Mountain Peak of Genesis
Dr. Joe Temple

Will you open your Bibles, please, to the 22nd chapter of the Book of Genesis.

This is a happy ground for anyone who loves the Word of God. It is a mountain peak in the Book of Genesis which we approach and from which we go on to other things. This is a chapter, if one had to select one chapter from the book of Genesis exclusive of all others, from which he could teach, this is the one he would choose. Really, I do not know whether I will be able to say anything that will be particularly striking, because this chapter teaches itself. But I do hope that I will be able to call to your attention some things that may be a blessing to your heart.

We will read different portions of the chapter, and then we will go back and talk about it from a number of different standpoints.

We read from verse 1:

Genesis 22:

1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
15And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

We are going to stop our reading right there, and if we have the time, we will approach this passage of Scripture from an experimental standpoint and from a dispensational standpoint.

When we speak of approaching it from an experimental standpoint, we speak of seeking to know the experience which Abraham had at this particular time in his life and to see if by chance there has been a time in our lives when we have had like experience or, perhaps, to prepare our hearts for the time when we shall have such an experience.

From the dispensational standpoint, we want to approach it from the standpoint that in this chapter, away back in the Book of Genesis, long before the Cross of Christ was a reality, the Lord Jesus Christ presented the story of Calvary. I think if we are able to see that our hearts will rejoice.

Preparation for Trial

If you will notice verse 1:

Genesis 22:

1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…

We have been talking about these things that are included in that first verse, so we will not take the time to go back over them, save to say that by the things we have been talking about in the previous two chapters, Abraham was prepared for this supreme act of surrender in his life. Because that was what it was.

We need to be sure that we know what we are talking about when we look at the word tempt . Did you notice what it said: “God did tempt Abraham…” To most of us the words tempt and temptation usually have some reference to sin. If that is the only connotation it has for us, then we are putting God in a bad light indeed, and we are suggesting that God was encouraging Abraham to do something that was sinful. Someone may say, “Well, wasn't He? Wasn't it wrong to murder? Wasnt' it wrong to offer a human sacrifice? God was tempting Abraham to do something evil.”

I would like to say two things about that. First of all, God was not tempting Abraham to offer a human sacrifice. It only appeared that way on the surface. If you take the time to read and think beneath what is on the surface, you will find that God was testing Abraham in relation to surrender.

Will you turn with me to the Epistle of James. I have told you repeatedly as we have tried to study the Word of God that the commentary, or the best commentary, on the Scripture is the Scripture! That is what the Apostle Paul meant in I Corinthaians, chapter 3, when he said that when he taught the Word of God he compared spiritual things with spiritual. He interpreted spiritual truths with spiritual words.

A human illustration sometimes helps to put some light on a subject as it sometimes helps to open the drapes in a darkened room. But if you depend only upon human illustrations, you will never be able to see the dust under the bed any more than you will if all you do is put light in a room. It takes the right kind of light to produce the right kind of evidence. Scripture is the right kind of light.

A Purpose Behind Testing

In the Epistle of James, chapter 1, you will notice this passage of Scripture:

James 1:

1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Go down to verse 12 now and read:

James 1:

12Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

If you are thinking, two things you should already have assimilated. One is that you will fall into tests if you are God's child. They are going to be part of your living. But when you do, count it joy, because God has a purpose in it. You are going to come out of the test better than when you went into it, if you come out of it. But the sad thing is that some people get weary and tired, and they do not let patience have its perfect work. Because they do not endure as we are instructed so to do in verse 12, they do not receive promise.

Verse 13 says:

James 1:

13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

If you read this paragraph hurriedly, you are going to think that the Bible contradicts itself. You might say, “I always thought it did. I can not learn anything from it.” But if you read it carefully, you will find that this word tempt is an entirely different word from the word tempt in verse 12. If we read it with a difference in the word, I think it will become clearer to you.

For example, in James, chapter 1, verse 2, we read, paraphrasing:

James 1:

2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into the different kinds of tests which God has ordained for you.

Then in verse 12:

James 1:

12Blessed is the man who endures these tests, for when he is tried, [when he completes the test], he will receive a crown of life.
13On the other hand, let no man say when he is tempted with sin, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

We will stop our reading there and will go back to Genesis, chapter 22. We took this little side excursion to remind you that this thing that God tested Abraham to do was not a temptation to sin, but a test in relation to surrender.

Continual Surrender In Christian's Life

If you are keeping in mind what you have learned about Abraham, you will know that this is not the only act of surrender in his life. I wish I could stand here and tell you on the authority of the Word of God that you have to surrender only one time, and you will never have to surrender again. I wish I could tell you that.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to get everything settled in one night and never have any more tests and never have any more problems? Wouldn't it be wonderful to lose your temper for the first and last time and never lose it again? Wouldn't it be wonderful to doubt the Lord just once and never to doubt him again? Wouldn't it? Well, it just doesn't work that way.

Surrender, though it is always an initial thing, in a sense, in the life of a believer, is continual. As the Lord puts His finger upon this thing and that thing in your life, you surrender it. Are you willing to? I think most people are. But you know, the thing I have discovered that concerns most people is that they worry and they fret about whether they are surrendered or not. Don't you worry about that. You just let the Lord lead you and just study His Word, and when the Lord says to you, “Surrender this to me,” you surrender it to Him. If He does not ask you to surrender it, then do not worry about it. If He wants it, He will tell you.

I do not know how many times I have spoken with people who have heard a missionary speak, and their hearts have been thrilled as they have heard that missionary tell all the wonderful things that God has done in a new place where people have never heard the Word of God, and describe the response to it. Then they fret and worry and say, “Maybe the Lord wants me to be a missionary. I wonder if He does? Maybe I got out of the Lord's will ten years ago. Maybe I should be a missionary instead of what I am doing.” You should not worry and fret like that. If the Lord wants you to be a missionary, He will tell you. And when He calls you, obey. Until He does call you, don't fret about it.

Each Surrender Prepares for the Next

There were four surrenders in Abraham's life. That is why I have just said what I have. Each one of these surrenders in Abraham's life prepared him for the next surrender. Aren't you glad that God doesn't tell you everything right at the beginning? I am. I am so glad that God did not tell me thirty years ago when I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior what I know now. I am so glad He did not. He told me those things that I was able to accept at the time. I was like the Psalmist in that I refused to be concerned about those things that were too great for me. I believed that when God was ready to reveal the truth, He would.

Have you ever stopped to think how wonderful God was in writing the 23rd Psalm? Did you notice that He didn't put the valley of the shadow of death in the first verse? If He had, there would not have been much of a blessing. He put it down in the middle. Do you know where He told you about the valley of the shadow of death? He told you about the valley of the shadow of death after He had fed you real good and made you to lie down in green pastures. Then He told you about the valley of the shadow of death. It is a whole lot easier to take then than it would be right in the beginning.

Will you go back with me to the 12th chapter of the Book of Genesis, just to glance at it:

Surrender of Family

Genesis 12:

1Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

This is the first surrender that God asked Abraham to make. He asked him to surrender his family. He asked him to separate himself from his family. God does not have anything against families…not a thing in the world. He created and blessed families, but there comes a time when God wants you to surrender your family and put Him first. It is not always an easy thing to do. The Lord Jesus Christ reminded us that if we love father or mother more than we love the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not worthy of the Lord Jesus.

And I might add that if any of us as parents want to teach our children to love us more than they love the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not worthy of Him, either.

I do not think any of my children are here, so you will pardon a personal illustration. My daughter will be going off to school next year, and she loves her home very, very much, and she loves daddy a whole lot. She sat in my lap the other evening in the study and said, “Daddy, I just can not go. I just can not do it!” She was weeping, and she said it, and I said, “Honey, if daddy did what he wanted to do, He would say you are not going. But there comes a time when the claims of Christ have priorities over mothers and daddies. You could stay here at home, and you would be a joy to us, but you have a life to use for Christ, and you have got to have the training. There comes a time when parents have to make that sacrifice.” And I said to her, “If the Lord tarries, some day when you have children, you will find out what a tremendous sacrifice your daddy is making to send you off to school next year.”

She knew that I was not talking about money. She knew I was not talking about expense. I suppose, when you do not have any money, as I do not, it is easy to sacrifice money. Money has never been a problem for me to sacrifice.

I was talking about that natural love and concern that we have for our children. I would be unworthy of the Lord Jesus Christ if I would not be willing to surrender my family.

That was the first surrender Abraham had to make. He had to surrender his family, get out from them, move from them, not go along with them any more.

Hesitating to Surrender Completely

I wish I could tell you that this surrender of Abraham's was a full and complete surrender, but it was not. He surrendered everybody but one who was very near to him. His name was Lot. Have you ever noticed how good God is? God did not fuss at Abraham right then, as He knew it was a big thing Abraham was doing. So He let him go for a while. He let him go until circumstances made it a little bit easier, and then He said to him, “Abraham, I want you to make another surrender. I want you to surrender your association with your nephew Lot.”

Keep in mind that Abraham had no children, and Lot was a blessing to him. But there came a time when God said, “I want you to surrender that.” And Abraham did. Sometimes we think about this chapter of Abraham and Lot and how Abraham said to Lot, “Now here is all the land before us. If you go to the right, I will go to the left. If you go to the left, I will go to the right,” and we think how unselfish Abraham was. We usually criticize Lot by saying, “The selfish old thing. He chose the right when he should have chosen the left.” You see, we are worrying about something that Abraham was not worrying about. Abraham was not concerned with which side Lot chose. Do you know why?

Abraham had already surrendered Lot. He had already made the surrender. After you make the surrender, the details do not matter. There is a reason why details bother people today and cause such mental distress…and my, I am concerned about the mental distress and emotional sickness there is in this day and time.

This last week I had a series of consultations with a person whom I had never met before who was burdened with this very thing. It seems as if it is a growing thing. I discovered…and I trust that I helped this individual to see…the reason why details are so important. The surrender has not been made. Once you make the surrender, the details are not important.

Lot has been surrendered, so which way he went did not make any difference at all to Abraham.

Surrender of Plans

But there was another surrender. This one is more difficult. It is presented in chapter 17. This was where God asked Abraham to surrender his plan to Him. You know, it is not so difficult to surrender family. It is not so difficult to surrender associations. It is difficult, but not so difficult. But it is very difficult to surrender your plan. It is very difficult to surrender your ideas.

Surrender of Ishmael

You see, Abraham wanted a son. He waited a long time for God to do something about it, and God did not. So he worked out a little plan of his own called the Ishmael plan. A son was born to him. You know how he loved that son, how interested he was in that son. And God said to him, “Now you have got to give up that son, because he is not in My plan.”

What was it that Abraham said? You will notice it there in chapter 17, verse 18. I think you see all the pathos of a heart that is fighting the battle of surrender when he said, “O that Ishmael might live before thee! Lord, please let my plan work.” He would have been perfectly content, wouldn't he? But my, what he would have missed. What he would have missed if he had held on to his plan. But reading on now chapter 18 to chapter 21 you will find that Abraham surrendered his plan. He was in the will of God now, and when God asked for this additional surrender, you do not find Abraham arguing about it. You do not find him questioning. You find him obeying God explicitly.

Surrender of Isaac

Look at chapter 22, verse 2:

Genesis 22:

2And he said, Take now thy son…

Notice how God emphasizes it! God does not deal with us falsely. He does not tell us that things are not going to be costly when they are. He lets us know that they are.

I have heard preachers say at times that if you will just come to Christ and let Him have His way with you, things will be so much better. Well, they may not be. They may be a whole lot worse! The difference is that there will be Someone to stand with you when things do get bad. It is often costly to follow the Lord . It is often costly to do what He wants you to do.

You will notice what God said to Abraham:

Genesis 22:

2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac…

Oh, that word Isaac meant a lot to Abraham. As I have pointed out to you, today we name our children after current idols, but in the Bible they named their children after spiritual experiences. When God uttered the word Isaac , Abraham knew what God was talking about.

Then He said:

Genesis 22:

2…whom thou lovest…

And oh, how Abraham loved Isaac. It was as though God were probing a little deep here…maybe a little deeper than most of us would think He had to probe.

And He said:

Genesis 22:

2…get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

“Start out trusting Me, and when you get there I will tell you what to do.”

I do not suppose I have a right to tell you what Abraham was thinking, since I do not know, but human nature has not changed a great deal. The word Moriah means place where the Lord provides . I can not help but think that as Abraham went, he thought, “I do not know what is going to come of this, but at least God chose the right place for this. Surely the Lord will provide.”

In verse 3 notice the readiness with which he obeyed

Genesis 22:

3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

You see, he was not playing. He meant business with God.

Sometimes, you know, when God asks us for surrender, we play with God. God asks us to go make a burnt offering, and we forget the wood on purpose. Then when we get up to the mountain we say, “God, I forgot the wood. I have got to go back and get it.” We delay the surrender that much more. There are people that have delayed surrender for years and years and years because they have not meant business with God. They have not just told God “No,” but they have forgotten the wood for the fire or something.

Notice verse 4:

Genesis 22:

4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. [That is, Moriah, a series of mountains there.]
5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

You say, “Wasn't it nice of the old man to make it easy on the boys. He should not have lied, though.” He did not! Abraham was not making it easy on the boys, and Abraham was not lying. Abraham was speaking in faith.

Will you go to the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, where we have the definite comments of the Holy Spirit on the attitude of heart manifested by Abraham in this particular instance:

Hebrews 11:

17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: [That tells us right away we are talking about the same thing.] and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

That is a little reminder. The promises that he is talking about here are that God was going to bless Abraham and the whole world through his son. God had told him that. Those were the promises that God gave, and now God says, “Sacrifice your son.”

In verse 18 one promise is specifically brought to our attention:

Hebrews 11:

18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

How could Abraham do this? Could he say, as many of us would have said, “Maybe I misunderstood God when He gave me that promise the first time?” How many of us do that? How many of us are defeated when trial comes? Instead of saying, “I know the promise of the Word of God, and regardless of the circumstance, the promise will be fulfilled.”

Reckoning With God

No, Abraham did not think he had misunderstood the promises, because in verse 19 he just reckoned with God. We plan our lives, we enter into our contract, all on a human level. We reckon without God. What a difference it would make if we reckoned with God.

In verse 19:

Hebrews 11:

19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

You see, when Abraham said to those two young men whom he left at the bottom of Moriah, “We will be back,” he was not whistling in the dark. Oh, you say, “Abraham knew that God did not really want him to do what He asked him to do. God is not foolish.”

How could he speak so? He could speak so because he thought, “My God gave me a promise, and I know that my God is able to keep that promise, even if he has to raise my boy from the dead.” That is faith. It is reckoning with God. How often we come up to a blank wall because we have gone as far as we can go, and we say, “Well, there is nothing else to do now.” True, there is nothing else that you can do, but there is no limit with God.

I wonder, as I suggest that you turn back to Genesis, chapter 22, whether we might not all be more easily surrendered if we would reckon with God. The reason many of us fail to surrender as we should is because we are afraid of things more than we are of God. I believe that every one of us ought to have a reverential fear of God.

We have the story here, and we are not going to take time to go back over it, but God intervened. He did not let Abraham slay his son. In verse 12 He said:

Genesis 22:

12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

“Abraham, you have been saying that you fear Me. You have been telling people that, but now you have proved it.” How many of us go about saying what we are and never being willing to prove it?

Justification Before God and Men

Will you turn with me, please, to the Epistle of James for another commentary of the Holy Spirit on this same passage of Scripture. The book of James is a book that is talking about justification, but it is talking about justification in the eyes of men. The book of Romans talks about justification before God, so it is a matter of faith. The book of James is talking about justification before man. That is a matter of works.

The Bible says , “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” That is faith in the finished work of Christ. It is perfectly possible for me to be justified before God and never be justified before men. That is the resason why so many of us face the problem of not knowing the condition of people. Though they have been justified before God, they have not been justified before men.

In James, chapter 2, verse 21:

James 2:

21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Justified by faith only as far as God is concerned, and justified by works as far as men are concerned.

If Abraham had not been willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, the Spirit of God says, then there would be no proof for anybody's mind that he had ever been justified before God. That is something for us to think about. I wonder if we ought not to be more concerned about it than we are.

Blessing of Surrender

Turn back to Genesis, chapter 22, the blessing of surrender. Do you know the blessing of surrender? There is always a blessing that comes with it. I suppose it is that God simply cannot stand to remain in debt to any of His creatures.

In chapter 22, verse 15, we read:

Genesis 22:

15And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

It is thought provoking to consider what might have happened if Abraham had not surrendered his son. He surrendered his son, and he became the father of more sons than it is possible for any human being to follow. That is always the way God does things. God has never taken anything from anybody but that He has returned many fold in its place.

You say, “Well, I do not know about that. I know a man who received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, and he wanted to do what was right, and his business went broke.” Well, who said anything about the blessings of God being limited to material possessions? We are so materialistic in our thinking that we cannot recognize even the blessing of God unless it is clothed in something tangible.

Abraham's surrender resulted in great blessings.

Place of Fellowship

One other thing I would leave you, because we will not have time to consider this from a dispensational standpoint. And that is a little secret I have noticed repeated over and over again in this chapter…a little secret that is related to surrender. Three little words are thrice repeated: “Here am I.”

Did you notice how many times God spoke, and that was the answer that was forthcoming?

In chapter 22, verse 1:

Genesis 22:

1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

Those are the words of fellowship.

In verse 7, fellowship with his son:

Genesis 22:

7…My father: and he said, Here am I…

In verse 11:

Genesis 22:

11And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

Need I draw a further parallel? Are you in that place of fellowship? Can you hear His voice as He calls you? Are you in that place of fellowship where you can answer immediately, “Here am I?” Or are you on the borders of the circle of fellowship, so that when the Lord speaks you have to say, “Just a minute, Lord.” Or are you so far out that when the Lord speaks you have to say, “Pardon me, Lord. Did you say something?”

These are figurative phrases, but they seek to portray to us the joy of being in the secret of His presence. Are you close enough so that when He speaks you can say, “Here am I, Lord,” ready to hear His voice?


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