Genesis 22:1-19 How to Pass Down Family VALUES
Today we live in a country as Christians where our greatest attack is on the family. Some examples:
Barna Research tells us that the divorce rate among Christians is statistically the same as the general population: 33% and 34%. Because of this high divorce rate, that means that as many as 1 in 3 kids today will not grow up entirely with their dad.
Here is another sad statistic:
Children from a fatherless home are:
- 5 times more likely to commit suicide.
- 32 times more likely to run away.
- 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
- 14 times more likely to commit rape (this applies to boys of course).
- 9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
- 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
- 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
- 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
The area in which fathers are failing to make the most impact is in transferring the values that are so important in maintaining stability in the family to the next generation.
Author John Eldridge puts it this way in his book Wild at Heart:
“Masculinity is bestowed. A boy learns who is he and what he’s got from a man, or a company of men. He cannot learn it from another place. He cannot learn it from other boys, and he cannot learn it from women. The plan from the beginning of time was that his father would lay the foundation for a young boy’s heart, and pass on to him that essential knowledge and confidence in his strength. Dad would be the first man in his life and forever the most important man.”
My point is this: Fathers play the most important role in the transition of values to the children. Children can and do learn values from their mother, but it is the father that cements them in their mind.
If a father tells his daughter that she is pretty and can do anything her heart desires, she will believe this and strive to succeed. If the father does not instill this value, but says that she is not worth anything and she will never get ahead in life, she will slide a slippery slope that leads to anorexia, bulimia, depression, and possibly other problems.
If a father tells his son that he is proud of him and is glad that he has done well in his achievements, the son will learn confidence and will work hard at all he does. If the father tells the son that he is just a “mamma’s boy” or is a “sissy” he will devalue his masculinity and will live an insecure life that can lead to all kinds of problems. The son will think less of himself and try to find himself in drugs, sex, or another person.
Fathers play the most important role in passing on values to their children. The story of Abraham and Isaac illustrate this truth. Here, we can learn not only the process of passing values but also the various values to pass to the children.
In the following acronym, we will learn that fathers pass down values to their children. We will also see the various values that are needed to establish a strong Christian family.
A father who passes down family values learns:
Voluntarily accept God’s direction through PRAYER. (v. 1-3)
Notice that Abraham was told by God in a dream to sacrifice his son. Abraham had spent 25 years with God and did not hesitate to follow His direction. Abraham responded in prayer with “Here I am.” Abraham and God had such a special relationship that God talked to him often.
Dads, do you have such an intimate relationship with God?
A father’s and husband’s relationship to his wife and family will only be as strong as his relationship to his God. This is true throughout Scripture, and it is true in life.
A great dad will look to God in prayer for direction in all decisions. The family should see this value and emulate it.
Ability to spend quality TIME with their son or daughter (v.3-6).
Abraham spent three days with his servant and his son on this trip. Then he spent some additional time with his son. We do not know much of what they talked about. But the part of the conversation we did read is very special.
Children need time with their parents and especially with their dad. My dad made time for me. We went on camp-outs together, baseball games, and Bible studies. These times with dad are very precious. The value of time in a world that does not seem to have time is very important.
In 1900, fathers shook their children gently and whispered, “Wake up, it’s time for school.” Today, kids shake their fathers violently at 4 a.m., shouting: “Wake up, it’s time for hockey practice.”
In 1900, a father came home from work to find his wife and children at the supper table. Today, a father comes home to a note: “Jimmy’s at baseball, Cindy’s at gymnastics, I’m at adult-Ed, Pizza in fridge.”
In 1900, fathers and sons would have heart-to-heart conversations while fishing in a stream. Today, fathers pluck the headphones off their sons’ ears and shout, “WHEN YOU HAVE A MINUTE.”
Fathers need to pass on the value of time to their children. Dads: are you spending time with your children?
Lean on God’s STRENGTH (v.7-8)
As they were walking, Isaac asked the most logical question. Where is the sacrifice? Did Isaac think he would be sacrificed? It is hard to say. Isaac would have been in his early twenties when this happened. Surely he would have seen Abraham bring the lamb for sacrifice for this is the object of Isaac’s concern. He was asking this: “Dad, where is the lamb that we usually sacrifice?” Since Abraham had many animals, Isaac would have thought that Abraham would bring the lamb.
Instead, Abraham answers with the important words: “God will provide the lamb.” Abraham knew that God would have to provide a lamb, for God made a promise to him. Through Isaac there would be a long and blessed family. How could God keep His word if He is now asking Abraham to kill this son? This is an impossible situation that requires Abraham to trust God. This reliance on God’s strength is the value that Isaac learns in this conversation. It is not fully realized until after the event.
Dads: are you trusting God in difficult circumstances? Are your children seeing your reliance on God when times are tough?
Understand and are OBEDIENT to God’s direction (v.9-13).
Not only do great dads listen to God and lean on God, but they follow directions by God. This requires an element of faith on the believer. Our faith is shown in our obedience.
Abraham was so confident in God’s direction that he even believed that God would raise his son from the dead if needed. God would not lie to Abraham and would show him the next step – if he was obedient.
God rarely tells you the great plan in your lives and all the details that go with it. He tells you the grand story of the gospel and our part in it. He gives you instruction through the Bible on how to obey Him. Then He gives you little tests. It is like giving baby steps. But these baby steps are such that you cannot see all of the steps ahead.
There is a great illustration in obedience in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In order for Indiana to save his father, he must follow the instructions laid down by his father that were written in a book. The last test is a “leap of faith.” He approaches this cavern that has an entrance on the other side with this gap in between. There appears to be no path between the gap. He looks on the map that shows a man stepping on thin air. Indiana must take a leap of faith. You can imagine the fear that Indiana has in being obedient. There are obvious physical risks. But by placing his faith in the instructions handed down, he can cross through a path that was apparently hidden.
Immediately after this test, Indiana throws some pebbles for others to follow. In the movie, the enemy follows, but in life, we share these faith steps with our family.
Children see their fathers being obedient to God’s direction and they learn that same value. The circumstances are usually different, but the value of obedience will be learned and cherished.
Dads, are you being obedient to God’s direction? Do your children see you follow God’s direction?
This leads us to our next point: Obedience is acted out in faith.
Experience God’s provision in every circumstance through FAITH (v.14)
Just as we have seen in the Indiana Jones story, to be obedient, you must show faith. Abraham came to know God more fully by trusting God. Faith is defined as Forsaking All I Trust Him.
But real faith happens in real life, through real circumstances. Faith happens in an action. Abraham obeyed God, by going to the point of sacrificing his son. He would have killed his son, even though this seemed to go against God’s earlier promise. This is what scientists call a paradox. The Bible calls it an experience of faith.
Notice that Abraham names the place. He names it Jehovah Jireh, which in Hebrew means “The-Lord-Will-Provide.” Abraham learned personally about an attribute of God. God would always provide. This came in a time of worship.
When we experience God personally in a crisis and see God work, our first inclination is to worship Him.
Now, sometimes, we run in a crisis and we panic and we ask God to provide, even demand that He provide. But this does not show us the proper value.
We should experience God in all our lives, and then when we see Him work, we worship Him. We should come on Sunday ready to tell stories of God’s work in our lives and ready to worship Him in celebration. Abraham did this, and Isaac saw this value.
Dads: do you look to God as a genie who grants your every wish, or a provider in time of need?
Strength and STABILITY come from receiving God’s blessing (v.15-19).
God blessed Abraham for his faith. Because Abraham trusted God and did what He said, God increased his influence. He gave Abraham a promise of long line of family descendants. He told Abraham that they would have influence over nations. His descendants would conquer nations.
He also gave Abraham a glimpse of our salvation. This is a gospel verse. It tells us that we have a secure place in heaven and spiritual stability because of this one act by Abraham. Now we know that Jesus came to deliver us from the penalty of sin. But this verse tells us through whose family that would happen. The Savior of the world would be a descendant of Abraham.
Abraham would see his family endure and eventually prosper for generations. This gave the family enormous strength and stability. In a similar way, fathers provide strength and stability. They keep the family together, and they – as the head of the household – receive the blessing of God.
Finally, a word to those who may have heard these words, but are struggling. Perhaps, you hear this message and you think that this is too lofty. Remember that this transfer of values happened through imperfect people. Abraham was a dead-beat dad. Remember Ishmael? And Abraham did pass on the value of lying to his son Isaac. So, Abraham was not perfect.
Just like Abraham, there are many families that are not perfect. You may be a single dad. You may be a single mom fulfilling the role of a dad in the home. You may be a grandparent doing the work of a dad. You may not have a dad.
God can still pass these values through you. God is our Father in Heaven. Just as Abraham passed these values to his son, he learned them from God. Values are not just taught by our family. They are “caught” by us from God.
Maybe you do not know any of these values. Then God can be your father who can teach you.
They all come from a loving Father in Heaven who make anything possible in your life. Abraham saw this power in this experience with his son. Isaac saw that behind the work of his father was a powerful, loving Heavenly Father.
These values can be yours as well.