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Lowell Brueckner

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Seeking the King of the Kingdom, chapter four



“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son: it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called’. He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.” Hebrews 11:17-19


The truth is that Abraham had been tested many times before. His faith was first tested, when God called him and he had to go, leaving everything behind without knowing where he was going. He was tested by a famine in the land of Canaan and had to go to Egypt. In Egypt he was proven, when Pharaoh wanted his wife and took her into his house. He was tested in the strife between his servants and those of his nephew, Lot. He was tested by the king of Sodom, who offered him great riches won in battle. He was tested, because he and his wife entered old age without a son to inherit his name. As in Egypt, he was tested again in Gerar, because of the beauty of his wife.

The life of faith is one filled with testing for anyone who enters into it. One test prepares you for the next and it seems that each new test is more difficult that the one before. We cannot avoid them. It is not because God desires to bring difficulties upon us, but because He has a very important reason for permitting and even commanding that they should enter our lives. He is polishing a jewel that has great value for Him. He is perfecting the virtue of highest price in His children and that virtue is faith.

We will go now to the book of Genesis to see how Abraham passed the greatest test of his life. It is probable that he would have failed the test, if he would have had to undergo what he did in chapter 22 at the beginning of his relationship with God. The other trials had been preparing him for this one that would be the most difficult of all. His confidence in God was based on past experiences, in which He proved His faithfulness. God had intervened in the dangers and temptations of his life and had given victory. God was his Friend and he knew that He would do him no real harm and that everything would end well. Faith had reached such a high level in him that he came to be called “the father of faith” (Rom. 4:11,16).

As he came into this test, God carefully presented to Abraham the person that he was going to use to try him. He did not simply say “take your son and go”. Abraham must know that in this testing, above all tests, God was going to touch the depth of his heart. When all was said and done, there would remain no corner in his being that had not felt the intensity of the refining fire. So He said to him, “Take now your son… your only son… whom you love… Isaac…” (Gen. 22:2). Abraham knew from the beginning that the price would be very high. It not only concerned the love that a father could have for his only son, but it included the very purpose, for which Abraham existed; the call and the promise of God for his life all had to do with Isaac: “He who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son: it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called’”. There was left no doubt as to the outcome of the matter; it would be death: “Go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

The infinite eye of God sees the future as clearly as the present. For this reason, He must be absolute Lord over all that is to take place. The man that recognizes this fact knows that it is not his part to plan the matter, but only obey what the Lord orders. God knows exactly the place, where the sacrifice must occur. He had chosen it before the foundation of the world. God spoke many generations after the life of Abraham, when the children of Israel entered Canaan, of one place alone, where they ought to offer sacrifices. However, He did not reveal to them this location, as they entered the land. Many years must go by before it would be discovered. It was the place where the plague was detained, after having killed thousands, due to King David’s stubborn mistake. David bought that land and his son, Solomon, built the temple there. From that day forward, it was illegal to sacrifice anywhere else. In the 20th century, the people returned to take the land and the orthodox Jew today longs to practice his ancient religion. However, it is complicated to renew the system of sacrifices, because over the land that God had indicated, as the only location for sacrifice, is the Moslem Mosque of the Rock.

How profound and wonderful was the relationship that Abraham enjoyed with God! They were friends and Abraham loved God more than his own son, in fact, more than his own life. The following verse confirms it. It might easily send a shiver through our being, when we contemplate it. Abraham was willing, not only to obey, but “he rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” Doing the will of God was a delight for him and he did not delay to carry it out. It would be too little to say that this is a good example for us. Far beyond that, it is a demonstration of a beautiful spirit that I find impossible to describe. The Lord desires to carry us all to this point - to a complete confidence and commitment towards a good God, who does not know what it means to be unfaithful.

I think also of Philip who, after having served tables in the church at Jerusalem, had the opportunity to be an evangelist and see the powerful hand of God work through his ministry. In Samaria, everyone was attentive to what he had to say. There were miracles of healing and many were delivered from evil spirits. Philip participated in the joy that the Samaritans experienced. However, while there, an angel directed him to a road that led only to a desert. Without an explanation as to the destination or reason behind the order, Philip had to leave the revival in Samaria. He simply got up and went, without questioning. He trusted entirely in the Lord and, as a result, the gospel entered the continent of Africa.

Although verse three is one of those in the Old Testament that most moves me, as I observe the disposition of Abraham, there is another that lies ahead and, if possible, it is still more thrilling. It opens to us more than ever the heart of Abraham and helps us to look inside. How did he see this commandment that God had given him? What would he call this act of offering his son in sacrifice? Verse five gives us the answer: “Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship...’”. To Abraham, it was an act of worship.

Many do not understand the difference between worship and praise. Praise is the fruit of our lips, but worship is not expressed with words. It is service to God that is deeper than any other and must take place in the heart. The woman in Luke 7, who brought a vial of alabaster and anointed Jesus, shedding tears of gratitude and love, was worshiping. She did not have to utter a word. The price of the perfume and the tears expressed everything that could be expressed. It was not done with restraint or difficulty. If she had had more, she would have given it also, because she had heart knowledge that nothing is sufficient for the One who is worthy of all. Even the disciples could not understand what this woman was experiencing in her deepest being.

Nehemiah 8:6 states, “All the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” The wise men told Herod that they came prepared to worship. They did not do it with words, but by giving their treasures: “And they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” In Revelation 5:8, “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.” Worship is better expressed prostrate at His feet. A. W. Tozer was the mentor of Leonard Ravenhill, who we knew as an elderly man. He frequently prayed with Tozer and one day he said to him, “Len, we will let others take whatever position that they will when they pray, but you and I will worship upon our faces.” Tozer spent many hours worshiping in that position, sometimes until past midnight.

Abraham went up the mountain of sacrifice to worship. Worship does not stop until it has offered God the best that one has. Nothing is too costly. Of all the things that Abraham possessed and could give, nothing was comparable to his son. He gave the best he had in worship. You can give all your possessions to feed the poor without love. You can surrender your body to be burned without love, but there is one thing that you cannot do without love, and that is to worship. Worship is an act of love to God. Worship gives all and when all is given, it wishes it could give more. We want to come to this level of relationship with Him.

All that has anything to do with God is motivated by love. Love is accompanied by faith or, as the Bible teaches, faith works through love. Now we will be able to see why the writer of Hebrews knew what Abraham was thinking at that moment. He tells us that Abraham thought that God could raise Isaac from the dead, if it were necessary. He continued to write that this is exactly what happened in a figurative sense. That means that in the heart of Abraham, Isaac was already dead. Without a doubt, he would accomplish what God had commanded him to do.

Nevertheless, Abraham said to his servants, “I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you” (Genesis)… “for he reasoned that God was able to raise him up even from among the dead” (Hebrews, Amp.Ver.). Abraham knew that God is always faithful to His promises. As a Spanish song puts it:

“Perhaps the sun will not appear tomorrow morning,
But I can trust that You will be there;
And the stars might be wiped from the firmament,
But You will continue faithful to Your word.”

By faith he knew that the two of them would return. It would be easier for the universe to cease existing and that God would fall defeated from His throne, before one of the words that has fallen from his lips should not be fulfilled or that the smallest part of his eternal purposes should be frustrated. Isaac must stand and live before God. He was the son of promise and the product of the supernatural work of God: “In Isaac shall your seed be called.” In such things there can be no failure.

Without faith, the Christian life is sad and hopeless. Everything seems to be too great a sacrifice, but with faith everything changes. The faith of Abraham is being put to the ultimate test and he says, “I will trust you, my God, even in this. We will be back!”

When the two walked alone up the mountain, Isaac raised a question. It is more profound than he realized at the time and men of faith, who offered animals in sacrifice, have considered it since man was first cast out of the Garden of Eden. Abel, as the Bible teaches us, was the first one to offer a lamb, but he had faith in a provision that was more perfect than one of the firstborn of his sheep could offer; it was one that only God could provide. After the animal was slain and his blood was shed, there still remained a consciousness of sin and the conviction that this animal’s blood was not enough to take it away. All the men and women of faith knew that a much more efficacious sacrifice was needed to remove sin. Isaac asks, “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Where is the Lamb? That is the question of the ages. Where is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”? (Rev. 13:8 KJV). Lambs without number have been offered in sacrifice, but they were only symbols and pointed towards an eternal Lamb of God. How and when would this One come directly from the presence of God as the only and sufficient sacrifice that could, once and for all, wipe away sin? As deep as was the question, so was the answer that came from Abraham’s lips, “God will provide for Himself the lamb… my son.”

After thousands of years and millions of sacrificed lambs, the time came for faith to become reality in human history. At the moment of its completion, a prophet dressed in camel skin stood at the shores of the Jordan River and made the declaration of the ages. John the Baptist pointed his finger towards an approaching figure and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). Behold the answer, provided by God, to the question of the ages! One day, the redeemed of all ages will gather in one voice to proclaim, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!” (Rev. 5:12). Where is the Lamb? Behold the Lamb! and Worthy is the Lamb that was slain! These are the three most significant sentences ever pronounced in men’s ears.

On Moriah, a simple altar of stone was erected. Upon it, Abraham and Isaac placed the wood and made it ready for the flame. Isaac was not a small child, but a young man able to resist. However, when he realized the significance of what was taking place, he allowed himself to be tied. He was in agreement and recognized the worthiness of the sentence and the justice of the deed about to be carried out. He understood the holiness of God and the need to satisfy his perfect righteousness.

The natural mind can never understand the cross of Jesus. It is repulsed by it, just as it is repulsed by this story. How can God expect a man to sacrifice his son? Man cannot understand it, nor can he understand the immensity of the offense of sin before a holy God. He cannot comprehend that hell is a just punishment for sin and that God is not asking too much in the sentence, “The soul that sins, it shall die.” Isaac is a sinner and it is right that he should pay what he owes.

Although God had given the promise, “in Isaac shall your seed be called”, and that promise had to do with His eternal plan for a future Messiah, Isaac still was a sinner. Sin stood in the way, obstructing the purpose of God. How could this great problem be solved? Isaac must be offered in sacrifice; he must pay for his sins.

So it followed that Abraham, with a broken heart, raised the knife to decapitate his son and in a split second, as the sentence was about to be carried out, “the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him” (vs.11-12). Who dared to contradict the commandment of God, intervening and interrupting an act of divine justice? Who was this Angel of the LORD? Actually, these words would bring severe consequences to the One, who had pronounced them. He was and is the mediator between God and man, therefore the only one who could interfere. He is the One who made intercession for transgressors (Is. 53:12). He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it will be provided” (vs.14). Abraham and Isaac saw the Provider and could never be the same. I believe that Jesus was referring to this incident, when He said to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (Jn. 8:56). Can you imagine the joy that was expressed upon Mount Moriah that day?


Now, I want us to see this same personality in the New Testament. We go to John 8:3-5 to see Jesus in the temple after having passed the night on the Mount of Olives. It is probable that He foreknew that he would have to tend this case, which now was brought before Him: “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?’”

These men were full of evil intentions and the only thing that they wanted to do was find a way to accuse Jesus, either before the Romans or before the public. The Romans ruled over the Jewish people and did not permit them to execute anyone without first consulting them. If Jesus would say, “Yes, let justice be done in agreement with God’s command”, then they would accuse him before the governor for an attempt to pronounce sentence, without the required permission of Roman law. If He answered “no”, then the people, especially with the nationalistic mentality of the day, would despise Him for bending to Roman law, instead of honoring the law of God. Also, coming into play here is the great compassion of Jesus and his purpose of being in the world to save and not to condemn.

However, this woman was not condemned only by the scribes and Pharisees. They were right in that the Law of God demanded death for adulterers. Adultery is a crime against the Kingdom of God. From the foundation of the world, God created man and woman with a purpose of forming a life-long union. According to Him, they are one flesh and are inseparable. The punishment decreed, for breaking this unity or corrupting it in any way, was death. It follows that the man or woman, who commits adultery, is rebelling against the purpose, which God established when the world was formed. In the Law given by Moses, concerning the physical nation of Israel, very clearly, it stated that the people must stone adulterers to death. But in the eternal Kingdom of God, the punishment was and still is eternal condemnation. This woman, since she was caught in the act, is guilty and there can be no doubt that she should die.

In other words, she must be sacrificed for her own sin. Can you imagine the shame, the fear and the hopelessness that she was feeling before the public at that moment? We will lay aside some of the details that occurred to arrive at the principal point. Jesus answered in a way that disqualified, one by one, all those that could have taken part in the execution, so that He alone was left with her. He would try the case by Himself. No one else’s opinion, the help or the accusation of men, mattered anymore. The Son of God was going to take charge of this situation directly.

He could and should condemn her. Perfect justice demanded it. God can never let one small misdeed go unpunished, since the day that Adam and Eve had sinned, to this day. Because the Kingdom of God is eternal, in this case, if the justice of God would not be applied and failed this one time, eternity would be spotted by sin. Even one sin that escapes its deserved sentence is enough to do the damage. Jesus Himself said that the Father had placed all judgment in the hands of His Son, so therefore, how he handles this matter is of supreme importance.

Just as Abraham was compelled to do, so Jesus must carry out justice; that is, He must insure the sacrifice for sin. But, what does He say? “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more” (vs.11). There is only one way to explain this apparent breakdown of justice. The sin must be condemned and the sentence applied. In order for Christ to pardon this sinner, He then must pay with his own life, and, at the same time, He must deal with the punishment, from which Isaac escaped. Jesus stooped to allow that her sins should fall upon Him and He stood to pronounce her pardon. If He detained the hand that was to sacrifice Isaac and if He decided not to bring judgment upon the woman, then He would have to take their place. He was very disposed to do that; in fact, it was for that reason that He came to earth.


On Mont Moriah, the Angel of the Lord stopped the hand of justice, making Himself the substitute to take the sin of Isaac, and in the temple, Jesus pardoned the adulteress, taking her guilt upon Himself and, as a consequence, her death sentence. If you today recognize that the sentence against you is just, that you have offended your Creator and rebelled against His eternal laws, destroying what He has created and perverting holy purposes - if you recognize that you are a guilty criminal and worthy of the worst that justice can demand from you… How will Jesus try your case?

“In the mount of the LORD it will be provided” (Gen. 22:14), an old Hebraic proverb stated and, on Mount Calvary, God provided it. Two thousand years ago, Jesus confronted eternal judgment and was the representative for your case before the court of the supreme Judge of the universe. He received your sentence of condemnation and He paid it Himself. “Do yourself no harm,” he says, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” God has provided pardon and salvation. He also has provided the power to overcome sin and live a different life, because of a new nature, which is acquired through a new birth.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and (yes) forever. He is in charge of your legal business and has never given His back to a repentant sinner. His intentions have been proven over the centuries and now in this 21st Century, we can receive and enjoy a word of peace from Him: “‘I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). He has provided a secure and perfect salvation.

“I was guilty with nothing to say,
And they were coming to take me away;
Then, a voice from heaven was heard and it said,
‘Let him go and take me instead!’
I should have been crucified,
I should have suffered and died;
I should have hung on the cross in disgrace,
But Jesus, God’s Son, took my place.”


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