"THE FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING"
Intro. There are seven recorded occasions when the Lord appeared to Abraham. This is the last of the seven. In each occasion the Lord was drawing Abraham into an ever deeper fellowship with Himself.
I. THE SEVEN APPEARANCES.
A. The first appearance was when he received the call of God to leave his birthplace in the Ur of the Chaldees and his family and journey to a land that God would show him.
1. He took his father and went as far as Haran and tarried there until his father's death.
2. At the death of his father the Lord appeared to him again, and again called him to journey to the land that the Lord would show him.
3. In these first two calls, Abraham was brought into fellowship with the discontment of God.
a. God is discontented with the corrupted social order of man, especially as it had developed in Babylon.
b. God first brings us into the discontentment with the present world as it is, He calls us to come out of the world.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
c. I fear for the person who finds contentment in the world and feels at home in this corrupt world.
B. The next appearance was when God promised him the land that he had come to. Abraham built an altar unto the Lord.
C. The next time the Lord appeared to him, He promised him a son. Here Abraham was brought into the fellowship of the patience of God.
1. God wants us to learn to wait on Him.
2. This is such a hard lesson to learn.
3. Abraham had difficulty with this and failed the test a few times, before he passed it.
D. The next time the Lord appeared to Abraham He called him into a covenent relationship. Abraham was to cut the animals in half which he did, but he spent the afternoon chasing the vultures away. That night he fell into a deep sleep, and a dread of the darkness fell upon Abraham, he saw a burning lamp moving between the pieces of the sacrifice, and the Lord revealed that his seed would spend 400 years in Egypt but would then be delivered, there would be a time of darkness, but it would be followed by the light. Abraham was drawn into fellowship with the hope of God.
1. God calls us into the fellowship of the hope for the better world.
2. We are presently passing through this world controlled by darkness, but the glorious kingdom of God shall come.
E. The fifth appearance God revealed Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai God Almighty, or all sufficient.
1. That confidence that what God had promised, He was able also to do.
2. Paul speaks of this in Romans 4
as he talks about the faith of Abraham, "Being fully persuaded that what God had promised He was able also to perform."
F. In the sixth appearance, Abraham challenged the justice of God when the Lord announced to Him His intention of destroying Sodom. Abraham interceeded for the city, until he was convinced that God was justified in His judgment. Here he was brought into fellowship with the justice of God.
1. We are convinced that God is going to bring His judgment upon this earth, and that He is fully justified in his judgment.
2. He has put a longing in our hearts to see that true justice is done.
G. In this seventh and final appearance Abraham is brought into fellowship with the suffering of God. "Take now thy son, thy only son Issac whom you love, and offer him as a burnt offering on a mount that I will show you." Here Abraham is brought into the deepest fellowship possible, the fellowship of His suffering.
1. Paul declared to the Philippians his desire to know Christ, not only in the power of His resurrection, but in the fellowship of His sufferings.
a. Many want to know the power of Christ. It is their hope that it will keep them from suffering.
b. Paul desired to know the deepest fellowship with Him, the fellowship of His suffering.
c. Paul wrote, "For if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.
2. There is probably nothing that draws people closer than to suffer together.
3. Two ladies who were always seen together, shopping, having coffee, you hardly ever saw the one without seeing the other with her. The one lady died and at her funeral someone came up to her constant companion and said, "You must really miss her, you were so close." To which the woman replied, "I do miss her, but we were really not very close." Astounded the lady responded, "I always saw you together, laughing, and having such a great time." "Yes," she said, "We laughed a lot together, but we never once cried together."
II. THE SALIENT FEATURES OF THE STORY.
A. "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and offer him as a burnt offering sacrifice on a mount I will show you."
1. Did God make a mistake? Wasn't there another son, Ishmael?
2. Issac was the son of promise, Ishmael was the product of the work of the flesh. It is interesting to me that God does not recognize the works of the flesh.
3. God had declared to Abraham, "Through Isaac shall thy seed be called."
4. Issac was not yet married, how could the seed come from Issac if Abraham was to offer him as a burnt offering sacrifice?
a. As far as Abraham was concerned, that was God's problem.
b. The book of Hebrews gives a great commentary on this part of the story.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son],
Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
B. So Abraham and Issac journeyed with the servants the three day journey to mount Moriah.
1. Abraham was holding the secret in his heart, but in his mind every time he looked at Issac, or talked to Issac, his son was as dead.
2. Yet there was also the hope of his resurrection, because God is faithful to keep His promise, and he knew that through Issac his seed would be called.
C. Abraham left the sevants at the base of the hill with the promise that they would return. "I and the lad will go and worship and will come again."
1. It was at this point that Issac questioned his father. "Dad, arn't we missing something? We have the fire and the wood, but you have forgotten the sacrifice."
2. To which Abraham in faith prophesied, "God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering."
a. What interesting words, "God will provide Himself a lamb for a sacrifice."
b. We read that John the Baptist saw Jesus he cried to the people, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."
c. We read in Corinthians that, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself."
d. Through Jesus Christ God provided Himself as a lamb for the sacrifice.
3. Abraham bound Issac and laid him on the altar.
a. At this point forget the pictures that you saw in your Sunday School papers when you were a child.
b. I can remember coloring pictures of Abraham and Issac walking up the hill together and Issac looked about 8 to 12 years old.
c. In reality Isaac was probably in his thirties, for at the beginning of the next chapter we have the record of the death of Sarah at 127 years of age, and she was probably 91 years old at the birth of Issac.
d. This means that Issac willingly submitted to the will of his father in becoming a sacrifice. Even as Jesus submitted to the will of His Father to become the promised Lamb of God that He would be sacrificed for the sins of the world. In the garden just before the cross, Jesus prayed that if it were possible, to let the cup pass from Him, nevertheless, not My will but Thy will be done.
4. At this point God intervened and halted Abraham. He had faithfully passed the greatest test.
a. God directed him to a ram whose horns had been caught in a thicket, which Abraham sacrificed.
5. At this time Abraham called the name of the place, Jehovah Jireh, (the Lord will provide) he then prophesied, "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen."
6. About a thousand years later, Solomon began to build the temple on Mount Moriah, where the people would offer their sacrifices to the Lord.
7. Another 1000 years later the prophecy would be fulfilled for on the top of Mount Moriah, the Roman soldiers crucified Jesus Christ God's only Son, whom He loved and He became the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
8. It is interesting that at this point, Issac is dropped from the story, and we do not see him again until the servant is returning from a far country with his bride.
9. Even so Jesus has been removed from the story until the Holy Spirit is ready to bring His bride to Him.