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Lesson 5: Atonement Announced *

Introduction: If you were God, what would you do when humans rejected you? Two weeks ago we studied how it was that Adam and Eve sinned and plunged us all into a terrible situation. Last week we looked at what God planned to do to throw a life-line to humans. This week we progress to God's announcement to humans of His great plan for disaster relief. How difficult a decision was this for God? Why would God announce in advance what He had in mind? Why not leave His options open? What does this show us (again) about the character of God? Let's dive into our study and learn more!

  1. The Promise

    1. We pick up the story just after Adam and Eve sinned. Let's read Genesis 3:8. Why did Adam and Eve hide? (It shows a guilty conscience. They now understood evil.)

    2. Read Genesis 3:9-10. Is this an honest answer? (No. First, Genesis 3:7 tells us that they were not actually naked. Second, they hid because of their guilt.)

    3. Read Genesis 3:11-12. What do you think about this confession? What would you think if you were God? (Adam blames both God and Eve for his sin!)

    4. Read Genesis 3:13. What do you think about Eve's confession? (It is better than Adam's. She is also blaming something else (the serpent) and thus may be indirectly blaming God. But, she says she was deceived and admits the deed.)

    5. Step back a minute and put yourself in God's place. Eve had previously decided that Satan was right - that God had lied to her and that God was not trustworthy. With that background, how should God react to the conversation we just studied? (If I were God I would be livid. My creation believed Me to be a liar. When I confront them, they continue to lie (at least Adam) and even blame Me for their sin!)

      1. Would you feel like dying a painful death for them? Giving up your Son for them? Or, would a quick zap - so that they evaporated - seem to be the right thing to do? You had, after all, warned them.

    6. Read Genesis 3:14-15. What promise does God make about the "offspring" of the woman? (This is a promise of the incarnation: Jesus coming from heaven to be born of a woman (Mary). Jesus would defeat Satan ("crush your head")and Satan would inflict pain on Jesus ("strike His heel").)

  2. Feeling God's Pain

    1. Read Genesis 22:1-2. Put yourself in Abraham's place. God just told you to kill and then burn your son. What reasons would you have to disobey this command from God?

      1. Notice how God describes Isaac in these verses. Is this supposed to increase the odds that Abraham will obey? (God emphasizes that this is (now) Abraham's "only son" whom he "loves." Talk about making things worse!)

      2. Read Leviticus 20:1-2 and Jeremiah 32:35. What is God's view of sacrificing children?

        1. Why would God instruct Abraham to do just the opposite of His character? Something He said would "never enter [His] mind?"

      3. Read Genesis 21:12. What had God said would be the future of Isaac?

        1. What would this text trigger in your mind if you were Abraham? (That God had sent off my first-born son (Ishmael) when he was a teen. I didn't want that. I didn't expect that. It broke my heart. And, God sending Ishmael away seemed contrary to the promise God made to me in Genesis 17:20. Is God now breaking His promise to me again? Depriving me of my only remaining son when he is very young?)

      4. Abraham is 120 years old, he is rich and he is honored. His son is about to take charge of his fortune. Everything was going as planned. Could God really mean this now?

    2. Read Genesis 22:3-5. Do you think Abraham told Sarah before he left?

      1. What would he say when he returned and had killed her only son?

      2. Why does Abraham do this right away?

      3. How would you like a three day journey just to think about sacrificing your only, beloved, son?

      4. Why does Abraham tell his servants that "we will come back to you?"

    3. Read Genesis 22:6-8. Do you think that Abraham believes what he told Isaac? Or, is Abraham lying to give comfort to his son? (Read Genesis 18:14. I feel confident that a terrible struggle took place in Abraham's mind. Bottom line, I think Abraham just decided that God would work things out - nothing was too hard for God.)

    4. Read Genesis 22:9-10. At some point Abraham has to tell Isaac about God's instructions. What can we believe was Isaac's reaction? (He obviously agreed to this. He could have overpowered dad. He believed that his father knew the voice of God and he shared the faith of his father.)

      1. Had Abraham committed to do the terrible deed that violated all logic except the logic of obedience to God? (Yes. Unbelievable!)

      2. Was there any shred of logic to this? Was it pure trust in God? (Read Hebrews 11:17-19. Abraham had worked out the logic of reconciling the promises of God with this current command.)

    5. Read Genesis 22:11-12. Abraham passes the most intense test of faith. Where Adam and Eve failed, Abraham proved to be faithful (with a much more terrible test). Why would God give Abraham such a terrible test? Why would God have this test recorded in the Bible? This is a test that could give some people the wrong idea. (I think God wanted humans to understand what (at that point in time) God had promised to do for us. He wanted us to understand the extraordinary nature of His promise of giving up His Son for us.)

    6. Read Genesis 22:13-14. Remember when I asked you whether Abraham was telling the truth to Isaac in Genesis 22:8 when he said "the Lord will provide?" Did God provide? (Yes!)

      1. How does the ram compare to Jesus? (Just as this ram took the place of Isaac, and spared his life, so Jesus takes the place of our children, our parents and ourselves, and spares us from eternal death.)

    7. We don't have any record about the details of how God the Father and God the Son (Jesus) agreed upon the plan that Jesus would die for our sins. How many of those details do you think the Abraham and Isaac story supply?

      1. What does Abraham's story teach us about our heavenly Father who had no one(but Himself or Jesus)to stay His hand when His Son, Jesus, died in our place?

      2. Read Isaiah 52:14-15. This is a prophecy that points to the torture Jesus suffered. Imagine that Abraham had to watch Isaac being tortured before he was killed? Do you think Abraham would have passed that test?

  3. Walking in God's Path

    1. What does this story of Abraham and Isaac teach us about the importance of works in our salvation by faith? What if Abraham had refused to do this? Failed this test? (Compare James 2:20-22 with Romans 4:1-3.)

    2. Read Exodus 32:31-32. This is a conversation between God and Moses after the people had created a golden calf and started worshiping it. What kind of attitude does Moses reflect? (He reflects the attitude of Jesus. He offers his life for theirs.)

    3. Read Exodus 32:33-34. Is it possible for one human to atone for another? (No. Not even a great man like Moses. Jesus is fully God and fully human. Only He could die for our sins.)

      1. How do we walk in the path of Jesus and Moses if we cannot atone for the sins of others? (We can show them self-sacrificing love. Our faith in what God has done for us should be reflected in our self-sacrificing love for others.)

    4. Friend, our salvation was planned before the Creation of the world. God announced His plan immediately after humans sinned. God plainly set out for us the emotions of His plan in the account of Abraham and Isaac. Can you have any doubt that Jesus is the Messiah? Can you have any doubt about God's amazing love for you? How He loves you! Why not pledge your life to Him today?

  4. Next week: Atonement in Symbols: Part 1.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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