Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Theme: “A Construction Man” (Gen. 12:7, 8)

S-1031 2/17/08 2SIL/3A. Hymns: (O)#473; (S)#467 (C) #32 S.O.D.

Texts: Genesis 12:1-9; Romans 4:1-8, 13-17; John 3:1-17Matthew 4-1-11

Theme: “A Construction Man” (Gen. 12:7, 8)


(This sermon will be done in a first person narrative. Abraham will come out during the last stanza of the sermon hymn. He will be dressed in a Mesopotamia’s garments. He will sit on the steps by the Altar). (Gen. 12:7, 8)

Abraham comes out slowly looks at the congregation and sits down. Lifting his head upward begins to speak:

I am an old man now and have seen much in my 75 years upon the earth. I need to sit, because I am very tired from my travel. I would like you to know that I come from a long line of godly men—Construction men in my family. My 10th generation grandfather Noah, is well known to you. He is known to you as the builder of an arch that floated on the flood water for 150 days. But you probably didn’t know that he also built an Altar to the God of the Universe and the Maker of heaven and earth after the Lord delivered him and his family from the flood waters.

This same God, the God of all Grace, the one who made heaven and earth out of nothing came to me and spoke to me. This God who is unlike any of the other gods that many of my country men had in their homes and bowed too, came to me with a promise that I shall never forget.

Here is what He said to me:

“Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father’ household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

As I said before, I come from a family of construction men. My brother Nahor was busy building a city that he named after himself. But God came to me so that He might build a nation out of my seed. Out of my own body a nation would be raised to be the chosen people that speak of the God of all Grace.

It is hard for me to grasp this kindness, this grace, this love that God poured on me. As a way of thanking my gracious God, I built an altar to worship Him. That was my way to declare that God was the number one in my life and in my heart. As I picked each stone, I thought of what the altar upon which I would offer a sacrifice to praise Him meant.

This altar was used by my whole family. It was dedicated to the God of all Grace, the God of Noah, by whose Spirits I got to know Him. I didn’t worship by this altar alone, but all who came with me from Haran. I would teach these people about the God who has power and who has made Himself known to me and showed me kindness. In the new land we would worship the God of might and power, the God of goodness and grace, the God who called me out of all the men of my country.

Can you believe those promises? Me, Abram who am childless, would one day, have children as numerous as the sand of the sea shore and the stars in the skies. That wasn’t easy for me to believe. How can that be? I am just one man with a lovely wife and old man at that and my wife is past her childbearing years. Yet the promises of God entailed details that were beyond my understanding.

What if God spoke with you and told you these things? Would you have believed them? Would you have taken them to heart? But for me there was something in that voice. The voice of the One of all Grace who brought the world and everything that is in it out of nothing.

Oh, I should tell you that this was not the only time I constructed an Altar. Years later after these promises had been fulfilled and God gave me my own son—in my old age—the son whom I loved and named Isaac—meaning laughter, God came to me again. This time He asked me to do the impossible. PAUSE.

He said to me, “Abraham!” (by now my name has been changed from Abram to Abraham meaning the father of many nation).

“Here I am,” I replied.

Then God said [to me], “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Did I hear what God said? Was it true that He asked me to sacrifice my son or did I imagine it? God couldn’t! He wouldn’t! He can’t do this! Isaac is my son, he is the promised seed. He is the one who would be the line that would be the source of all nations. If I sacrifice my son, how will I be the father of many nations?

Yet, in my ears I heard the words, but they were hard to swallow. But in obedience, I knew I needed to follow the will of God. I had been walking and constructing altars for him for over 25 years. Even if I put my son to the death, I BELIEVED, God could and would raise Him from the dead.

And so, in obedience to the will and command of God, I took my son, the one I love and headed to the mountain that the Lord directed me to. As we reached the mountain, I asked my servants to wait for us, while Isaac and I would continue to the mountain to worship the God of all Grace.

As we were walking, with Isaac carrying the wood for the burnt offering; he said, “Father, we have the wood, and the fire but with the lamb?” I looked at him with tender eyes and said, “My son the Lord will provide.”

Off to the mountain we went. One step after another and with each step, my hands began to sweat, my throat began to dry and tears began to well up within. I knew what lay ahead, but I kept hearing the voice of God, “Abraham, take your son, your only son Isaac the one you love…”

{Abraham gets up from the stairs and goes to the middle of the sanctuary}

Slowly (as if to drag the inevitable) I took the stones as Isaac brought them to me and piled them high, until at last the construction project was done—the altar for the sacrifice was complete.

Then, I had Isaac stretch out his hands and I tied them. I bent down and tied his legs, and picked him up and laid him on the altar (demonstrate) PAUSE.

I had hoped that I had forgotten the knife, but no it was right were it always has been by my side. I picked up the knife. I took a deep breath, and the smell of smoke burned within my lungs as I was about to torch the wood which was upon the altar, which held my son, my only son Isaac the one I love.

My hands now wet from sweat lost its grip on the hand of the knife. So I tightened my fist harder against the knife. My eyes met my son’s eyes as he lay on the wood looking up. I attempted to say sorry son, but this is what God had commanded me to do. It was a test of faith for me and also my son’s test—a test of obedience.

I looked down. I looked at my hand. I looked at the altar, the wood and living body on it. This doesn’t make sense I said. I spoke tender saying, “I love you Isaac” with tears coming down my eyes. And I heard my son say, “Father, I love you too.” Would you tell mother that I love her too? She is a great mother.” Chocking now for words, as tears shadowed my eyes, I spoke softly, and you will tell her son”

I held the knife tighter, raised it higher (lift the knife high) and it glistened against the fire. I took a deep breath for as long as I could and began to lower my shaking hands to slice Isaac’s throat. And then, out of nowhere, the voice vibrated in my ears as an earthquake, “STOP!” The knife came to a halt. In the split of a second before the execution God provided a solution. God spoke again, “Abraham, Abraham, I know that you fear Me, your son will not die” In an instant the knife fell to the ground and I bowed down and embraced my son in my arms and unloosed him from the wood and the altar. As I lifted him up, there not far from us was a ram stuck in the thicket. Isaac and I took the ram and sacrificed it at the altar in thankgiving to the Lord for what He has done. That day God constructed a nation.

But this is not the entire story. I speak to you today; I look from beyond the Jordan, the everlasting life of eternity. Remember what I said to my son the day he asked, “Where is the sacrifice?” I responded, “God will provide.” Indeed, God did. He sacrificed a lamb—His very own son for the sins of the world.

I, Abraham the father of the Nation that God would raise up from as good as dead man, wouldn’t be permitted to offer my son as a sacrifice, yet He who is the Father of all nations, offered the greatest and most precious gift—His beloved son—the LAMB of God. God in love and mercy and grace provided a solution for humanity. And He constructed an altar for the sacrifice. It was mot made out of stone or brick, but out of wood. On the same hill of Moriah, God gave His son’s life for me, Isaac and all people.

This is the God who in Grace gave me a son to fill my heart with joy, is here today to assure you of the gift of His Son that not only fills our hearts with joy, but more importantly removes every stain of sin and give us eternal life. I share this story with you because it needs to be told. When you see others tell them you met the Construction man.

(Abraham exits without saying a word).

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