How God Makes Doing the Impossible Possible
April 4, 2021 Resurrection Sunday
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (Philippians 1:21; 2Corinthians 5:1,2,5-8; John 11:25,26)
A. We Christians have a pretty good view of death.
1. We don’t worship death, but we don’t freak-out about it either
2. We kind of look forward to it as Christians
a. Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
b. 2Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
c. 2Corinthians 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
e. 2Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
f. 2Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
g. 2Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
h. John 11:25,26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
B. Listen to our music…
1. It Is Not Death to Die – we Christians REALLY believe this as crazy as it sounds
a. “It is not death to fling, Aside this earthly dust
b. And rise with strong and noble wing To live among the just
c. It is not death to hear The key unlock the door
d. That sets us free from mortal years To praise You evermore”
2. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, By Martin Luther, Germany (1528)
a. “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever.”
3. My Jesus I Love Thee, by William Ralph Featherston, 1864
a. “I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
b. And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
c. I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
d. If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
e. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
f. And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
g. And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
h. If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”
C. We got that belief from some people in the Bible who learned how to trust God in the face of death. Who learned that death is not the end
D. The Apostle Paul taught entire chapters in the Bible about the resurrection being THE most important reality for the Christian! Why?
1. Because, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the power behind what we do (Philp 3:10)
2. Whatever God asks us to do, we can do it in the power, not of just good truth
3. Or in the power of each other’s encouragement
4. But in what Paul calls, the power of the Resurrection!
5. I can do all things through the LIVING JESUS CHRIST
6. Just as death has no more dominion over HIM, it has no more dominion over any believer!
II. Background (Genesis 22:1,2) (One of my most favourite portions of Scripture)
A. God Tests What We Claim to Believe (Genesis 22:1,2)
1. Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2. Genesis 22:2 And 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.
3. God used many extreme events in the lives of people in the past to show the depth and strength of faith
4. God put Abraham’s faith to the test – it is called “tempting” in the Bible – it means testing
5. But tempt means more than just a pull to sin, but a test to see if we will turn away from God
6. Abraham was not doing anything wrong… But his faith needed to be more than just words!!!
7. What did Abraham believe
a. That God was good – not many believe that anymore
b. That Isaac was a special gift from God – the fulfilment of an impossible promise 13 years earlier
c. That Isaac and his future children would one day become a great nation of many people
d. That God keeps His all His promises – all of them!
8. Well, God was now going to push Abraham’s faith and belief to the limit, to see if he REALLY believed all of that
a. We usually can rattle off all the things we say we believe
1) I believe God will take care of me
2) I believe God is good
3) I believe God is in charge, and always does right
b. But when troubles come, how many things do we still hold onto?
c. So, Abraham is about to go through a tough test
d. A necessary test
e. You see, Faith is not real, unless it is tested, and proven!
f. Same with everything!
1) A bridge is no good unless is has been tested and proven to hold up under stress
2) A new car design needs to be thoroughly tested before it is sold
3) A new “vaccine” is supposed to be thoroughly tested before distribution
g. So our faith must be tested
B. There is A Cost to Believing God (Genesis 22:3)
1. Genesis 22:3 And 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.
4. God commanded Abraham to take that teenaged son of his named Isaac, and lead him to a small mountain called Mount Moriah… and there, kill him
5. What a command!
6. God only asked this of one man, and only asked it as an example of what He as God the Father was going to actually do one day in the future
7. But to Abraham, this was the worst price to pay to believe God
8. And yet, he hesitated not, the Bible says
a. Abraham DIDN’T drag his feet and delay
b. Instead, he got up early the next morning
c. Prepared for the long, three day journey to Mount Moriah
d. Gathered wood for the altar fire
e. Told his wife and his son that they were going to a special place, to WORSHIP God
f. They were headed to the place God told him to go – Mount Moriah
g. We now call that place, Golgotha
h. It must have been wonderful for Isaac to spend those three days with his dad on that journey… like a family camping trip with just Dad
i. But it must have been the worst time of Abraham’s life trying to believe God along that journey
j. And Abraham never hesitated – he didn’t quit – he didn’t get angry – he didn’t argue
k. He just step by step journeyed to that hilltop!
C. You Need to See the End of Your Faith (Genesis 22:4)
1. Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
2. This is the best part
3. And after three of the longest days in Abraham’s life, he looked up and SAW the place where his son would soon die, “afar off” (vs 4)
a. What did he actually “see”
b. He saw something more than just a hill, or even a place of death, and sacrifice
c. He saw way beyond all that
d. God showed Abraham HIS OWN SON, JESUS on the very same mountain way out in the future
e. This is the moment that Jesus referred to when He spoke of Abraham in John 8…
4. Let’s read John 8:51-59 real quick…
a. John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
1) What a statement! How could Jesus say such a thing?
2) Everyone dies!
3) EVERYONE sees people die!
4) NO ONE escapes death
5) And yet Jesus promised people who follow Him would never experience death
7) THIS is why I believe in the resurrection, and why I can trust God with my impossible situations!!!
b. John 8:52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
1) The Jewish leaders believe that ONLY a demon-possessed person would say that if someone followed them, they would never experience death
2) EVEN ABRAHAM, the greatest man of faith ever, died
3) And all the great prophets of history (Samuel died, Moses died, Daniel died, Isaiah died, Jeremiah died, and so on)
4) Yet here was Jesus saying a believer in Him would never die!
5) Woohoo! Amen!
c. They continue to ask in John 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
1) They asked Jesus if He thought of Himself as greater than Abraham (which he was)
2) They could not believe ANY one would actually be saying such a thing
3) Who do you think YOU are?
d. John 8:54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
1) Jesus responds, “I am not saying anything except what God the Father has already said about ME as the Messiah”
2) “The question is, is God YOUR Father?”
e. John 8:55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
1) Jesus makes a very pointed statement…
2) “You do not know God” (even as religious as you are, you are ignorant of the God of Abraham)
3) But Jesus says that HE knows Him
4) “I am not a liar like YOU ALL are
5) And I am just obeying God”
f. John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
1) And then Jesus says something MARVELLOUS…
2) “Abraham SAW my day afar off”
3) And Abraham was GLAD, and it made what Abraham was asked to do, possible!
4) THAT IS THE POINT OF ALL THIS
a) Abraham did not just get up and decide that he could kill his only son Isaac
b) God showed Abraham something bigger that made any and every sacrifice possible
i. It made it possible for Abraham to trust God with the life of his only son
ii. It made it possible for Abraham to do the hardest thing imaginable
iii. It made it possible for Isaac to trust his father with a knife!
5) What did Abraham see? Three great things!
a) God Himself becoming the Lamb of God – the Ram is a male lamb
b) God showed HIMSELF sacrificing HIS SON, Jesus on a cross on the very same mountain almost 2,000 years later!
c) God sacrificing Himself, so all of us could, like Isaac did, go free and NOT die!
d) And it GLADDENED Abraham – made Abraham SMILE and Rejoice and WORSHIP in the midst of the deepest struggle he could ever have had!
g. John 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
h. John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
1) There it is!
2) Even though Abraham WAS dead, Jesus admits to:
a) To having been there with Abraham
b) That Abraham saw Jesus
c) That before Abraham ever was, Jesus said that He has always been!
d) HE claimed to be THE I AM! the very same as God – The ETERNAL God
3) That’s why in the next verse, all the religious leaders tried to stone and kill Jesus for such blasphemy!
i. John 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
5. Knowing all this helps us understand WHY Abraham was able to trust God so well!
D. So Back to Abraham in Genesis 22
E. The Power Behind Worship (Genesis 22:5)
1. Genesis 22:5 And 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.
2. What is Abraham going to do on that hill?
a. He is going to worship God
b. There is something powerful that happens when we just worship God, and trust God!
c. I hope you realise that Praying, singing, sacrificing, weeping, struggling – are all worship, when done in the presence of God!
f. Remember that!
3. Abraham goes alone with Isaac up that small mountain
a. The other men don’t go with them
b. Now, it is wonderful to have people around to worship with…
c. But worship is not only “a group thing” – like on a Sunday, when we are assembled together as a Church body
d. Worship is also “an alone thing” – where it is YOU worshipping God
1) Even though no one knows what you are going through
2) And no matter how hard it may be
3) And whether you are the only one worshipping and obeying, and praising God!
4) A Christians worships anyways!
4. And notice that Abraham plans on returning with Isaac after they have worshipped God – did you notice that? THAT IS GREAT FAITH!
a. Something he sees has convinced him that either Isaac will not die
b. OR, that if Isaac DOES die, that God will raise him right back up again! That God will RESURRECT him
F. Abraham Now is Able to Do the Impossible (Genesis 22:6-13)
1. Genesis 22:6 And 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.
2. So Abraham took the wood and placed it on Isaac!
3. He carried the burning torch in his own hand, as well as a KNIFE
4. And they went both TOGETHER up that hill!
a. Abraham is able to do this because he SAW God doing this 2,000 years later on the very same hill!
b. I hope you can “see” the wonderful picture of God the Father with HIS only begotten Son going to Golgotha… because that is exactly what they are acting out and following!
5. At the top, Isaac starts to cop-on – starts to see a problem (Genesis 22:7)
a. Genesis 22:7 And 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?
c. You have built an altar for the sacrifice
d. I see the knife to KILL the sacrifice
e. We have plenty of wood to BURN up the sacrifice
f. You brought the FIRE in your hand to light the sacrifice
g. But, WHERE IS THE SACRIFICE? Where is the lamb?”
6. Abraham says something that only faith can say (Genesis 22:8)
a. Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
b. “God will Himself provide the sacrifice”
c. “God will meet our need”
d. “God will take care of us”
e. How could Abraham be so confident? So sure of this?
f. Because of what he saw “afar off” on that hill that we know a cross would stand
7. And with those words… (Genesis 22:9,10)
a. Genesis 22:9 And 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.
b. Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
c. Isaac laid down willingly on that pile of wood
d. He LET his faithful father tie his hands and feet
e. And then closed his eyes, trusting his father, and trusting the God of his father
f. There was nothing for Isaac to do but trust!!!
8. And in that moment, at the last second, God intervened and stopped everything, and praised Abraham and Isaac for such faith and trust in Him! (Genesis 22:11-13)
a. Genesis 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
b. Genesis 22:12 And 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.
c. Genesis 22:13 And 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.
d. And God showed Abraham a male sheep (a ram) that would take the place of Isaac
e. In a split second, Abraham unties Isaac and grabs that male Lamb and ties it up on that altar of stone and wood and sacrifices it
f. Isaac gets up from that altar as if he had died and was alive again!
g. There was joy and worship and hugging and praise all around that dying Ram
h. And the death of that Ram let Isaac LIVE!
III. What All This Means
A. Genesis 22:14 And 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.
1. In the mount called Moriah, Golgotha something soul-saving will be seen!
2. “IT” was the cross, the tomb, and the resurrection of God’s Son!
B. That’s why Abraham was willing to lose the most precious thing in his life – his only son
1. Most parents would gladly give their life for their children’s
2. But Abraham was asked to keep his eyes on God and not on his family, or his property, or any of any of God’s other blessings!
3. Abraham was willing to let God be in charge of everything in his life – everything!
C. That’s why Abraham obeyed God without adjusting or negotiating anything – just did what God asked
1. He left Sarah, and his home, and abandoned his own will
2. And walked for 3 days (nearly 50 miles) to a small hill called Golgotha/Mt Moriah
3. And laid his only son on an altar of sacrifice, believing that God would have to raise his son Isaac back to life after his death – Abraham believed in the resurrection
Because Abraham saw Jesus’
death, and burial, and resurrection on that same mount.
He saw what WE get to “see” every time we read our Bible, and every time we come to church, and listen to Gospel preaching!
F. What do YOU see?
1. The disciples missed it no matter how many times Jesus told them it all would happen
2. Most people sitting in front of their laptops this morning, and even sitting in churches all over this world are not seeing what happened on that hill, and in that tomb!
A. It is YOUR TURN now to believe in the resurrection
1. That God is in charge of our lives in BOTH the good times, and hard times
a. When he blesses us with everything
b. And, when He asks us to lose everything
2. That God is good – He is not cruel, or harsh, or evil, but good, and gentle
3. That ALL the promises of God CAN be believed
4. That the resurrection is easy for God – God can handle even death and bring dead people back to life
5. That ALL believer’s (like Isaac) miss death now! Hallelujah!
B. Will you trust God with what you are holding close to you, dear Christian? With everything that you are worried about?
1. Will you see the worst day in history, where Jesus died on the cross, as the very reason to rejoice and trust God with your life? With your children? With your future?
C. And dear friend, if you are not saved, will you finally believe in the Gospel?
1. The good news that Somebody named Jesus has taken YOUR place and paid your sin-debt to God
2. Will you look at that same hill that Abraham saw, and see YOUR only substitute?
a. Because YOU are in trouble.
b. You may not even realize that you have a debt and that you have to pay for every one of your wrongdoings, everyone of your misdeeds, your hurtful words and your hurtful actions. Your wicked imaginations, and angry outbursts, and cruel words
c. We really don't think that we're that bad, We really don’t think we do too much wrong to anybody.
d. But we have built up such a list of crimes against people and God Almighty.
e. And you are going to die – the wages of sin is death!
3. So will you now Believe, just believe with all your heart that God swapped out your life with His own Son’s, and lets you go free? If you would just really, really believe it is true, you will like Isaac, become free indeed!
4. Listen to the apostle paul in Romans 10:8-9
a. Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
b. Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.