Monday, March 25, 2013

Moriah Final: The Sermon


Final Chapter – The Message that wasn’t preached

Prior to stuffing that sermon in my pocket and a couple weeks before, I remember praying, “Lord, what do you want me to preach?”  I opened my Bible to find ideas I had underlined from my past reading of the Scriptures.  Nothing really came to me. 

I figured it would likely be the last time I preached to the Youth Group, seeing how I was headed for college in the fall.  I thought back to the first year I was involved with the group.  I thought about that scene in the play with Eric.  I turned to Genesis Chapter 22 and started reading. 

I read, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.  And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”  I stopped there.

Abraham’s relationship with God always amazed me.  I thought it interesting God wanted to tell him something.  I’ve often wondered how Abraham heard God’s voice.  Was it audible? 

“…which I will tell thee of…”  Hmm, did that mean God was going to tell him which mountain?  Or, did that mean God was going to tell him about a specific mountain. 

I figured it meant God had a place in mind, and He was going to tell Abraham where that place was, and why it was special. 

That led me to another question.  Why would a place be special to God? 

It says in Dueteronomy 11:12 Israel is special to God, “A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”  The region of Moriah is in the land of Israel.  It was in the land of Israel that Jacob saw the ladder going up to Heaven with angels going up and down.  So we know the land of Israel is special in the eyes of God. 

Why?

What would make a place special?  In religion class they taught us the land of Israel was important because of trade routes.  It connected the Far East, Africa, and Europe.  We were taught it was the center of the ancient world because of trade.

Is that what made it special to God?  I find it hard to believe God would be interested in trade routes.  I think it would be more of an eternal interest if it were God’s interest.   

Some traditions place the location of Adam’s transgression on the same hill on which Christ died.  I like that association.  Although the location of the Garden of Eden is described in Genesis Chapter 2, it would be difficult to prove with any satisfaction where the Garden was.  There is not evidence.  Also, according to the Bible the map has changed since Adam walked on the Earth.

The reason I like the placement of Adam’s transgression as the same location Christ died is because it make so much sense.  Man’s fall and God’s redemption, occurring in the same place. 

Suffice it to say Adam’s transgression possesses strong significance eternally and spiritually.  Christ’s death also possesses strong significance eternally and spiritually.  The two of them together would make for an attraction to an all-loving Eternal Heavenly Father who is intent on the salvation of His creation.  Compare that with the trade route theory.

All of this brings me to my message.  I sat down and pictured Abraham preparing to take Isaac to the region of Moriah.  I wondered when and what God would tell him about that hill. 

Then it occurred to me the temple was built on mount Moriah, and Christ died just outside the city of Jerusalem, near the Temple!

That made me sit up straight.  If tradition placed Adam’s transgressions on the same hill as Christ’s crucifixion, and Christ died in the region of Moriah, what do you suppose God was going to tell Abraham about the hill he wanted Isaac to be sacrificed upon? 

That scene of Eric, me and Randy all came back to me.  Then I remembered a quote from the New Testament, John 8:56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” 

So I put together some notes about this topic.  I was excited to preach it, but never actually did. 

1.                       Abraham offered up his son in the region of Moriah on a mountain that God would tell him about.

2.                       The Temple was built on the mountain of Moriah. 

3.                       A ram in a thicket was caught by his horns on a mountain in the region of Moriah. 

4.                       A crown of thorns marred my saviour’s head from that same region, then was crucified on a mount in the region of Moriah that was unique from all other mounts in the area, one shaped like a skull. 

Do you suppose Abraham took Isaac to that same mount?  The one shaped like a skull? 

I’d like to think he did.  I’d like to think when Abraham saw the ram caught by his horns in a thorny thicket, maybe he saw a vision of our Saviour on the cross, dying for our sins.  Perhaps as he wiped the blood off of his hands, he thought about how the blood of the future Christ would cleanse us from all our sins.  And as he walked down the hill with his son, back to the camp, back to Sarah, his mind was filled with the joy of not only having his son with him, but having the knowledge he’d be with THE Son for eternity.