Messages from Pastor Raddatz
December 13, 2020 Text: Genesis 22:1–18 (Ram), Mount Olive Lutheran, Houston TX, MIDWEEK OF ADVENT 2 - JESSE TREE
Jesus, the Root of Jesse’s Tree
Genesis 22:1-18 ESV, 1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Many people today are fascinated by genealogies. There are a number of DNA testing companies, and they can tell you where your ancestors came from. Through other links in online data sites, you can even learn the names of the recent and distant men and women who form your family tree. You and I are all linked to an ancestral tree, and we pass on our ancestral DNA to the next generations.
The story told by the Jesse Tree began in a garden, and today, it leads us to a descendant of Adam and Eve, an elderly man by the name of Abraham. He was not the promised Seed of the woman. But he was chosen by God to be the link between Eden and Bethlehem. Abram, as he was once known, was not a special person worthy of this blessing. He, like all of us, was chosen simply by the grace of God.
Today we consider a story familiar to most of us—a story told by the ram on the Jesse Tree. How Abraham, the bearer of the promise of the Seed of the woman, was prepared to obediently do the impossible: destroy Isaac, the son of promise and the next generation of the bearer of the promise of the Seed. But Abraham knew something that changed everything: he knew that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Jesse’s tree would grow because it’s very root is not Adam, Eve, Abraham, or Isaac, but rather, it is Jesus.
- The hope-inspiring Seed through Isaac, the seed of Abraham
- A son and a promise are given.
Modern genetics can tell you a lot about who your ancestors were. A few years ago, the remains of a fifteenth-century English king, Richard III, were discovered under a parking lot. How did archaeologists confirm the identity of the bones? By comparing the DNA in the bones to the DNA of a known twenty-first-century descendant of Richard III’s brother! Hidden to the eye is the link that extends from generation to generation. But it is there.
In the Garden of Eden as man and woman fell into sin, their Creator had immediately promised that One who was the “Seed” of the woman would defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Through the generations, God had preserved the human race, and the world was populated. Generations later, a man by the name of Abram was called by God from the idolatry of humanity to a relationship with Him. And then God made a promise—to Abram, now to be called Abraham, and to his wife, Sarah, would be born a son.
- All things are possible with God.
The challenging part of God’s promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah was that they were long past the age for bearing children. Though married for years, Sarah had never conceived a child. The very idea of having a son at their age would be . . . well, impossible. Yes, impossible—except for one thing. It was not man but God who made the promise, and with Him, nothing is impossible.
- This promised son was to be named Isaac. But more important than his name was his role in God’s redemption of all humanity. Isaac was to be the bearer of a seed and the father of nations (Genesis 17:19).
- From Isaac would come Jacob.
- From Jacob would come Judah.
- From Judah would come Jesse.
- From Jesse would come David.
- And from David would come Mary.
And, miracle of miracles, from Mary, the virgin mother, would come the Christ, the Seed promised to our first parents at the fall. Impossible? Not with God.
Application: All of us face challenges. Your testing will come. God is serious about your relationship with Him. What things? Things that are common to men and women of all times and cultures.
- Relocation: from Ur of Chaldees to Haran and finally to the area near Hebron. At different times Abram lived in Shechem, Bethel, Hebron and Beer-Sheba.
- Sorrow: his father Terah died in Haran.
- Economic collapse: famine drove him to Egypt for survival.
- Deception and failure: he lied about Sarai being his wife.
- Success: he become wealthy and powerful near Bethel.
- Family arguments/disagreements: separated from Lot. Lot, in Sodom, captured by Elamites. Abram goes to rescue. "Blood is thicker than water!" There is magnetic appeal of family!
- The dark despair when all seems lost
- We cannot see the future.
It is hard to imagine what Abraham must have felt as he heard the promise of the Lord, who gave him Isaac. Oh, the joy he and Sarah must have experienced when their son, Isaac, was born! Surely, like any parents, they invested much of themselves in this son of promise as he grew from infancy to childhood. This promised son must have been the center of their world.
What must have gone through Abraham’s mind and heart as he later heard the same Lord say, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2)? In an amazing act of obedience, Abraham prepared to fulfill this demand. He prepared the wood, the fire, and the knife. And there was his son, Isaac, the son of promise, bound on the altar and wood. In Abraham’s hand was the knife as he prepared to kill his son. THIS SACRIFICE WAS NOT SOMETHING GOD NEEDED, BUT HE WANTED TO TEST ABRAHAM TO SEE IF GOD WAS MOST IMPORTANT TO HIM.
- We can trust the One who holds the future.
Until God said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12). Imagine that scene! The future, embodied in Isaac, was on an altar about to be sacrificed. The future now appeared dark and horrifying. Except for one thing. Abraham, as the writer to the Hebrews would express it, “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham could not see the future, but he trusted the Lord, who held the future, and knew that with God, all things were possible.
III. The joy of hope restored
- Isaac lived, and Abraham rejoiced.
God’s promises can never fail. Abraham knew that. So do we. Just look at what happens through this son of promise, Isaac. He lives, and though he fails and fails over and over, he still fulfills God’s purpose. The generations of Isaac’s descendants continue through the centuries. The promised Seed remains in the line God had chosen to bear a Savior, not just for that family, but for all the children of Adam. Abraham rejoiced when his son was born. He rejoiced when his son was spared. And he rejoiced at the promise of a Son yet to come.
- Jesus is the Seed, the Root, the Lamb.
And we rejoice also in the promised Seed, who, as the angel would declare, we call by the name Jesus. He is the Seed promised. He is the Root from which Jesse’s tree grows. He is the reconciler of the past, the redeemer of the present, the hope of the future.
In Isaac was a Seed, and we know that Seed in human form in the virgin-born Son of God. There is the very Lamb of God. When Isaac was spared from Abraham’s knife, the Lord provided a sacrifice in Isaac’s place—a ram caught in a thicket. So He provides a substitute for you and for me and for all humanity—Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. One sacrifice for all time and all people. One death in place of our deaths. One tomb in place of our tombs. And one resurrection by which we, too, shall be raised on the Last Day. One Baptism that we share. One Supper where He brings life, forgiveness, and peace. Hope, joy, and certainty—it is all in Jesus.
Illustration: Karen Watson, killed in Iraq, wrote a letter to pastor to be opened at her death:
"You should only be opening this letter in the event of my death. When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the Nations. I wasn't called to a place. I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected. His glory was my reward. His glory is my reward.
"Care more than some think is wise. Risk more than some think is safe. Dream more than some think is practical. Expect more than some think is possible. I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience."
And that is His call to us all! (From a Sermon by James T. Draper, Jr.)
God continues to provide in your journey with him. Some of God’s many promises are:
- He guides you: Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
- He will go before you: Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
- He will give you peace: Isaiah 26: 3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
- He will strengthen you: Isaiah 41: 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- You are forgiven: 1 Peter 2: 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
God will bless your journey with him, Pastor John Raddatz
(Adapted from the Jesse Tree Advent Series, week 2)
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