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I have to go on to the seventh verse : “Isaac spake unto Abraham, 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? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burntoffering: so they went both of them together."
After all, Isaac was not sacrificed. Although there was that altar, well-built and all ready, the victim was not. Isaac; the victim was provided elsewhere. As one has said, “ After all, all that we can do is to build altars and arrange them.
God Himself provides the Lamb for a burnt-offering.” “The world,” as another has said, “yea, the Church, Christ's rejecting people, provided the altar. They provided the cross, they provided the nails, and God provided the Lamb, and put the Lamb into their hands."
Did Isaac fight and struggle with him? There is no hint of it in the narrative. Isaac was young, Abraham old. Very likely, if it had been a question of physical strength, Isaac could easily have broken away. He had at least equal power with his father. There is no resistance, Isaac meekly allows himself to be laid upon the altar, and asks him this question, showing that at any rate, whatever he was thinking, there was no resistance, there was no misunderstanding. So with God the Father; so with God the Son. Surely these are the things that the angels desire to look into. Surely it will be part of the unending delight, the unending mental and spiritual expansion that are before us to eternally gaze and gaze again into this unfathomable mystery of the Father entering into covenant with the Son for the redemption of poor sinners and the entire harmony and agreement between them.
And Abrabam stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the Angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham : and he said, Here am I. And He said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.” The world surely never saw such a sight until it saw Calvary ; when Abraham laid Isaac unyielding on the altar, and bound him, unstruggling, as he would have bound a lamb. And how they bade each other good-bye, God only knows, but it was done. O men and women with sons and daughters, just think of it! He laid him on, and took his hand, and bade him good-bye, and I am sure he kissed him. He encouraged him, and Isaac encouraged his father back again. And all that, had it not a reference to the cross, to that dateless day in eternity when God the Father and God the Son looked at each other, and each interpreted the other's thought and wish; and Jesus said, “I will go "; and the Father said, “I will give You up"? From all eternity They perfectly agreed, and in the fulness of time He came. Only just when He got into Gethsemane, He spoke back again to His Eternal Father, and said, “If it be possibleI do not repent what I said in eternity; but now that I have come into human flesh, and the cross is there, and I know in actual experience what it is—if it be possible "; and the Father stood over Him, and never loved Him more than when He withdrew His face from Him and let Him die. That swallows up all offering, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lamb of Sacrifice, with head, and heart, and soul; to stand before God's Christ on the cross, and say, “Lord, I believe,” is to have performed the great act of self-immolation, to have renounced yourself and entered into the peace and bliss of faithful Abraham. Now, are we outside, or in it? This on Abraham's part was faith, to obey God's word up to the very hilt, to the last iota and syllable to believe in God, and this was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.
We have cheapened the word “believe”; we have taken the music out of it, and made a poor cheap penny whistle out of the anthems of eternal glory.
Come back again to Abraham. Come and look at this thing on the human plane, and remember that word, “ For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me"; and let me ask this question-has God got the same proof from us yet that we are His? He did not give Abraham this certificate until he had done this thing. “Now, I know that thou fearest Me, seeing that thou hast not withheld thine only son from Me.” My friend, if we are to be God's, and to get into God's favour and fellowship, and to get all the blessing and strength that comes out of it, let there be an offering up to God. The Lord meets us, and He does not ask from us what He asks from Abraham, but He does ask the same disposition of soul. Now, whatever it is that we love and cling to, come now, and you will encourage me, and I will encourage you. Dig it up out of your heart, though it is like tearing yourself to pieces, and offer it up to God as you are and where you sit. Come, come, fathers and mothers; offer up your children. Quit your own ambitions, your own purposes, your own plans. Take your children where you are, each one of them, and offer them up. “Not mine, O God : Thine, Thine, Thine!" Take your business, take your wealth, take whatever is nearest to, and curled and nestled most closely in, your heart. It may be something bad. Take that list that you love, that you have never given up yet. Offer it up. If you
would get this verdict from God—“Now I know”. then this is to be done. What is it? I once put a man in a great crisis, and, maybe, I will do it to somebody again : for, in God's name, it has got to be done. There was a man sitting before me, and I was preaching like this, and he was a good man, what you would call a God-fearing man. He went regularly to church; he worshipped God as we do. When the Gospel was being preached just by these same unworthy lips, I have seen his eyes filling every time I just caught him by the heart, and I could squeeze his heart up.''
out at his eyes as you can water out of a sponge.
He was an emotional man. He loved to hear the Gospel. But, cutting a long story short, he was a licensed grocer. Do you ree where the Isaac is coming in ? Do you see it? Well, if ever I preached personally, I preached personally that time. I could not help it. At any rate, I spoke in God's name, not to him—with as much generality as kept it off him--and I saw his eyes kindling, and I made that an illustration. I said, “ It may be something in your business, and it is not a little thing. It is the thing that is making your money. It is bringing all to you that money brings, and I am not despising that. To give it up will be a trial, a sore trial. I am not here to denounce you. I am not here to say, Surrender !' to put a pistol at your head and say,
Stand and deliver!' No, but in deep sympathy I say, as if God Himself had said it, ' Take now thy licence and offer it
That man came to me, and he gripped my hand, and he wrung it till the moisture came to my eyes, for it was sore, and he had not a soft hand. He wrung it, and he wrung it again, and he said, “I never understood that Abraham story until to-night. I never understood it till to-night”; and he came nearer to me, and he whispered in my ear, “I never understood Gethsemane till to - night." I have to give it up — yes, though it should
matter what it should mean—though from an earthly point of view it may mean distress, though it is like cutting my own throat, nearly.” Yes, what did giving up Isaac mean to Abraham ? A desolate house, a desolate home, a place not to be endured ever again, for Isaac was out of it. That was what God said to him, and the grand old man would have done it—he would; for he so got to see that if a man loves God, and if a man yields up all his will, and his purpose, and his plan to God, he has not lost anything. He has gotten everything. Having God, he has everything. “All things are yours," as Paul said afterwards, “whether Paul, or
Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come. All are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." That man gave up. That man shut the door on the drink traffic so far as he was concerned. It was a great sacrifice to him.
Now, my friend, this giving up has got to be done. I cannot let you go until I string you up to this point. Here is the wood. There is the altar before and behind and round about, and there is the God of our salvation, and He points us to the cross, and He says, “ See what I gave up. See what My Son gave up." Now, we come to your altar. Lay down on that altar everything legitimate, everything illegitimate. Lay down on that altar your darling lusts. Down with them. Lay them down. Every appetite that is in you, clean or unclean, lay it down there. Lay down everything that you are, everything that you have, and only take back what God gives you back.
While I stand, although the hour has gone, I remember another story. Shall I tell it? It is the story of a decent man, a Christian man, a Christian worker, but he had a “but”; he had a drawback—there was a secret black spot in his life. It was not that he was either a drink-seller or a drink-taker. He neither made it, nor sold it, nor bought it. He was a teetotaler; and I want to say this in order to show how little teetotalism can do in this direction. He was unclean.
His darling was unholy passion, and he knew it. He was, as we all are, two men in one; Abraham was up to this time; and that other, that unyielded part of him, hankered and went alter this. Many times he had had a struggle, but of late he had ceased struggling. He had said, “ Well, well, this is too strong. God made me this way. God gave me these passions," as Abraham might have said, “ God gave we Isaac, marvellously gave me Isaac. It is impossible that He can be asking hiin back again "_" God gave me these passions.” But the Spirit of God brought home tue Word with