicker, and fewer, and we still struggle with the same sins with which we have always struggled.

Christ promised to return quickly. Two thousand years later, His promise is more likely to make us laugh with Sarah than to say, “Amen.”

What often happens when time passes after God makes a promise and it is yet to be fulfilled? Doubt. Doubt happens. Maybe God meant something else. Maybe I have to do something to make God’s promise come true. Maybe God has forgotten what He said.

We need rebuke for our laughter and doubting, our lack of trust and unbelief. We need to be asked, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God rebukes us for our doubting. We fear the Lord, knowing we deserve much worse than a rebuke, and we pray, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

The Lord does help us in our unbelief. He helps us in our unbelief by being true to His promises. Yes, He fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah. Even more, He fulfilled His promise to all mankind by sending His Son into the world to take on our flesh. The long-awaited Saviour of the nations came to save us from our sins.

Isaac was a son of promise for Abraham and Sarah; Jesus is a Son of promise for all mankind. As Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice on his back up the mountain, so Jesus carried the wood of His cross for His sacrifice on His back as He headed up to Golgotha. Isaac, the only son of his father, was led by his father to be sacrificed, as Jesus, the only Son of God the Father, was led by His Father to be sacrificed.

Isaac was not sacrificed, however. There was a substitutionary sacrifice for Isaac. The ram caught by its horns in the thicket was sacrificed instead of Isaac.

Jesus was sacrificed. He is the substitutionary sacrifice for all mankind. He suffered and died for us and in our place, and He thus fulfilled God’s promises throughout history to save us. Jesus was sacrificed for our sins so that we will not die eternally.

Through Abraham’s years of waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled, God worked and strengthened faith in Abraham. Thus, Abraham trusted God’s promise that his offspring would be like the dust of the earth and the stars of the heavens to the point that he was willing to sacrifice his only son, trusting that God could even raise Isaac from the dead if need be. So also, God works faith in us throughout our lives, through times of waiting for God to fulfil His promises to us. He strengthens our faith so that we will trust His promises, including the promise that Christ will return and make all things new.

We believe the Lord, and He counts it to us as righteousness. We believe God, because He always keeps His Word. We trust God’s promises to us. Thus, God says that we are righteous. That’s what righteousness is – trusting God’s Word; having faith in God’s promises; believing what God says is true.

This faith is the gift of God that comes from His Word. God works faith in us through His Word, and God strengthens us in His Word to trust His promises even when human wisdom, the realities of life, nature, science, and experience tell us what God promises is impossible.

Nothing is too hard for the Lord. Thus, we pray, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief,” and “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.” Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s