Genesis 22:1-18 KJV
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
After these things? After God had called him out of a distant land and settled him in the Promise Land of Canaan. After God had protected him and provided for him through the years. After God had consulted with him concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and saved Lot for Abraham’s sake. After God had given him the son of promise, Isaac, even though Abraham had already produced a son of the flesh, Ishmael. In other words, after God had proven Himself faithful to Abraham, He tested him.
And he said, “Here I am.”
Notice the quick, straightforward reply of Abraham. This response reveals that Abraham was in good standing with God. Unlike Adam, who had sinned and hid among the trees because he was afraid to be in God’s presence, Abraham was ready to commune with God.
Are you ready to commune with God? If not, is it because you are out of relationship with Him through sin or afraid of what He may ask of you? In the first case, repent so you may be restored. In the second, think about all He has done for you and remind yourself that He always has your best interests at heart.
Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
God came to Abraham with simple instructions. God didn’t give reasons or make assurances about the outcome. The test was designed to see if Abraham truly trusted God.
God made a jarring statement. He called Isaac Abraham’s only son; the son whom he loves! Anyone familiar with this story knows that Ishmael was Abraham’s son by Hagar. So, what is God saying?
There are legitimate and illegitimate children. As a rule, legitimate children receive the inheritance. Since Ishmael was not born according to the stipulations of God’s promise to Abraham, he was not his legitimate son and heir. Abraham had, therefore, disinherited him and sent him away. And thus, God recognized the beloved Isaac as Abraham’s only son. This scenario presents Isaac as a type of Jesus Christ, God’s only beloved Son, born according to promise after a lengthy wait. And, it allows Abraham to play the role of God the Father, by willingly offering his only beloved son as a sacrifice.
God told Abraham to go to the land of Moriah, to a specific spot which God would show him, and offer Isaac there as a burnt offering. Why there? We know, looking back, that God was taking Abraham to Golgotha, the very place where Jesus would be crucified as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sin.
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
What an example of obedience! Abraham willingly obeyed. He did not ask questions or argue with God. And, he did not try to postpone the trip, hoping God would change His mind. No, Abraham, based on years of relational experience with God, trusted Him, and hastened to obey Him; only taking time for the needed preparations.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
One with less faith than Abraham would have turned away from that dreadful place and painful assignment. But, he had been considering God’s faithfulness and contemplating his mission for three days and had come to a positive conclusion. He believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead and he confessed his belief by saying, “we will come back to you.” He trusted God with Isaac’s life because He knew God would not lie and God had promised him descendants through Isaac which were as yet unborn.
This reminds me of a situation I faced. I had a spiritual dream about a friend which gave details about the future. Later, my friend ended up in the ICU on death’s door. In the natural it appeared she might die, but I was sure she would pull through because details of the dream hadn’t yet been fulfilled, and I comforted her family with those words. Faith sustained me as Abraham’s faith sustained him. She pulled through and Isaac was spared because God is always faithful! He is “not a man that He should lie.”
So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice foreshadowing that Jesus would carry His own cross. The accuracy of the predictions shown in these Biblical Types are only possible because it is God inspired.
But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
We often think of Isaac as being a teenager during this event but the Book of Jasher says he was 37 years old. Regardless of his age, Abraham could not have offered Isaac without his consent. Abraham’s assurance to Isaac no doubt increased Isaac’s faith that everything would turn out all right and he willingly cooperated with his beloved father’s attempt to obey God and sacrifice him.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
As Abraham built the altar and placed the wood in order, God had created the very Mount where His Son would die and would grow the trees used to form His cross in due time. As Abraham bound his son and laid him on the altar, God the Father spiritually bound Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus asked three times to be released from going to the cross if it were possible. And, as Isaac had done before Him, Jesus yielded to His Father’s bonds.
The Gethsemane interaction between God the Father and Jesus, His Son. clearly presents the Father as the one who is offering His Son for the sins of the world, and just as clearly depicts Jesus yielding to the will of the Father because there was no other way to provide salvation for sinful mankind. Lest we think Jesus was overcome with sorrow, Hebrews 12:2 tells us: “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He looked beyond the sorrow of the cross and was strengthened by His hope of eternal joy with those who would be saved!
As Jesus would, Abraham did everything God required of him willingly, and Isaac yielded to his father’s will as well. What a testimony to Abraham’s personal faithfulness to God and to his godly training of Isaac. His faith had become his son’s faith. They both freely chose to obey God and were rewarded for it.
But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
As we know, the Angel of the LORD refers to the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. The very One Who would willingly lay down His life so others could go free intervened on Isaac’s behalf.
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
By God’s grace, Abraham passed God’s test with flying colors! He proved his faith in God by his actions, as James would later declare. He became known as the Father of the Faithful for all future generations; for Jews and Gentiles alike.
Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will Provide; as it is said this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
Just at the right moment, Jesus, Himself, provided a sacrifice! This sacrifice, which was freely given to Abraham, took the place of his son, Isaac. What a foretelling of His provision of Himself as the sacrifice which would take the place of every “child” God loves. And, this Godly provision resulted in a prophetic proverb which proclaimed the coming sacrifice of Jesus for generations before He actually came to the Mount of the LORD and provided Himself as the substitute to procure our salvation.
The truth of that proclamation still goes forth today. Please understand and know that you are the one who has been provided for! If you are separated from your Heavenly Father by sin, Jesus has provided Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for your sin so that you can come into an eternal love relationship with your holy Heavenly Father. This means that no matter what you have done, your deserved death penalty has been covered by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross of Calvary and it will be credited to you if you confess your sins, forsake them, and turn to your Heavenly Father for forgiveness and a new life of obedience to Christ. How glorious the grace of God is toward us!
Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
For his obedience, Jesus promised Abraham a multitude of natural descendants (the Jews) and spiritual descendants (the blessed believers in Yahweh of all nations).
It is important to remember that the Jews and the Jewish nation have been preserved through history because of God’s promise to Abraham. All who fight the fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise will lose. God is in control and His Word never goes forth and returns without the desired result.
Not all Jews will be saved but a remnant will. God’s Word tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to bless Israel. How God deals with Israel is His business but He has commanded that we do them good and He has promised to bless or curse us according to how we respond to that command.
Not all Gentiles will be saved, but those who believe in Jesus and His Father, and follow in the footsteps of Abraham by faith and obedience, are his spiritual children and will receive eternal life along with the remnant of faithful Jews.
May you be blessed today as you put your trust in Yahweh and stand with Israel!