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Mount Moriah: The LORD Provides a Substitute

Scripture Readings: Genesis 22:1-19 (text) • Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19; Galatians 3:6-9, 29
Rev. Nollie Malabuyo November 16, 2014  KSYC 103.9FM • Download this devotional (PDF)

"Abraham Sacrificing Isaac" by Laurent de La Hire, 1650 (click image to enlarge)

“Abraham Sacrificing Isaac” by Laurent de La Hire, 1650 (click image to enlarge)

Last week, we began our series on Biblical mountains with the mountain of Eden where God placed Adam and Eve. We learned Adam represented all human beings when he sin, and Jesus Christ, whom the Bible calls the Second Adam, represented all the people who would believe on him.

Today, we will continue with this study, as we look at a second Biblical mountain called Moriah, which means “chosen by the LORD.” We first read about this mountain in relation to the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. The first time God revealed himself to Abraham, he was a 75-year-old man in a place called Ur of the Chaldees in present-day Iraq. God commanded him to leave his home and his people and go to a strange land. God did not even tell him where in the world that land was, but God promised to bless him and make him a great nation, and to bless all the families of the earth through him. It’s a great promise! (Gen 12:1-3)

It took God 25 years to fulfill his promise of a son, as God tested Abraham’s faith—and patience! The Lord confirmed his covenant promises of children and inheritance several times, but God seemed to be taking his own sweet time in fulfilling them. For 25 years, God tested his patience, but Abraham never lost faith in God’s promise. Finally, the promised son was born, and he was called Isaac.

When Isaac was a young boy, God gave Abraham his final test of faith. God commands Abraham to offer his only son as a burnt sacrifice! We might expect Abraham to finally break down and shake his fist against God in exasperation. But no, in this most difficult and impossible test, Abraham displays remarkable peace of mind and trust in God.

Abraham promptly responds to God’s command. He sets out early the following morning with no complaints, no arguments, no bargaining. He acts on God’s word quickly, showing his true and strong faith. God told him the place of sacrifice: the mountains of Moriah.

Many people say they have faith, but their behavior does not show it. Politicians are shown to go to church and say, “God bless us all.” But they are corrupt. Even some pastors are dishonest and lovers of money. Teen idols say they are Christians, but use drugs, wear provocative, immodest clothes, and dance with bodily movement that stimulate sinful desires in men. It will benefit us greatly if we always remember how firm and strong Abraham’s faith was as evidenced by his works of obedience to God.

Upon reaching Mount Moriah, Abraham tells his servants to stay where they were while the two of them went up the mountain. He tells them to wait until both of them come back. If he was going to sacrifice his son, why would he say this to his servants? Hebrews 11:19 has the answer, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead.” Abraham believed in the resurrection! After Isaac was killed, his body cut into several pieces, and burned as an offering, Abraham believed that the Almighty God is able to make him physically whole again and raise him from the dead!

Along the way up the mountain, Isaac wonders where the sacrifice is since they already have the wood, the fire and the knife. But Abraham continues to show his faith, saying, “God will provide . . . the lamb.” If Abraham believed that God would indeed raise Isaac from the dead, he must have really thought that Isaac would be the lamb, the burnt offering.

When Abraham took his knife to slaughter his son as a sacrifice, the test was over. He has passed his test. An angel of the Lord restrained him. His faith has been completed by his obedience. “Now I know that you fear God”: these are God’s words declaring that Abraham had passed the test with flying colors.

The apostle James comments on Abraham’s faithful obedience that accompanied his great faith, a faith that was “active along with his works,” and was “completed by his works” (Jas 2:21–23). James is saying that our faith is confirmed by the fruits of our lives. This is why earlier, he says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17-18). No one is saved from sin by his own good works, but by faith that results in good works. This is true faith.

But after Abraham has passed the test, God again showed his faithfulness to his promises. God provides a ram for Abraham so that he can perform his sacrifice of a burnt offering. This means that the ram was a substitute sacrifice for Isaac.

A thousand years later, King Solomon built the Temple of Jerusalem on the same mountain (2 Chr 3:1).This is why God refers to this mountain as “the mountain of the Lord” (Gen 22:14). In this Temple, the Israelites in the Old Testament offered their animal sacrifices as atonement for sin, and also as thanksgiving to God.

And then in another one thousand years, another sacrifice was offered on the same area of Mount Moriah. The Bible says that on this same mountain, now called Golgotha, Jesus offered his own body and blood for the sins of all who would believe on him. God poured out his wrath on the sins of his people on his own Beloved Son to save his people from his coming wrath.

In this story of Abraham and Isaac, we see striking parallels to the crucifixion of Christ. On this same Mount Moriah, Isaac carried the wood where he would be laid down by his Father as a sacrifice. On this same mountain area, Jesus carried his own cross on his back. On this same mountain area, where Abraham sacrificed Isaac and the Temple was built, Jesus the Passover Lamb and the Temple of God became our Substitute.

All Christians are also called by Jesus our Substitute to carry their own cross in their lives. There will be sufferings, trials and temptations until the end. Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” And when believers persevere, they will attain the glory of Christ’s cross on Mount Moriah.

In the end, God confirmed Abraham’s faith and fulfilled all his promises to Abraham. God swore to himself that through Abraham all the nations will be blessed. How did God accomplish this?

Through the Substitute, Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. When he died on the cross, he drew all of God’s chosen ones to himself, not only Jews, but also people from Yreka, Montague, Weed, and other Siskiyou communities. Gentiles from all nations. Not just Jewish Temple worshipers, but worshipers of God from all the nations of the earth. The Temple and animal sacrifices are now obsolete, becauseJesus is now the Temple and the Sacrifice. The Temple is gone forever. God’s people in all nations worship him in spirit and in truth in all true churches wherever they are found.

Do you consider yourself a true worshiper of God? If you don’t, go to a church where the true good news of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone is preached. If you’re close to Big Springs Community Church, I invite you to join us in worship. You will always be comforted and assured that if you repent of your sin and place your trust in Jesus as your Substitute, you are one of Abraham’s and Isaac’s descendants. And you belong to God.

Let us pray: Almighty God, thank you for your grace, mercy and love to sinners who deserve your judgment. Instead of pouring out your wrath against us in our sins, you poured your wrath on Jesus your own Beloved Son. Thank you for sending him as the Substitute for your people’s sin.

Now we pray for the week ahead of us. We pray again for our homes, our jobs, our fields, our schools, our government. We continue to pray for good weather, for rains, for sunshine. We pray for provisions for daily bread, especially for the widows and the poor. Heal those who are ill, especially those with serious illnesses. May you also heal our broken relationships. Lastly, heal our nation where there’s spiritual darkness, and our leadership, who are in the midst of controversies and divisions.

Through Jesus Christ our Substitute and Lord. Amen.

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