Mt. Moriah: Mount of Sacrifice
November 30th, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-30-88 7:30 p.m.
[After] the message tonight, we’re going to have an ordination of deacons; but when we come to church, we don’t feel right if we don’t have a message. And the one tonight, in our preaching through the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible – the one tonight is one of the most meaningful and moving to be found in all the Word of God. It is concerning Mount Moriah: The Mount of Sacrifice.
I wish I had time to read the chapter. God tries Abraham and says to him, "Take your son, your only son Isaac . . . and go unto a land of Moriah, and offer him there . . . upon one of the mountains that I’ll show you" [Genesis 22:2]. So he goes, and after a three days’ journey, he sees the mount [Genesis 22:3-4]; and when he binds his son to lay him upon the altar and raises the knife to plunge it into his heart, God stops him [Genesis 22:9-13]. God seizes his hand and shows him a ram in a thicket, and he offers up the ram as a burnt offering in the stead of his son; and Abraham called that place, "Jehovah-Jireh" – literally "Jehovah sees. Jehovah provides" [Genesis 22:14].
It’s an unusual thing that place. That’s the place where David made intercession before God when the Lord plagued the land because of the sin of the king [2 Samuel 24:1-25; 1 Chronicles 21:1-30]. That’s the place where the temple was built, Solomon’s temple [2 Chronicles 3:1]. It’s a place today, where, when you go visit it, the Mosque of Omar is there; and it’s just this side where Jesus was crucified. That’s where God sent Abraham to offer up his boy Isaac.
The Bible is a Book of the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan. It is not a book of history as such, though there is nothing in the record that is untrue to any historical fact. The Bible is not a book of science as such though every word in the Bible is true and in nowise contradicts any scientific fact. But the Book is a book of redemption; it shows us how to be saved.
The Book begins with the woman and the sin of her and her husband [Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7], and because it began in her, God says redemption will begin in her also. The seed of the woman – the seed of the woman shall bruise Satan’s head [Genesis 3:13-15]. So the story unfolds: Seth is chosen [Genesis 4:25-26], and then Noah is chosen [Genesis 6:5-9:17], then Shem is chosen [Genesis 9:18-27], and finally Abraham [Genesis 11:10-12:7].
Now the years go by, and there’s no fulfillment of the promise of God to Abraham that he’ll have a son. He’s victorious over the battle of the kings [Genesis 14:1-16], and he becomes rich and prosperous, but he doesn’t have an heir. He doesn’t have a child, and in the fifteenth chapter of the first Book of Genesis, Abraham speaks to the Lord about it [Genesis 15:1-3]. That’s one of the great chapters in the Bible, Genesis chapter 15. So the Lord takes him out and shows him the heavens, and God says, "Look at the stars in the sky . . . So shall thy seed be" [Genesis 15:4-5]. And he’s childless: "So shall thy seed be."
And the fifteenth chapter says that Abraham believed God. That’s the first time the word is used in the Bible: "Abraham believed God, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness" [Genesis 15:6]. Those stars were no longer stars. They were promises and covenants and blessings.
Well, the years continued to pass, and he doesn’t have an heir. He’s now, in chapter 17, he’s 99 years old [Genesis 17:15-19, 24], and Sarah, his wife, is 89 years old [Genesis 17:17]; and they don’t have a child. Then in chapters 18 and 21, the child of promise is born [Genesis 18:10-15, 21:1-8], and they named him "Laughter" – Isaac – rejoicing [Genesis 17:19, 21:3]. Then we come to chapter 22: the commandment to sacrifice Isaac [Genesis 22:1-2]. A burnt offering – that was the most despicable thing that a child of God, a disciple of God, could ever experience.
You see, the heathen burnt their children [to] Molech [Leviticus 18:21, 20:2-5; 1 Kings 11:1, 7; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35]. O God in heaven, the terrible ordeal of heathen worship. Not only was it unthinkable and abominable, but it was terrible, cruel, fierce. And when God tells Abraham to do that, you can hardly imagine the conflict it precipitated in Abraham’s soul. He was torn asunder between fatherly love and obedience to God.
I don’t have time to read it, but in [Genesis, chapter] 22, verses 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12, that boy is referred to as "your only son": the tender, loving, fatherly, shepherdly response of Abraham to that boy; and God says to burn him, to offer him up as a burnt sacrifice [Genesis 22:1-2]. Oh dear, think of that journey! Three days and every step of the way was like the bleeding of a wound [Genesis 22:3-4]. It was like the tolling of a death bell. It seemed to rend the very religion of Abraham in twain. Faith in the promise in which he had been living all of his life – that he’d have a son – drew one way, and obedience to God’s now command drew another way. It seemed that God had not sworn falsely before and surely means what He commands now. God seemed to be against God, and faith seemed to be against faith, and the promise seemed to be against promise.
Hebrews 11 – and I’ll not read that – describes the conflict in Abraham’s heart [Hebrews 11:17-19]. He trusted God before Isaac was born [Genesis 15:1-6; Romans 4:1-3, 16-22], and he’ll trust God now that Isaac stands before him. He will trust God when Isaac was given to him, a live child; he’ll trust God still if Isaac lies upon an altar dead. Abraham reaches the very zenith of faith when God’s way seemed contradictory – to be more willing to believe apparent impossibilities than to doubt the Word of God [Genesis 22:5, 7-8]. Somehow Isaac, slain, will still live and inherit the promise [Genesis 17:19, Hebrews 11:17-18]. Anything was possible except that God would fail. Put Isaac to death, then God will raise him from the dead [Hebrews 11:19]. So he calls the place "Jehovah-Jireh: God will provide" [Genesis 22:14].
The altar is raised: rough, uncut stones. By commandment, you could not hew the stone out of which an altar was made before God. The boy is bound, and the knife is raised, and the substitute is given [Genesis 22:9-13] – the ram caught in the thicket, thorn-crowned. Abraham felt the anguish of a father’s heart giving up his only son, but he was spared. God in heaven was not spared. He gave His Son, and He died before God on the cross [John 3:16, Romans 5:8]. God’s Son was not spared. He became our substitute that we might not die [Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2, 4:10].
Isaiah looked upon that sight 750 years before Christ and wrote: "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief. He hath made his soul an offering for our sin" [Isaiah 53:10]. Paul looked back upon that sight and said, "God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" [Romans 8:32]. And even the mockers, the high priest and the Temple court, marching up and down before the cross of the Lord said, "He saved others. Himself He cannot save." [Matthew 27:41-42]
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow and mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
["When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," by Isaac Watts, 1707]
Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing grace, love undone,
And mercy beyond degree!
But drops of grace can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
‘Tis all that I can do.
[Adapted from "Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed," by Isaac Watts, 1707]
Who could stand and say, "I am worthy of the sacrifice of God’s only Son"? Lord, in heaven, how is it that one so unworthy as I should be the object of God’s grace and love? That’s the faith. That’s the Christian message. That’s the gospel of assurance and redemption. Unworthy as we are, we are precious in His sight. It was even for us that He gave His only begotten Son.
Now, Fred, I want us to sing a stanza of a hymn, any hymn you choose, and I’ll be standing here at the front. And if there’s anyone here tonight to whom the Spirit of God would lead in faith to the Lord Jesus, you come and stand by me. If there’s a family that would love to come into our dear church, or if God has pressed upon your heart an appeal to which you feel you should answer with your life, you come to me. God bless you, sweet people, while we stand and while we sing.
MT. MORIAH MOUNT OF SACRIFICE
3/46 and 8/48 and 12/88
Palace Theater 3/69
The Bible–a book of the
unfolding of God’s redemption plan for the world.
Not a book of history as
such, though the ancient record of humanity.
Not a book of science as such
though a corroboration of all true science.
A book of redemption. How
God saves men.
1. Begins: the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s
: the story unfolds: Seth is chosen. Enoch, Noah, Shem.
and now Abraham. The
promise to him.
Gen. 12:2,3;23:18 “thy
2. The years pass: no fulfillment.
Victories over the alliance
of the kings.
Riches, Spoils. Herds,
cattle, servants, but no child, no heirs.
Gen. 15. Abram speaks to the
Lord about it. The Lord showed him the
heavens “and he believed”
First time used in Bible.
Biggest word ever entered heart of man.
Not story only now, but
promise, covenant, blessing, as the rainbow to Noah, the stars to Abram.
3. The years pass: no heirs.
Gen 17. Abram 99, Sarah 89 17:5 changed Aham to Abraham,
} 17:15 changed Sarai to Sarah
Gen. 18, 21 the child born
Gen. 22. The commandment to sacrifice Isaac.
“A burnt offering”
the terrible ordeal of heathen worshipers.
(the dark story of sin, all
humanity thru ages)
The vast, indescribable
sorrow to Abraham.
The terrible conflict in
1. Torn asunder between fatherly love and obedience to God.
Gen. 22:2 set forth in the
Lord’s very words.
3,5,6,7,8,9,10,12 at every
turn, the tender bond of relationship.
How terrible the task, to
put it asunder with his own hand.
The journey: each step like
the slow falling of a bull. Like drops
of blood heard falling from a fatal wound.
2. Seemed to rend his very religion in two.
Faith in the promise in
which he had been living all his life–drew one way.
Obedience to latter command
Sure God had not falsely
But means what He commands
God seemed to be against
Faith seemed to be against
Promise seemed to be against
Heb. 11:17-19 describes how
Abraham battled it out.
He trusted God before Isaac
He trusted God when Isaac
stood before him….
He will trust God now when
Isaac is on the sacrificial altar.
To obey was for man–to keep
his promise was for God.
Abraham reaches the very
climax of faith when God’s ways seem contradictory, to be more willing to
believe apparent impossibility than to doubt God.
Somehow, Isaac slain was
still to live in heart –the promises.
Anything was possible, but
that God’s way should be first was impossible.
Put Isaac to death? Then God
will raise him from the dead! Heb. 11:19, Rom. 4:20.
The place- near where Christ
–where David place the ark
of the covenant.
–where temple later
built. Altar of sacrifice later.
The substitute: the rams
caught in a thicket.
:Abraham felt the anguish of
a father’s heart giving up only son, but he was spared the fatal blow.
“God will provide”
The provision, the
substitute was His own Son.
The penalty, the fatal
thrust, us in our sins, He bore Himself.
God’s Son could not be
Isaiah looked upon that
sight: 750 BC. Is. 53:4-10 "It pleased
the Lord to bruise him. He hath put him
to grief; he hath made his soul an offering for sin."
Paul looked back upon that
sight. “God spares not his own
son, but delivers him up for us all.”
The high priest looked upon
that sight: “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” Matt. 29:42.
See from his head, his
hands, his feet.
Sorrow and love flow mingled
Did e’re such love and
Or thorns compose so rich a
But drops of grief can ne’er
the debt of love I owe.
Here Lord, I give my self
Tis all that I can do.
“When I Survey the