Trials and Testing – Part I – Genesis 22.1, 12

These notes are taken from my sermon: “Trials and Testing – Part I.”

Now I want to briefly explain two Old Testament Hebrew words that are also on the bottom of your inserts. I’ll refer to these words throughout the rest of
the sermon…

The first Hebrew word is the word for tested or proved; it’s the wordnacah (pr: nah-saw) and it means, “to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test.” This word occurs 36 times throughout the OT.

The second Hebrew word is the word for know; it’s the word yada’ and it means, “to know”, but it’s describing a very
intimate knowledge of someone or something. For example, it’s used in Gen 4:1 when it says Adam KNEW his wife, and she conceived and bore a son. This word occurs 947 times throughout the OT.

Listen to these two verses from David…

  • Psa 26:2 Examine me, O Lord, and PROVE
    (this is nacah [pr: nah-saw]) , me; Try my mind and my heart.
  • Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and KNOW
    (this is yada’ [pr: yuh-dah]) my heart; Try me…24 See if there is any wicked way in me.

David wanted God to prove – or test – him. David wanted to know the condition of his mind and heart, but David also said he wanted God TO
KNOW his mind and heart…and this brings us to the rest of Lesson 1…

LESSON 1: (PART I) TRIALS TEST OUR FAITH (PART II) AND PROVE THE GENUINENESS OF IT:

  • (PART III) TO OTHERS.
  • (PART IV) TO US.
  • (PART V) TO GOD.

Trials don’t just prove the genuineness of our faith to others and to us. Trials also – and maybe most importantly – prove the genuineness of our faith to
God.

John Fawcett said,

“Losses and disappointments are the trials of our faith, our patience, and our obedience. When we are in the midst of prosperity, it is difficult to
know whether we have a love for God or only for His blessings. It is in the midst of trials that our faith is put to the test.”

Think of what Satan said about Job; Satan himself understood trials reveal our faith, or reveal our hearts for God:


  • Job 1:9 Satan said, “Does Job fear [You] for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that
    he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out Your hand and touch
    all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
  • Job 2:5 Satan said, “Stretch out Your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

Satan said the only reason Job didn’t curse God was the absence of trials in his life. Now Satan is the Accuser – so these are the things we expect him to
say – but he was right that trials can tempt us to curse God…and when we don’t, we’re proving the genuineness of our faith.

And this is why God tests His people w/ trials. We see Him do it throughout the Old and New Testaments: God tests His people to KNOW them.

  • God’s tests are related to Him knowing us…

· Very often when it mentions God testing His people, it says He does so TO KNOW them.

Let me give you four examples from the OT. Believe me when I tell you there are plenty of other examples I wanted to give you, but I controlled myself…

Before Israel went into the Promised Land, Moses spoke to the nation in the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses couldn’t go w/ them and Deuteronomy contains his
final words to the people he loved and led for 40 yrs.

In chapter 8 he talked to Israel about the 40 yrs in the wilderness. That was a pretty tough time for them – it was a time of real testing – and listen to
WHY God tested them…


Deut 8:2 You shall remember the Lord your God who led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and TEST you

(this is nacah [pr: nah-saw]) , to KNOW (this is yada’ [pr:
yuh-dah]) what was in your heart.

That’s why God tests us, b/c He wants to KNOW what’s in our hearts. It doesn’t really mean know as though God didn’t “know
before. The word for tested means prove – and is sometimes translated as prove – and when God tests us it’s to prove what’s in our hearts.

Fast-forward a little to when Israel went in the Promised Land. What did God do w/ the enemies in Canaan? He left them! And why did He leave them? He left
them so they would test Israel, and listen to WHY God wanted to test them…

Judges 3:4 [The Canaanites] were left, that He might TEST
(this is nacah [pr: nah-saw]) Israel to KNOW (this is yada’ (pr: yuh-dah) whether they would obey [His] commandments. God wanted to test them
to know – or prove – whether they would obey Him.

—-

There was an interesting situation when Hezekiah – generally considered one of the greatest kings in the OT – was visited by some messengers from Babylon.
Babylon was the superpower of the day, and sadly Hezekiah pridefully wanted to impress them. He showed them all the wealth of his nation, and afterward
Isaiah rebuked him for it.

Listen to this verse that describes the situation…

2 Chr 32:31
Regarding the ambassadors [from] Babylon [God] withdrew from [Hezekiah], IN ORDER TO TEST HIM
(this is nacah [pr: nah-saw]) , that [God] might KNOW (this is yada’ [pr: yuh-dah]) all that was in his heart.

God tested Israel in the wilderness b/c He wanted to know – or prove – what was in their hearts.

God tested Israel in the Promised land b/c He wanted to know – or prove – whether they would obey Him.

God tested Hezekiah, b/c He wanted to know – or prove – what was in his heart.

And God tests us, b/c He wants to know – or prove – what’s in our hearts.

One of the reasons we can welcome trials is they’re opportunities…

  • To let God KNOW we love Him…
  • To let God KNOW we’re committed to Him…

· To let God KNOW what’s in our hearts toward Him.

And there’s one final example in the OT of God testing someone to know what’s in that person’s heart…

I’ve discussed the Principle of First Mention w/ you a number of times up to this point. It’s where scholars look at the first time words are used in
Scripture, b/c the idea is this reveals the truest or most accurate meaning of the word.

Earlier, I told you Gen 22 is probably the most fitting picture of a test in Scripture, and one of the reasons I said that is Gen 22:1 contains the first
time the word tested – or nacah
(pr: nah-saw) – is mentioned.

Please turn to Genesis 22:1

Gen 22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested
(nacah [pr: nah-saw]) Abraham.

I didn’t want to discuss God testing Abraham until AFTER we saw him pass the test, which we saw in my last sermon on this chapter.

We’ve looked at this chapter a number of times over the last few weeks, and w/ the understanding we have now of testing I hope we can look at what God did
w/ Abraham a little differently.

If you write in your Bible, you can circle the word tested and write, “James 1:3”, which says “ the testing of your faith.

There were more painful tests people faced in Scripture – like what Job experienced – but as far as having faith tested, I don’t think there was a tougher
test than what Abraham experienced. This is why he’s the Father of Faith. He faced the premier test of faith and he passed.

I think this is the perfect place for tested – or nacah [pr: nah-saw])to be used
for the first time, b/c of how well this test did exactly what we’ve been discussing:

· It tested Abraham’s faith and proved the genuineness of it…

· It revealed what was in Abraham’s heart…

· God wanted to KNOW how Abraham felt about Him and this test revealed that: look back at verse 12:

The Angel said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I KNOW that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your
only son, from Me.”

Any idea what the word for know is? Yada’ [pr: yuh-dah]). God said…

  • I KNOW you fear Me…
  • You’ve shown Me what’s in your heart…
  • You’ve proven the genuineness of your faith…

All along it was a test to see whether Abraham would let anything stand between him and God. Back in verse 2 God said, “ Your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love” and Abraham proved he wouldn’t even let that son stand between him and God.

—-

And there is something that stood out to me that I want to draw your attention to…

Consider most of the chapter has been a record of Abraham’s obedience. As you go through the chapter you can see example after example of Abraham obeying
God, working toward passing the test God had for him. I want to briefly look back through the verses to see how they’re largely a record of Abraham’s
obedience up to the very end…

  • In verse 3:

o He rose early in the morning

o He saddled his donkey

o He split the wood for the burnt offering

o He went to the place of which God told him…which was 50 miles away.

  • In verse 5 he told the two servants to stay behind so they couldn’t stop him.
  • In verse 6 he put the wood on Isaac to carry and he took the fire and the knife.
  • In verse 9:

o He built [the] altar

o He placed the wood in order…

o He bound Isaac

o He laid him on the wood

  • Then, in verse 10 notice these important words: Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
    This precise moment – when Abraham engaged in this specific action – is when he finally passed the test. Abraham had a long record of obedience, but it
    wasn’t until this moment that he passed the test. God knew the hand that had the courage to pick up the knife would not have hesitated to perform the
    sacrifice. And it’s at that moment Abraham was stopped.

What we see in Abraham is a very obedient man who was able to pass a very difficult test. He did everything God wanted Him to do, one-thing-after-another,
until the test was passed. And Abraham was able to do this – Abraham was able to pass this test – for one very simple reason: he trusted God.

And this brings us to the next lesson…

LESSON 2: WE PASS TESTS BY TRUSTING GOD.

Abraham was able to pass the terribly difficult test God gave him for one very simple reason: he trusted God.

And we’re only going to be able to pass the tests God gives us by trusting God.

Let me ask you something…

What if Abraham’s faith was shaken and he stopped at any moment before he picked up the knife and held it over his son to sacrifice him?

  • What if Abraham stopped after verse 3?

o What if he rose early in the morning?

o What if he saddled his donkey and split the wood for the burnt offering?

o What if he walked 50 miles and reached Moriah but then he said, “I can’t do this. I don’t trust God.”

  • In verse 5 what if he didn’t tell his servants to stay behind, b/c he knew if he let them go they’d stop him and then he wouldn’t have
    to sacrifice his son…b/c he didn’t really trust God enough to do what God wanted.
  • In verse 6 what if he put the wood on his Isaac’s shoulders, took the knife and fire in his hand, but then said, “I don’t trust God enough to go any further than this.”
  • In verse 9 what if Abraham built the altar, bound his son, laid him on the altar, but never picked up the knife…what if he did
    everything he did up to verse 9 – all that great obedience – but he stopped before verse 10?

The whole story has been an account of Abraham’s trust in God up to the very end, but if he never held up the knife, he never would have passed the test
and heard the words of verse 12: “Now I KNOW that you fear God.”

And what allowed Abraham to do everything he did in this chapter, including – and probably most significantly – holding up the knife? His trust in God.

At the beginning of the sermon I said this was always only a test. It was never about Abraham ACTUALLY sacrificing Isaac; it was always only about whether
Abraham trusted God. And when Abraham held that knife, he proved his trust in God.

Now please listen to this…

And the tests we face in our lives are really about whether we trust God…

· It’s not about some amount of strength we have…

  • It’s not about how smart we are…

· It’s not about some amount of money we need…

· It’s not about whether it makes sense to us…

· It’s not about whether it seems fair to us…

It’s all about whether we trust God. And trials reveal whether we trust God or we don’t.

Please listen to this interesting verse: Jam 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he….now let’s pause right here. When
he…what?

  • When he walked to Moriah?

· When he built the altar?

· When he bound Isaac?

· When he laid Isaac on the altar?

Jam 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he OFFERED ISAAC HIS SON ON THE ALTAR?

Why does it say this? Are we justified – or saved – by works? No, we’re saved by grace through faith. But…

· When Abraham raised his hand it demonstrated the genuineness of his faith…

· When Abraham raised his hand it showed his great trust in God…

· When Abraham raised his hand it proved he had saving faith…

And the lesson for us is…

When our faith is put to the test through trials – it is our trust in God that allows us to go all the way to the every end and pass those tests – and when
we do the genuineness of our faith is proved.

—-

Now at the beginning of the sermon, I told you God never really wanted Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. What God wanted all along – as we’ve been discussing
this whole time – is He wanted to test Abraham.

But that’s not the only reason God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

The other reason – and I would say it’s the more important reason – relates to what we’ve studied in the previous messages:

· God wanted a type or picture of what He would do w/ His Son.

· God wanted something performed in human terms that would help us understand the sacrifice He would make w/ His Son.

So God asked Abraham to do w/ his son the one thing that most resembled what God would do: He asked a human father to sacrifice his one and only son that
he deeply loved. Reading this story helps us appreciate what God was willing to do and it reveals to us the great love God has for us.

But I want you to notice something: God didn’t just ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. We say that, but what did God specifically ask? In verse 2 [He said], “Offer him as a BURNT OFFERING.”

The test wasn’t just sacrificing Isaac, it was offering him as a burnt offering.

I’ve told you many times God is repetitive for a reason – there are no wasted words in Scripture – so when God repeats Himself, He wants us to notice. And
the words burnt offering occur 6 times between verses 2 and 13. That means almost every other verse we’re reminded of Isaac being a burnt
offering. It is stressed to make sure we notice.

So one purpose God had in this story was testing Abraham, but the other purpose God had was making Isaac look like Christ, and God wanted Isaac TO LOOK so
much like Christ, He called Abraham to offer him as a burnt offering. And this brings us to our last lesson…

LESSON 3: JESUS IS THE TRUE AND GREATER BURNT OFFERING.

Burnt offerings were completely consumed, and Jesus was our burnt offering in that His life was completely consumed.

Please listen to these verses:

· When burnt offerings are discussed in Lev 1, three times – in verses 9, 13 and 17 it says they’re an OFFERING made by fire, A SWEET AROMA to the Lord.

· Paul applies this imagery to Jesus: Eph 5:2 Christ has given Himself for us, an OFFERING and a sacrifice to God for A SWEET-SMELLING AROMA.

  • Lev 6:11
    says the priest carries the ashes [of the burnt offering] OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
  • Heb 13:12
    uses this language to discuss Christ’s sacrifice:He suffered OUTSIDE THE GATE. Therefore let us go forth to Him, OUTSIDE THE CAMP, bearing His reproach.
  • Lev 1:4
    describes what burnt offerings were supposed to accomplish: Lev 1:4 [The priest] shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf (the sinner’s behalf) to make atonement for him (for the sinner – that’s what it’s supposed to accomplish).

o When the priest put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, it pictured the transmission of the person’s sin to the animal.

o When it says [the burnt offering] will be accepted on [the sinner’s] behalf it’s referring to the animal dying in place of the sinner:
the NLT says the LORD will accept its death in your place.

o Finally it says the burnt offering is supposed to make atonement; this means it’s supposed to make the sinner right w/ God.

In most of the pictures of Abraham holding up the knife to sacrifice Isaac, his other hand is on Isaac’s head. This is deliberate: it’s understood that
since Isaac was to be a burnt offering, Abraham would put his hand on his head.

At the beginning of the sermon I mentioned the difficulty we have w/ this story:

  • How God could ask something like this.
  • How could God want Abraham to sacrifice his son?

God didn’t want that b/c like we’ve discussed it was always only a test, but the other reason God didn’t want Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering
is…

  • No sin would’ve been transmitted…
  • It wouldn’t have made atonement…
  • It wouldn’t have accomplished anything…
  • It wouldn’t have pleased God.

But here’s the question: did God want a burnt offering? Yes, He did…

· He wanted our sins transmitted to a sacrifice…

· He wanted a sacrifice that could be accepted on our behalf, or that could die in our place.

· He wanted a sacrifice that could make atonement, or that could make us right w/ Him…

But He didn’t want that burnt offering to be Isaac. He wanted it to be His Son.

Picture this…

· Priests in the OT laid their hands on the heads of those animals…

  • Abraham laid his hand on Isaac’s head…

But on that cross Isa 53:6 describes Jesus as our burnt offering saying the Lord HAS LAID on Him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus is the true and greater burnt offering that was willing to be completely consumed for our sins:

· If you’ve surrendered your life to Christ, your sins have been laid on Him.

· But if you haven’t surrendered your life to Christ, your sins remain on you.

God loves you. He wants to forgive you through the sacrifice of His Son, His only Son, whom He loves…but He loved us enough to sacrifice that Son in our
place.

If you have any question regarding whether your sins have been laid on Jesus, Pastor Doug and I will be up front after service and we would count it a
privilege to be able to speak w/ you.

LET’S REVIEW THESE LESSONS:

LESSON 1: (PART I) TRIALS TEST OUR FAITH (PART II) AND PROVE THE GENUINENESS OF IT:

· (PART III) TO OTHERS.

  • (PART III) TO US.
  • (PART IV) TO GOD.

LESSON 2: WE PASS TESTS BY TRUSTING GOD.

LESSON 3: JESUS IS THE TRUE AND GREATER BURNT OFFERING.

Author: Scott LaPierre