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Sunday: Mount Moriah — 20 Comments

  1. It makes me wonder, as a member of the Godhead aka the eternal WORD came (incarnate) in flesh, when did he Know what he Knew about his preexistence in eternity, and his part in the eternal covenant for children of God, before creation.

    Obviously not when he was a baby, and as a faithful son of Mary, attended Jewish festivals and ceremonies and learned the Torah.

    I wonder did the scriptures speak to him in a powerful way ?

    According to scriptures, we are told he baffled the priests in the temple as a kid, they were amazed at his insights.
    His mom obviously knew he could do extronery things by her confidence that he could produce wine at a wedding.
    He did have a personal witness at his baptism, as a voice was heard about his Sonship from God, and as a witness to John the Baptist that this person was the Christ.

    Did all these examples in scripture, like this study today, flash before his eyes, that this is the plan he opted into with his Heavenly Father, in eternity, to produced immortal sons of God by his death and resurrection ? Ephesians 1

    Now as sons of God from Christ's seed, akin to Eve produced from Adams body, are we not a small part of that extended body ?

    Question in Study: What does the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah say to you personally about your faith and how you manifest it?

    Answer: There are no words that I can adequately express the *reality* of that *shadow* of Abraham and Isaac. It's way too emotional and beyond my pay grade.

    • Hi Larry,
      I believe Christ learned of His mission in the normal manner of a human child. Mary and Joseph knew who He was. So they would have taken extraordinary care to teach Him about God's plan of salvation and gradually they must have taught Him that He was the Promised One. The mission must have dawned on Him gradually as He listened to His parents and studied the Scriptures available to Him, under the tutorship of the Holy Spirit. As He prayed to the Father the way His parents taught Him, He was taught by the Holy Sopirit. When you write of an understanding that might "flash before his eyes," I think that must have happened during the process of study.

      A twelve-year-old has the reasoning powers of an adult, if not the experience. He must have studied all the Messianic prophecies with a keen interest, and He must have come to the realization that the prophesied Messiah was not exactly who the leadership of the nation expected. This understanding grew as He grew into adulthood. And the Holy Spirit revealed more and more to Him as He spent time in solitude with His Father.

      There are so many implications that we can't even imagine ..

  2. Today's lesson raises the dilemma that many experience regarding the notion of God 'testing' Abraham. Part of the dilemma is due to our background familiarity with experiences of being 'tested' by authority figures - including the nature of those texts (eg exams).

    If we consider things more broadly and from a functional perspective* in particular, we find a wider reality that suggests a similarly wider understanding and interpretation of what we term 'testing'. There are aspects of our growth and development that only grow and develop (or even are only maintained) due to exposure to being 'strained'. One example is resistance-training which is a significant part of physiotherapy, for instance. What we observe is that such growth and development does not occur - and is not maintained - in the absence of exposure to strain. For example, where there is no ongoing exposure to sufficient strain, muscle atrophy occurs.

    I propose that faith is similar in nature. Within a sin-infected world, faith is only grown and maintained by being exposed to experiences that strain or test the exercise of faith and all that encompasses (as per Romans 1:17 principles).

    Yes, the outcome of the experience is diagnostic or evaluative - as is every step along the way. But the diagnostic/evaluative aspect is not separated from the growth and development aspect.

    Thus, I would propose that God was not 'testing' Abraham to see if he would pass or fail 'the test'. God's omniscience already knew Abrahams 'faith status'. Rather, I find that Abraham was presented with yet another growth experience to help facilitate his progressive learning of God's "higher ways" and his associated growth and development of faith in God and his "higher ways" (as per Romans 4:20-22).

    * A 'functional perspective' is the consideration of how things actually function or operate.

    • But Abraham's faith was counted "righteousness" before God imposed the test at Mount Moriah to him. God counted Abrahams' faith as "righteousness," when Abraham first "believed" God when God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (even though Abraham never inherited this land himself at all.) Adam and Eve were also tested and they failed the test. King David kept being tested over and over and over and he failed over and over and over. This is why King David also wrote in Psalm 40:11,12 that his sins were more than the hairs of his head. And that was also why in that same Psalm in verses 6-10 King David mentions how that animal sacrifices would not be what would save him or us but God's own Son and His Sacrifice would and very much so and it "surely does and amen and amen for this."

      • Hi Pete

        Have you considered that "imposed" is ultimately and therefore fundamentally an act of arbitrariness - and that arbitrary is one of the key insinuations that Satan has made against God's nature, character and ways (eg Genesis 2:16-17 compared with Genesis 3:4-5)?

        • Yes, Satan is the one who is arbitrary - operating without any standards, randomly, without rhyme or reason except to promote himself.

          I trust the Word of the LORD, His Government, His Principles of Life, He promotes order and harmony in the Universe.
          Psa 89:14 MKJV  Justice and judgment are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth shall go before Your face.
          Psa 19:7-11 KJV  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.  (8)  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  (9)  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  (10)  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  (11)  Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

        • The point I am trying to make here, Phil van der Klift, is that the test at Mount Moriah for Abraham, from God, and the fact that Abraham did not fail that test was not what made God count Abrahams' faith as "righteousness." God had already counted Abrahams' faith as "righteousness," way before Abrahams' test at Mount Moriah, and it was not about Jesus' sacrifice then either, it was about God promising Abraham the land of Canaan at that point in Abrhams' life. At that point for Abraham it was just his faith toward God and God's promise to him about the land of Canaan. King David kept being tested time and time again and again and he kept failing again and again and even Abraham kept failing again and again like he did when he lied about his wife twice and I am sure he failed more than that and scripture porbably just does not record those other failures. It is God's Sons' flawlessness and our faith in that which God counts as "righteousness," for us. It was this that God counted as "righteousness," for Abraham and for King David too. And yes, Abrahams' test at Mount Moriah was a very trying one for him but God had already counted Abrahams' faith as "righteousness," before his test at Mount Moriah, and that was why God did not make Abraham go through with sacrificing his son Isaac either.

    • Is it possible that we’re looking at too small of a picture? Phil, you mentioned that God knew Abrahams heart, and I completely agree with that. But the rest of the universe that was watching this unfold, and all of humanity in the future cannot know what is in a persons heart. Abraham himself needed to have a confirmation of his faith. He had finally learned that God will come through on His promises, and this test solidified that for him. Then there’s the bigger picture. Jesus himself, in John 17, prayed to his Father that I would believe in him because of the written words of his disciples, which I think is all of scripture. Jesus himself learned who he was and what he was up to by reading scripture, which for him was only the Old Testament. For individual stories to make sense, I have to look at scripture as one entire story, because in my mind it is the story of sin and redemption.

      • Thanks for your input Karen. I agree with you regarding the wider context of the many witnesses to Abraham's heart state - including Abraham himself and even ourselves down the track. And those were outcomes of Abraham's experience at Mount Moriah and all his other experiences across the rest of his life - as they were and are outcomes of many other's experiences across the entire landscape of scripture (as per 1 Corinthians 10:11 and Hebrews 12:1-2 principles) and the lives of each person beyond scripture. Every experience of every person every day inherently displays many aspects of the spectrum of issues that make up the "Great Controversy".

        When I was in primary school, formal tests were administered as the 'evidence' of my educational capacities and abilities. Nowadays there is less emphasis on formalised testing and more emphasis on collection of samples of student's classwork as 'inherent' evidences reflecting that student's capacities and abilities. The negotiation of life and living itself is a 'test' - just not a formalised one.

  3. What do we do when we have difficulty understanding a passage like this one? We compare Scripture with Scripture, are there any other passages that talk about testing? Yes, there are many. Share some that have helped you understand this event.
    This was a personal interaction between the LORD and Abraham, why was it recorded? Did the LORD doubt his faith or did the reader doubt him? Does this help us understand the LORD or Abraham or the nature of faith? Or all of those?

      • Other suggestions on testing:
        To expose motivations in hearts and minds.

        The only reason why God did not completely destroy all mankind in the flood, was in his foreknowledge he seen *right hearted ones* (but not perfected, obviously) that would respond to his offer of Sonship in his Christ, and to complete his eternal plan and desires in the Godhead for immortal Sons in the divine image! (Godly qualities and charachter)
        Ephesians 1

  4. Abraham referred to the place where he was tested with Isaac 'in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen (or provided).' I believe Jesus referred to that experience when He said (recorded in John 8) 'Abraham saw my day and rejoiced.' I believe God revealed to Abraham at that time the true import of animal sacrifice, as first instituted in Eden after the fall. God is our personal Savior.

  5. And can I also add another dimension to your point. I believe Abraham's failures and God's constantly coming down for him has strengthened his faith to the point that it is no longer the call to sacrifice his son was seen important. Nor the distance, nor the type of sacrifice or anything that may tempt him to be disobedient. No wonder the angel if the Lord called out twice to get his attention. I long to possess such faith.

  6. I find this story quite hard. I know it says that Abraham's faith was tested and God even says that He knows that Abraham fears God because of what he was willing to do. However, how can God test someone by telling them to do what is wrong. Human sacrifice was condemned by God. If I told you God had told me to go to the store and steal and bring the money to the church to show my trust in Him, you would all say that I was deceived. So I just find this problematic and I just don't know how to understand it.

    I have to believe that the story was really about showing Abraham where salvation would come from and giving him a glimpse of the great sacrifice the Godhead would make to save us.

    • Hi Christina

      Yes, this is a hard story - along with some others in scripture. One of the difficulties we face is that our mind tries, by default, to understand the story from our perspective and what we are familiar with - without us being aware we are doing this.

      It is necessary to keep Abraham's context and background in mind at the time this event happened. Abraham was a follower of God - but his background and context was paganism. Within that context, sacrificing of firstborn males to a 'god' as a sign of devotion to the gods was 'normal' practice. So, being asked of God to do this would not have seemed as outright wrong to Abraham as it seems to us today. It would potentially have been confusing - but not abnormal or 'wrong'.

      Another point is that God's condemnation of child sacrifice came later - and in response to child sacrifice having been carried out by some of His followers (as well as the surrounding peoples).

      One thing that is easily overlooked is that the knowledge of God and His Ways dramatically declined after sin's entry. Abraham was genuinely committed to God - but he was progressively growing in his knowledge of this God who was very different to what Abraham and others were familiar with. Consequently, that God was having to progressively teach and develop a knowledge of Him and His Ways - particularly during the earlier parts of the Old Testament - is an important part of bible interpretation that needs to be kept in mind, though it is not something that I believe has been sufficiently emphasise.

      How was God going to teach? By starting with what they were familiar with and then showing them how His Ways were different - hence starting a familiar sacrificial ritual but ending it differently.

  7. What I see here is the type and the anti type. Abraham represent God the father who is willing to give His son to save the world. Isaac carried his wood for the sacrifice. Jesus in the new Testament carried his cross to sacrifice himself for our sins. I see the similarities. While Abraham's time, lamb for sacrifice takes the sin of the people, but the ultimate sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world is Jesus Christ. What a promise that was shown to Abraham. The promise that was brought back to Adam and Eve which they failed to believe. However Abraham keep this promise and offered his son as a sacrifice because he has the faith that made him submissive to God's will, no matter what he losses in the end.

  8. Perhaps I should have asked this question before, but for those of you still reading, I ask this:

    Have you ever gone through a Mount Moriah experience?

    I would think that most of God's people have gone through something similar or will go through something similar - though tailored to our own individual personalities and experience.

    I remember when I had to come to a point where I had to give up something very dear to me, a part of me, in fact - to the point that it felt like dying. (I'm sure Abraham felt like he was dying and wished he could die instead of Isaac.) When I yielded to the Lord on this, He essentially said, "That's what I needed from you," and He gave me back what I had yielded - better than before.

    It is also similar to what Christ asked of the rich young ruler. He asked him to give up what was most dear to him. But the young man thought it was too much and missed the opportunity to be a disciple of the King of Kings.


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