Gilbert could not sleep well for the whole night, he woke up four times. Despite the fact that his heart was knotted, he determined to get up early and prayed before the Lord for guidance, hoping that God would make a way for him. Finally, he decided to call her, “Hi, Mildred, can I talk to you before I go? I really want to see you, we need to straighten things out, see you at the same old place. Talk to you later.”
Moulin Rouge Restaurant was dim with flickering candle lights, and his heart was same as the background music – “Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I was falling apart…..total eclipse of the heart!” “Why do we need to talk? It would be easier if we just say good-bye and don’t see each other again.” Mildred sat down and said coolly. “Mildred, are you sure you don’t want to go to Northern Thailand with me? You know I love you very much and I was called by God as a missionary. I always want to outreach to the people in Thailand. Could you give up your career for me and God? Isn’t 5 years of our relationship not as valuable as a prestigious job? We have already engaged, how could you be so cold-blooded?” Gilbert was begging Mildred without any dignity.
“Gilbert, please don’t get me wrong, arts is invaluable, to be honest with you, I stay in Toronto not because of fame and fortune, but arts is my life and a talent from God, this is an impeccable opportunity that I could be hired as an artistic director of the PanAsia International Gallery, I would be able to learn lots of stuff from all the great artists, I will definitely not give up. If you love me, you should understand and feel for me.” Mildred spoke assertively.
Gilbert stared with tearful eyes when Mildred left the restaurant. Should I be submissive and obey God’s will to go to Thailand as a missionary, or should I stay and wait till Mildred change her mind? The two thoughts were battling inside his mind, the Holy Spirit said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sister, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Gilbert bowed down and prayed, “Lord, forgive my selfish desires, I am willing to carry my own cross and come after you, I will offer my life and my all on the altar, please use me for the rest of my life, Amen.”
After three years, in Fang, a small town in Chaing Rai Province in Northern Thailand, “Gilbert, I have brought a new coworker to see you, she is new to Thailand, please help her and take care of her.” A coworker from the mission organisation was walking into Gilbert’s office, introducing the new missionary behind him, “This is Mildred, she just arrived from Toronto.”
Gilbert just couldn’t believe his eyes, he ran toward her and said, “Is that really you, Mildred? Why are you here? What made you give up your career? Do you come to see me?….” Gilbert was asking a series of questions and Mildred smiled and replied, “It was the love of God that transformed my life. I was appreciating some artwork one day and came across a painting of Jesus Christ on the cross, I was stunned and touched by the artwork, it conveyed God’s sacrificial love and unconditional redemption, I just could not stop crying and my faith changed from self-centred to a God-centred one, finally I was willing to submit and commit myself to the Lord, willing to bear the cross and follow Him….”
Your Initial Response
Are you willing to bear your cross, be submissive and follow the Lord? Did you ever have an experience of “lost and found” because of submission and obedience to the Lord?
1Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.
2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
5He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,
7Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.
12“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time
16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,
17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,
18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
19Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.(Genesis 22:1–19 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Circle all the words that are related with place and time.
3 Circle all the promises of “the angel of the Lord” (Genesis 22:16-18) and number them in ascending order.
4 Circle all of the words containing “burnt offering” and underline “knife,” “wood’ and “fire.”
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
At the old age of one hundred years, Isaac the son that God promised Abraham was born (Genesis 21:5). However, God asked Abraham to kill his own son as a burnt offering now. Moreover, God clearly forbade people to pass their children through fire as an offering (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2); did God contradict Himself in words and deeds?
1 Why did God have to test Abraham (Genesis 22:1)?
2 Abraham had many sons, hadn’t he (Genesis 16:15; 25:2)? So why did God call Isaac the only son of Abraham (Genesis 22:2)?
3 What is a “burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2)?
4 Was it too cruel and bloody for God to demand Abraham to offer his son as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:2)?
5 Who was “the angel of the Lord” (Genesis 22:11)?
“After these things,” meaning that many years had already gone by, and the son of Abraham and Sarah had already become grown up; perhaps, he was at least over twenty years old. In this period of time, Abraham had various experiences in life, such as the blessings, promises and tests that came from God. In the Hebrew Bible, there was the definite article before God, that is, “the God.” This is a way of demonstrating that God is the one and only one, that is to say, He is the true God. God had already revealed to Abraham for the seventh time now, the purpose was to test His servant. “Test’ was not “try” and it was not “tempt” or “entice.” By means of a “test,” God wanted to see if Abraham trusted Him and He wanted to refine his character (Ex 16:4; Deut 8:2; Jud 2:22; II Chr 32:31; Ps 26:1-3). God revealed to Abraham many times thus he knew who was; therefore, when God called him now, he responded immediately.
Abraham had seven sons by his concubines (Genesis 16:15; 25:2), but Isaac was the only legitimate son in God’s eyes. Furthermore, God knew Abraham loved Isaac dearly. The literal meaning of a “burnt offering” is “make to ascend,” implying the offering ascends to God. One special thing is that, “burnt offerings” are wholly burnt on the altar as offerings. As to God’s command to Abraham, asking him to offer his only son as a “burnt offering” was not only illogical but also a command hard to obey.
According to the tradition, Moriah is associated with Jerusalem, that is, the site on which Solomon’s temple is built and also where Calvary stands.
Abraham obeyed God’s command immediately without taking counsel with flesh and blood. He not only prepared the donkey for the journey and the wood to offer his only son as the burnt offering, but also brought his two servants and Isaac along and went to the place of which God had told him in the morning. Calvin the theologian presumed God told Abraham about the place of offering by a vision in advance. After the three days’ journey, Abraham and his entourages came to the destination.
Before making the offering, Abraham brought his son to worship God. Although loving his son dearly, Abraham listened to God’s command with hesitation. Love and worship go together here (Genesis 22:2, 5); furthermore, worship and offering relate closely as well.
Abraham placed the wood upon Isaac’s shoulders, and he held the knife and the fire (perhaps, the flint), planning to offer his beloved son to God as the burnt offering anytime.
Genesis 22: 7-8
As Isaac saw almost everything was ready for the burnt offering except the lamb, so he asked his father for the sacrifice. Abraham did not tell his son the whole story; but, there were two things in his heart: first, God had a special plan for Isaac (cf. Genesis 17:19); second, God demanded him to offer his only son. Abraham had faith that God would be responsible for the whole event, namely: one, if God needed the lamb for the burnt offering, He would provide for it. Second, if Isaac was slain as the burnt offering, God would surely raise him from the dead (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19).
From every act and every move of Abraham, Isaac would have known that he was chosen as the burnt offering by his father. However, Isaac did not resist at all, indicating that he was an obedient child. When everything was prepared, Abraham took the knife and was about to end his son’s life.
The angel of the Lord called Himself God (cf. Genesis 22:12); however, He was distinct from God. In many Old Testament passages, the angel of the Lord was the preincarnate Jesus Christ, revealing Himself to humankind (cf. Gen. 18:1-2; 19:1; Num. 22:22; Jud. 2:1-4; 5:23; Zech. 12:8). In a moment of desperation, the angel of the Lord ordered Abraham not to harm his own son, and also stated that Abraham was a person who obeyed (honored God) and kept nothing from God.
After the angel of God finished talking, Abraham knew God wanted to preserve his son’s life. After that, he saw a ram was caught in a thicket by his horns and thus he offered it up as the burnt offering instead of his son. In the course of the whole event, Abraham deeply experienced that God was the Lord who would provide everything for His people, thus he named that place “The Lord will provide.”
The angel of God spoke to Abraham once again and promised to bless him and his descendants. First of all, the descendants of Abraham will be multiplied as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. Furthermore, they will conquer their enemies. Finally, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. The reason is simple – owing to obedience to God’s command, Abraham received the promises of God, having attained the above grace and blessings mentioned above.
Abraham had led a nomadic lifestyle earlier, but as he received God’s promises, he returned to Beersheba and continued to stay there for another period of time.
Definitely, God was not cruel and bloodthirsty that it was necessary for Him to demand His servant to offer his offspring to Him. By exercising the above test, we know everything belongs to God, as He has the right to ask us to ascribe the things that belong to Him. Furthermore, people of God should follow Him faithfully, obeying His commands completely.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 If God asked us to give the dearest person or thing in our life to Him, could we be as obedient as Abraham?
2 Memorise Hebrews 11:17-19.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
3 Christians must walk with faith in their daily living and we should not only discern God’s will with our reasoning.
4 Learn from Abraham’s faithfulness; be a servant who obeys divine truth and ministers wholeheartedly in the church.
5 Believers should imitate Isaac’s obedience to his father in attitude and acts that we obey the seniors with a humble heart.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.