Trust is necessary for us to survive everyday. We trust that the power company won’t take our money and run; we trust that Starbucks will still be serving coffee when we arrive; we trust that the T will take us to work (well..most of the time anyway). Despite this, trust is something that can be hard earned and easily lost. For those of us who have been let down, trusting someone can feel like a leap of faith. This week, we look at the story of Abraham, of how Abraham learns to trust God, of how God proves that He is trustworthy. We’ll ask the tough question, “what might it look like for us to trust God?”

 

Icebreaker

What was something that you were afraid of as a child? How did you overcome that fear?

 

Scripture Reading

Genesis 17:1-22; Genesis 22:1-19

 

Discussion Questions

Read Genesis 17:1-22.

1. Genesis 17:11 calls circumcision a “sign” of the covenant, meaning it is meant as a representation of the covenant, not a condition of it. What conditions does God place on Abraham in his terms of the covenant?

  • Leader's Note

    Genesis 17:1 states Abraham’s responsibilities: “walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” Here, the word “blameless” might be better translated as “uprightly,” “sincerely,”, or “completely.”

  • 2. In this passage God clarifies the terms of his promise in Genesis 12. What specifically is God’s promising to Abraham and Sarah?

    3. Why do you think God changes Abraham’s and Sarah’s names? What do these new names signify?

  • Leader's Note

     The word “Abram” means “Exalted father” and “Abraham” means father of a multitude. The word “Sarai” means “princely” and “Sarah” means “queen of princes or mother of princes.”

  • 4. What is Abraham’s response to God’s promise? Is it reasonable? How would you respond?

    5. Why do you think Abraham suggest that God use Ishmael as the child of promise? Why do you think God rejects this plan?

    Read Genesis 22:1-19.

    6. God has fulfilled his promise to Abraham and Sarah by giving them Isaac. Why would God test Abraham in this way? What exactly is God testing?

    7. What, if anything, is commendable about Abraham’s response?

  • Leader's Note

      In verse 5, Abraham tells his servants that Isaac and he “will worship and then we will come back,” and in verse 8, Abraham tells Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb.” Are these examples of Abraham deceiving everyone, or are they a declaration of God’s ability to provide or even raise Isaac from the dead if necessary? Many scholars throughout time have thought the later.
  • 8. Why does God approve of Abraham’s response? What does it tell us about what God’s desires from those who He enters into relationship with?

    9. What sort of God does this story of Abraham reveal? Is that God trustworthy, dangerous, both or something else?

    10. What do you think it means to “trust in God,” and do you?

  • Leader's Note

      It’s important to remember that while trusting God might mean something internal, it can also lead us to concrete actions. For example, Harriet Tubmann’s trust in God led her to help thousands escape the horrors of slavery.”Twant me, ’twas the Lord. I always told him, ‘I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,’ and He always did.”
  • 11. What areas of your life are you afraid to trust God with? What would it look like if you started trusting Him in that area?

     

    Diving Deeper: Isaac and Jesus

    1. How do you see the story of Abraham and Issac reflected in the story of Jesus? Why is that significant?

  • Leader's Note

      Christians have drawn parallels between Isaac and Jesus for centuries, Melito of Sardis  (d. 180) outlined the following parallels:  1) Isaac carrying the wood to the place of slaughter was understood as a reference to Christ carrying the cross; 2) Both remaining silent indicated their acceptance of the will of God; 3) Isaac ‘carried with fortitude the model of the Lord; 4) Isaac, like Jesus, knew what was to befall him; 5) Both Isaac and Jesus were bound, 6) Both were led to the sacrifice by their father, an act which caused great astonishment; 7) Neither was sorrowful at their impending sacrifice.
  • 2. How is Jesus’ story different than that of Isaac’s? What is significant about the differences?

     

    Helpful Resources

    Jewish and Christian Interpretations of the Akedah by Edward Kessler

    Commentary on Genesis 22:1-14 by Kathryn M. Schifferdecker

     

    The Reunion Team