Message – God Tests the Heart
Series: Thru the Bible – Genesis 20-21
God Tests the Heart
V1 – God’s Test’s hearts
- Psalm 7:9, “Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.”
- Prov. 17:3, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts.”
- 1Thess. 2:4, “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God Who tests our hearts.”
- Ishmael is NO LONGER considered a son by God or Abraham. The word used here is a general word for”son” and is in fact used of Ishmael as well, but that the word HERE has deeper meaning than simple “male child or offspring” is clear since NOTHING about sending Ishmael away could alter his parentage. He was in fact a son of Abraham. This proves that the term “son” has deeper meanings at times based upon the context as we believe it did in Genesis 6 concerning the “sons of God” – that it means “builder of the family name” or “heir”. It is VERY clear that this is what God means here and for a early human this was EVERYTHING! Isaac was his ONLY chance at perpetuating his name!
Ruth was the Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi (indirectly related to Israel – Moab was the son of Lot and his 1st daughter – Gen. 19:37).
Naomi had moved to Moab with her husband Elimelech where she had two sons. When they were grown one of the married Ruth. After a time all the men died and Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, Judah where Naomi was keen to get her daughter-in-law hooked up…both for her future provision and happiness and to perpetuate her husband & son’s name…
Ruth 4:1-5, “(1) Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down. (2) And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. (3) Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. (4) And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’ ” And he said, “I will redeem it.” (5) Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.”
- Devotion and Respect always require a death
- IF one is truly devoted (pure and undefiled religion as James calls it) it requires the death of other loves and devotions. Jesus tests hearts and illustrates this point during His teachings by way of comparison, “Whoever does not love me more than mate and children or any other allegiance is not worthy of Me.”
- The first and in fact only death that was required was the death of Isaac – not of the boy, but of his position in his father’s heart. THAT was and is the true focus of God’s tests.
- This is clear because God’s test of Abraham’s heart could hardly be considered “fool proof” if that for which God asked was something less than the most important thing in Abraham’s life.
Like Tozer said, In the 2nd chapter entitled, “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing”
Abraham was old when Isaac was born, old enough in deed to have been his grandfather, and the child became at once the delight and perhaps even an idol of his heart.
God went out of His way to comment on the strength of this affection. And it is not hard to understand. The baby represented everything sacred to his father’s heart: the promises of God, the covenants, the hopes of the years and the long messianic dream.
As he watched him grow from babyhood to young manhood the heart of the old man was knit closer and closer with the life of his son.
If only the man himself might have been allowed to die. That would have been easier a thousand times, for he was old now, and to die would have been no great ordeal for one who had walked so long with God.
Even if he could get the consent of his wounded and protesting heart, how could he reconcile the act with the promise, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called”? This was Abraham’s trial by fire, and he did not fail in the crucible.
The old saint had made up his mind. He would offer his son as God had directed him to do, and then trust God to raise him from the dead.
V 3. The scriptures say Abraham rose “early in the morning” to carry out the plan.
- Why Moriah?
Well so far as I can tell there were probably 3 reasons…
1.) Moriah was a three day journey – which is the number of divine perfection. God was here perfecting Abraham by way of testing his heart to purify it from all other loves and devotions. He gave Abraham 3 days to live with the idea that he would have to offer his son or to change his mind.
Other significant 3’s are:
• Jonah was in the great fish for three days.
• Three years old was the age of the sacrifices Abraham brought to God when he cut covenant
• Moses was hid for thee months by his mother
• Moses was told to ask Pharaoh to allow Israel to travel three days journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord.
• Jesus in the earth 3 days and nights…etc.
2.) Isaac had already been weaned and was now a young man – old enough to understand and help his father but still young enough to be lifted by this aging man to be placed upon the altar. We know that He was younger than 36 because that is when Isaac’s mother died.
Knowing God like we do, I speculate that Isaac was 15 years old because that would be 40 years from the time God called him from Ur and 40 is the Biblical number for tests and trials.
3.) The location of these hills were just outside of what would become Jerusalem many years later. As we have already seen in our studies, God doesn’t miss a beat. It is likely in the extreme that this location was the future location of Golgotha where God would offer up His only some Whom He loved… (Less than a mile apart – speculated to be on the same mountain ridge).
- Abraham – Abraham! (a lot like verily verily – this was an exclamation)
God will provide a Lamb by Michael Card
Three days journey to the sacred place
A boy and a man with a sorrowful face
Tortured yet faithful to God’s command
To take the life of son with his own hands
God will provide a Lamb
To be offered up in your place
A sacrifice so spotless and clean
To take all your sin away
Here’s wood and fire, where’s the sacrifice
A questioning voice and the innocent eyes
Is the son of laughter who you waited for
To die like a lamb to please the Lord
A gleaming knife, an accepted choice
A rush of wind and an angel’s voice
A ram in the thicket caught by his horns
And a new age of trusting the Lord is born
For God has provided a Lamb
He was offered up in your place
What Abraham was asked to do he has done
He’s offered his only son
- And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Also called the Lord has seen”)
- Tests and revelation – Out of Tests come revelation James 1:12
- God swore…
- Gen 22:16 HCSB “(16) By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD: Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son,
Quoting excerpts from Tozer again,
“Now he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing. He had concentrated his all in the person of his dear son, and God had taken it from him. God could have begun out on the margin of Abraham’s life and worked inward to the center; He chose rather to cut quickly to the heart and have it over in one sharp act of separation. In dealing thus He practiced an economy of means and time. It hurt cruelly, but it was effective.
I have said that Abraham possessed nothing. Yet was not this poor man rich? Everything he had owned be fore was his still to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds, and goods of every sort. He had also his wife and his friends,and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his side.
He had everything, but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret.
After that bitter and blessed experience I think the words “my” and “mine” never had again the same meaning for Abraham. The sense of possession which they connote was gone from his heart. Things had been cast out forever. They had now become external to the man. His inner heart was free from them. The world said, “Abraham is rich,” but the aged patriarch only smiled. He could not explain it to them, but he knew that he owned nothing, that his real treasures were inward and eternal.”
- 12 – the number of government
- The connection is pointed out in Gen. 22:20, as compared with Gen. 11:29, in the expression, “she also.” Nahor, like Ishmael and Jacob, had twelve sons, eight by his wife Milcah and four by his concubine; whereas Jacob had his by two wives and two maids, and Ishmael apparently all by one wife. This difference with regard to the mothers proves that the agreement as to the number twelve rests upon a good historical tradition, and is no product of a later myth, which traced to Nahor the same number of tribes as to Ishmael and Jacob.
- Ishmael – Gen_17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. Gen_25:16 These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements, twelve princes according to their nations.
- Side note: Job “May have been” a contemporary with Isaac since the young man Elihu who rebuked and interceded for Job is said to be a “Buzite” in Job 32:2. So it is at least “possible” that Elihu was a son or grandson of Nahor’s firstborn. If this is true that what I have always interpreted as nomadic Chaldeans raiding Job’s property, were simply a rogue group from Chaldea who happen to raid Job’s land. This is certainly worthy of consideration!
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