The Akedah Mystery

“Akedah Mystery”
Genesis 22: 1 – 2
Ken Hurley
September 16, 2018

Good morning my friends. It’s great to be here with all of you this morning. Allow me to open my comments, with a prayer. Let us pray.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts together, be acceptable to you O Lord, our Rock, and our Redeemer. Amen

Not to take away from the message today but allow me to say a couple of things about myself, and my faith in God. I have been a member of this church for the past 43+ years. My wife of 41 years was Janie Hurley, a super and lovely lady. Some of you knew her. Janie and I both loved three things in life: God, Our Family; and this church, and all of its members both past and present. Janie and I raised our two daughters, Kelly and Debbie, in this church. Debbie was the first baby born into this congregation, on September 29, 1975, just three months after the church was formed.

I do have a strong belief in God and it has carried me through some difficult times. One of those being the death and cancer journey that Janie and I went through. This journey lasted over two years: It included a diagnosis, major surgery, twenty chemotherapy sessions, and a four-month Hospice. Janie and I both put our faith and trust in God. But her recovery was not to be. Janie often said, her impending death was part of her journey with Jesus.

I was raised in a strict military family, my dad, Larry Hurley was a commander in the United States Navy. We moved around a lot because of it. Both of my parents had strong Christian backgrounds. They both grew up on family farms in North Dakota.

As I got older; each morning, all six family members were required to be front in center, at the breakfast table at 7:00 am. After eating, my dad read from the Bible and closed with a morning prayer. So reading the Bible was not new to me. My family and I went to church every Sunday. I still remember those scratchy wool suits I had to wear.

When I spoke to Jill about being part of a service and preaching a sermon, she immediately asked, “What are you going to preach about?” I said, the Akedah story from Genesis. Jill asked how in the world did you pick that as a topic? With all the things you could talk about. Allow me to explain. I have become friends with Stella and Doc Abersold, two amazing and delightful people. Doc is a retired pastor where he led 10 different churches. He has authored 23 books and he writes articles for several newspapers in the Inland Empire each week with Stella’s help. All of this is accomplished at 90 years of age. What an amazing couple.

Doc has stated to me several times, “You should preach a sermon.” He recently gave me a book entitled, The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn. Doc called me one day and told me to look at page 79 my friend. This was the story about Abraham and Isaac. This story peaked my interest, so here I am.

The Akedah story is shared during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. They just celebrated this holiday on September 9 through September 11. Their New Year includes: meals, prayer services, bible readings and blowing the rams horn. On the first day, the church reads about the birth of Isaac. On the second day they read about Abraham’s near death sacrifice of his son Isaac.

The word Akedah is a Hebrew word which means to bind up or tie up. The Akedah story is the offering up of Isaac by his father Abraham. This is a covenant story. This was a test between God and Abraham. Each party had to be willing to do some things the other party was willing to do.

Abraham was willing to offer his son as a burnt offering. We must remember that Isaac was his miracle boy, born to Abraham at 100 years of age and Sarah at 90 years old. Way past the child bearing age for a woman.

Let’s look at this mystery from Genesis, Chapter 22. I say that because there are some mysteries woven into this bible story. I will try to cover some of them this morning. Abraham saddled his donkey. He took two servants and his one and only son Isaac with him. After Abraham had cut enough wood for the burnt offering. Abraham set out for a place God had told him about. (Here lies the first mystery.) Abraham did not know exactly where this journey was taking him.

On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the location off in the distance. He told his servants, “stay here with the donkey while my son and I go up there.” Abraham was pointing to the top of the mountain.

Abraham told his servants, “We will worship, and then we will return back to you. (Another mystery.) Did God tell Abraham about the impending Gospel story? And, if God did, did Abraham understand it?

If Abraham was going to offer his son as a burnt offering, only Abraham would return back to the servants.

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son’s shoulder. Isaac was 37 years old at this time. Abraham carried the fire and the knife and the two of them went up the mountain. (The Bible says Abraham carried the fire; this could have been a red hot coal wrapped in bark, or a chunk of flint.)

As the father and son traveled up the mountain that day, Isaac spoke up and said, “The fire, the wood, and the knife are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? (Another mystery.) Abraham answered, “God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son.” When they reached the place that God had told him about, Abraham built an alter out of rock and stone. He then arranged the wood on top of the alter. He then bound up his son Isaac and laid him on top of the wood.

Abraham took his knife and was ready to slaughter his son. But the Angel of the Lord called out. “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay your hand on your son and do not harm him.” The Angel said, “I know you fear God because you have not withheld your one and only son from me.” Abraham then looked around and saw a ram caught by his horns in a thicket or bush close by. Abraham untied his son Isaac and sacrificed the ram as a burnt offering instead of his son. I mentioned earlier during Rosh Hashanah, the rams horn is blown many times in memory of this story. Abraham called this place Moriah, which means “I will provide for”.

The Angel of the Lord called out again to Abraham and said, because of what you have done and not withheld your son from me. I will bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and the sand that covers the seashore. Because e of Abrahams faithfulness, this covenant was made with God.

We might ask ourselves (another mystery), why did God ask Abraham to perform this terrible sacrifice? One of God’s Ten Commandments passed down to Moses from God, during the Exodus states, “Thou shall not kill.”

Some scholars say God did not want Isaac to die. God wanted Abraham to sacrifice Isaac only in his heart to prove that Abraham loved God more than his son.

(Another mystery arises.) Some Jewish Scholars believe the death and resurrection of Isaac did take place that day. They say as soon as Abraham’s knife touched Isaac’s neck, his soul departed his body, and he died there on the alter. When the Angel of the Lord called out, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not harm your Son.” Isaac’s soul returned back to him. The scholars feel this, death became an early symbol of Jesus Christ’s death and, resurrection.

How does this story from Genesis compare to the story of Jesus and his Father and his final days. Allow me to share some similarities. They mirror the Genesis story.

Abraham was willing to offer his son Isaac as burnt offering to God. God was willing to offer his one and only son Jesus as a sacrifice to the world.

Both Isaac and Jesus were a model of faith and obedience, to their fathers. Both were promised sons conceived by mothers who were not supposed to conceive and give birth to a child.

Abraham brought his son Isaac on a donkey to Moriah. God sent his son on a donkey to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to begin the eight days that would change the world forever.

Abraham placed the wood for the sacrifice on his son’s shoulder. The soldiers who took charge of Jesus, after his trial in Jerusalem; placed the heavy wooden cross on Jesus’ shoulder.

Isaac carries the wood up the mountain to the place called Moriah. Jesus carries the heavy wooden cross to the place called Golgotha. Both of these locations are in Jerusalem. Abraham lays his son Isaac upon the alter and wood; and binds him to it. Jesus is laid on the wooden cross and is nailed to it by the Roman Soldiers. Abraham lifts his knife to slaughter his son but he is stopped by an Angel of the Lord. The death of Jesus is not stopped because of God’s love for the world. And the covenant that was made back in the old testament. I will bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand that covers the sea shore. God already knew that on the third day, Jesus would be resurrected.

All me to cover a few observations about Jesus and His Father.

1. Jesus was born in a small town called Bethlehem, in a stable, to an unmarried woman named Mary. Jesus grew up in another small town called Nazareth, south of the sea of Galilee. Until he reached the age of thirty, Jesus worked as a carpenter. For the next three years, he was a traveling minister. Through Devine purpose, he was brought into this world; to put himself in our place; and to take upon himself our burdens; our judgment; and our death. To save us and give us eternal life. Jesus’ death on the cross was one of the most painful deaths known to man. And, he accepted it. Jesus’ death is the greatest possible act of love. There is no greater love. Nothing can change this love. No good works can increase it. No sin can lessen it. We can not change this love. We can only receive it and be changed by it.
2. Because of Jesus’ death, he was leaving his mother Mary. He was only 33 years old when he died. Jesus wanted his mother to be taken care of. During his hours of pain and suffering on the cross, Jesus saw his Mother at the base of the cross; along with the disciple he loved. Jesus called out to his mother, “Dear Woman, here is your Son.” And, to the disciple: “Here is your Mother.” From that day on, John took Mary into his home, she would be taken care of. This was a blessing to Jesus that day.
3. Jesus was sinless and perfect. The most worthy person for life! Jesus was the most kind, caring, loving, wise and courageous man who ever lived. He committed no sins. Even his enemies knew they could find no fault in him. The Pharisees and Pilate felt this way. Pilate said, “I find no fault in this man, Jesus.” Jesus’ life was perfectly balanced: Joy and sorry. Tenderness and toughness. Justice and mercy. Grief and anger. Speech and silence. Prayer and action. The most worthy of living. The least worthy of dying.
4. Jesus was who he claimed bo be. The son of God and the Messiah. Jesus said, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. THE ONE WHO BELIEVES IN ME WILL LIVE; EVEN THOUGH THEY DIE.” In that statement, Jesus claimed to be the source of both. Jesus not only gives life, He is life.
5. Jesus was Supremely loved by his Father in Heaven. Jesus died for his Father. God said, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Much of my message today deals with the death of Jesus Christ. One of the biggest questions about Jesus’ death is “Why?”

Theologians have been exploring the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross for hundreds of years. After a discussion with Pastor Jill, I understand there are many here that believe Jesus did not have to die. Or do not accept the belief that Jesus’ death was even necessary. Many of you feel, Jesus was killed by man and not by God. And, lastly, Jesus’ death was not a sacrifice.

So, I do acknowledge your beliefs and feelings, and I hope my message is not too offensive to you. My comments have been centered around the fact that Jesus died in our place, it all comes from the Bible. Allow me to share some of my feelings and observations that support my message today. I feel and believe, we must not call God into question. God’s ways are not our ways.

In the old Testament, God sent Prophets like Isaiah to warn the world about sin. Isaiah was also foretelling men and women about the Messiah, his death, and his resurrection. Jesus offered himself and died, as a Lamb of God, the Atonement for all mankind. Atonement is the reconciliation of God and man, through Jesus Christ.

In Matthew, Chapter 26, after the last supper with his disciples, Jesus went into the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me? Yet, not as I will, but as your will.” The fact that Jesus was sorrowful and troubled, and said that his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death shows his death was a sacrifice.

Jesus died as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews; Paul stated without shedding the blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Jesus was the son of God and he gave his life’s blood for the remission, the forgiveness, the pardon, the penalty, and the removal of all mankind sins. This is important to me because, I believe there is a heaven and I believe I will go thee one day. One of my favorite passages about heaven come from the Gospel of John, Chapter 14. Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. For in my Father’s house there are more than enough rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. So, when everything is ready, I will come and get you so you will be with me always.”

What did Jesus’ death involve? God had to plan for Jesus’ death. Jesus left the glory of heaven and took on a human form through his birth to his mother, Mary. He lived on earth just like you and I. He performed many miracles as he preached to the crowds that followed him around the country side.

Jesus chose and loved his twelve disciples dearly. There were also many other followers who traveled and assisted Jesus with his preaching, healing and his acts of love. These believers were also loved and cherished by Jesus.

This message today is centered around LOVE. Yes, LOVE. The Love between a Father and a Son. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his son into the world to save the world, not to condemn it.

We see examples of Jesus’ saving grace throughout the four Gospels. Wherever there was misery there was Jesus. Preaching, healing, loving and saving both men and women. It did not matter whether you were Jew or Gentile. Rich or poor. Jesus reached out and saved all. During Jesus’ ministry he performed 37 miracles. Let me share one with you today. This miracle comes from the Gospel of Mark.

As Jesus and his disciples left Jericho one day there on the side of the road was a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was approaching, he began to shout out! “Jesus! Jesus! Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many people told Bartimaeus to be quiet. But, those comments made Bartimaeus shout even more. “Son of David, Son of David, have mercy upon me!” Jesus stopped and called him over. Bartimaeus came to Jesus. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see!” “Go!” said Jesus. “Your faith has healed you!” Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight and began to follow Jesus.

Yes, Jesus was Love, and he saved and healed all man kind.

So, you don’t ever have to wonder how much God loves you. The sign is already there on the cross. We get saved through Jesus’ death and his resurrection. There is no greater love! Our mission, my friends is to live our lives; as a sacrifice of love to him. Live that love. Live the love. God wants full custody every single day, not just on Sunday’s.

Come to Jesus and make heaven your home. Amen