Faith Lutheran Church Desboro
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16. ESV
The Second Sunday In Lent
Father Abraham had many sons, Many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you, So let’s all praise the Lord.
Sons receive the inheritance. Sons carry on the family name. “You are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:26) in Christ Jesus. Through Jesus, the great Son of Abraham, I’m a son of Abraham—the one God credited as righteous on account of his faith (Genesis 15:6). And, so are you.
Both Abram and Sarai are given new names by the Lord in today’s Old Testament. “Abram”(םרבא) means “exalted father.” Looking to future generations, including Jesus, including us, God renamed him “Abraham,” (םהרבא) which means “father of many nations.” His wife Sarai (יר) was renamed “Sarah,” (הר) which means “princess.” God would make her the mother of many nations. Abram heard these great, rich promises in full incline: while face down, prostrate in worship ahead of God Almighty. For he and his wife had not earned this unique favour from God—no they had done nothing to deserve His rich blessing. The Lord blesses Father Abraham and Princess Sarah by His grace alone—His pure, undeserved favour.
Faulty Family Tree
Sinners were they. For not long after God’s unexpected, unsolicited, gracious call of Abram in the pagan land of Ur in Old Babylonia, when he was seventy-five years old, our Father in the faith soon showed his sin. Twice, fearing for his life, Abram called Sarai his sister (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-13). Although this was true, Abram concealed the greater truth: that Sarai, his princess, was also his wife. Abram broke God’s commandments: one, five, six, and eight. Sarai went along with the deception. Later, she urged her husband to have a child (Ismael) with her servant, Hagar. When contempt for Hagar and her son filled her heart, angry Sarai drove mother and child out of the house, out into the desert, so they would die of starvation and thirst (Genesis 16:1-6). Sexual sin, anger, violence, unbelief and fear. Sarai and Abram were no plaster saints. Like all people, they had sinful skeletons in the closet of their family tree.
When we read in the Bible (or see in the news today) that great women and men like Abram and Sarai fall into great sin and vice, we might become proud in our hearts and say to ourselves: ‘Well, I’m not perfect. But at least I haven’t done that.’ “These things happened to them as an example to them, but they were written down to warn us” (I Corinthians 10:11). Why? So we repent. Turn from our sins. For the same sin that was in them is in us. We are tempted by sexual sin, the pressure to conform to the ways of the world, to throw others under the bus to save ourselves; fear; unbelief. “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Sadly, Father Abraham is like us in the sins that tempt us; in the sins against God’s Commandments that trap us. We can try to excuse ourselves; to rationalize our words; to justify our actions (Romans 2:15). Christians: just own it! Repent. Confess. Be forgiven!
Covenant In Christ
I’m a son of Abraham. And so are you. Because of Jesus: the Son of Abraham. The Lord’s covenant of blessing with Abraham—to be the father of many nations—resulted in Jesus Christ, born of Mary in Bethlehem: the Son of Abraham and the Son of God. Covenant means promise. Out of Sarah’s agèd body, from her family line, the Saviour of the ages arose. Out of the family tree of Abraham, the branch of David produced the Messiah of the nations.
Childless Abraham, at ninety-nine, trusted in the Lord to fulfill His Word, and establish His covenant. Through this Holy Child of promise, Jesus the Christ, all his sins were forgiven. For “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Father Abraham and Princess Sarah believed God. They trusted in the Messiah, in the Son of Abraham to be born.
Just as we do. We don’t have to be of Jewish ancestry. We don’t have to be descended from Abraham’s family tree to be sons of Abraham. For, he is “the father of all who believe” (Romans 4:11) in Jesus for salvation. Since we have been baptized into Jesus, we are kings (v. 6) and queens, princesses and princes in the kingdom of Abraham’s greater Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose again from the dead to fulfill the Lord’s covenant with Abraham. Throughout all the nations of the world, the one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church is made up of all who hold in their hearts the faith of Abraham. As we receive the Lord’s blessing of the forgiveness of our sins, we are a blessing to others. Sons of Abraham.
Sarai and Abram were renamed by the Lord. So have we. Like Abraham, you came into the world connected to the human family: identified by your last name. Then, Mom and Dad chose your given name: that’s yours alone. Born again in the water and Word of Holy Baptism, the Lord has renamed you: Christian. That’s the name that means, “like Christ.”
Children of Abraham, trust in the Lord: in His blessing of forgiveness, in Christ Jesus, life and salvation. You’re a son of Abraham. And so am I.
Genesis 22:1-18. ESV
The First Sunday In Lent
‘Take your only son Isaac... and sacrifice him,’ said the Lord. ‘What’s that? Come again?’
Abraham was a friend of God (II Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, St. James 2:23). The Lord called Abram from the pagan land of Ur in the east, to leave his father’s house, pack up and travel to the land of Canaan. The caravan of Abram and Sarai headed west to the land God promised to give him, propelled along by the joy of the Lord’s promise to make him the father of many nations. By grace alone, Abram had the blessing of the Lord.
But, the promises were slow in coming true. For land, Abram only had a burial plot for his wife in this Promised Land. Ishmael, son of Abram’s servant, seemed to be heir-apparent of his entire legacy. The son promised by the Lord would not be born yet—not until years later into the future. Sarah was ninety and Abraham was one hundred years old when the promised son finally was born. A baby in the house at that age made them laugh! So they called him Isaac (קחצי “laughter”). Nobody was laughing a dozen or more years later. Not on the day when God tested Abraham. The Almighty was deadly serious when He commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering at the summit of Mount Moriah. Abraham loved his son. How would God fulfill His promise to make Abraham the father of many nations without Isaac? A burnt offering! Come again?
Repent: Come Back!
Well, with those same words, the Lord calls out to each of us: ‘Come back to Me,’ He tenderly invites. Repent and be saved!
The sacrifice of Isaac is the appointed Old Testament reading to begin this first Sunday in Lent. These forty days before Easter provide us with a season to prepare: to examine our hearts and lives through the mirror of God’s Word to see our sins, to turn from them; to see our Saviour and be forgiven by Him. To come back. Repent!
Christ Comes Back For Us
“In returning and rest you shall be saved” (Isaiah 30:15), God promises! We repent of our sins and come back to the Lord because He comes back for us. In Christ Jesus, God’s only Son, the Lord provides for us: forgiveness, life, and salvation.
Jesus is like Isaac, only greater. Through Isaac, God promised to bless Abraham with many descendants: a whole nation to bless the world. Through Jesus, the Child born as the great Descendant of Eve, God promised to bless all peoples with the birth of a Saviour from sin, death, and hell. Abraham and Sarah waited for many years for Isaac to be born. But, from the beginning of the world, believers in God waited for thousands of years for the Messiah to be born. Both boys were only sons of their fathers: Isaac born to Abraham; Jesus begotten of the heavenly Father. Both sons were obedient to their fathers’ commands: going to death willingly. Isaac must have had a strong body: he carried the wood for the sacrifice on his back and shoulders as he climbed the mountain. Jesus, at thirty-three years of age, carried a greater wooden burden: bearing His own cross out of the city of Jerusalem to the hill of Golgotha. On that cross, Christ would be crucified. Bound, and lying prone on the altar of sacrifice, Isaac was ready to die at the hand of his father. By the grace of God, in His great compassion, He sent His angel to intervene and spare Isaac’s life. Nailed to the cross, Jesus went all the way, and died in our place. Jesus is the Lamb of God provided by the Lord to take our sins away (St. John 1:29). Lord, have mercy! He died. Isaac lives. He died. We live. We, as we repent of our sins, trust in God’s only Son our Saviour for forgiveness. We come back to the Lord in repentance. The crucified, risen, and living Christ comes back for us: working among us today in His Word and in His Sacraments.
We Will Come Again
In Christ, we will come again. That’s what Abraham believed. Even in the face of such a terrible task: even when commanded to offer his only son into death in the flames, Abraham trusted in God for renewal of life. For resurrection. To come back from this.
“We will come again to you,” Abraham told his two servants who waited with the donkey, “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (v. 5). How’s that? Come again?
This just doesn’t add up. If Abraham offers his son on the altar of burnt offering, then how can he and his son come back to the servants?
The resurrection of the body! In Christ, we come back again. The author of the book of Hebrews explains: “By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
The terrible reality of sin: death takes our loved ones away from us. The terrible test Abraham faced was losing his son, his only son, the son whom he loved. Just as we heard Ash Wednesday’s terrible refrain: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Sounds like there’s no coming back from that. But in Christ, we will live again. When He resurrects our bodies, a great reunion will happen in heaven with those saints who have died in this world only to live again in the world to come.
Christ has defeated death. In Jesus, we will come again.