Chapter 22 — Each time I read this account, my heart completely aches. Could I do what Abraham did? Would I TRUST God enough? Would my FAITH be strong enough? I simply cannot imagine what Abraham went through. After 25 years of waiting, at the age of 100, Abraham and Sarah were given their promised son. I am making an educated guess that Isaac is about 10 or 12 by this point so Abraham is 110-112. The son, his ONLY son, that God promised him and made the Covenant with him about is the same son God is asking him to SACRIFICE!!! WHOA!!!!
Abraham was being tested to deepen his capacity to obey God and to further develop his own character. Remember, God called Abraham righteous because he BELIEVED HIM, not because he was perfect (Gen 15:6). Remember Abraham had lied twice about “she’s my sister”, oh yeah… sure “lets make a baby Hagar”, and in a few tough times Abraham didn’t seek the Lord’s advice as to what to do, so yes… he is being tested. I was so touched that Abraham and Isaac were so close. Scripture does not indicate that either Abraham or Isaac were anxious, or anticipating anything out of the ordinary. God spoke to Abraham and he obeyed. He and Isaac are going to worship the Lord together which tells me this may have been a regular activity for them. They were “buds”, Abraham loved him deeply, and he was teaching Isaac how to have a relationship with God. The Scripture mentions NOTHING about Abraham sharing with Sarah, or his servants, what God had asked him to do. Abraham obeyed immediately, NO delay, NO hesitation. I can be the BEST procrastinator I know. What God asked of Abraham was HUGE and yet he IMMEDIATELY obeyed. WOW!!
However, there is a much deeper story here. If you have been reading along for the past 19 days you know I keep mentioning to look for Jesus on every page (and if you are just joining us …. Be sure start doing this… you will be blessed). What is the deeper story? THIS IS A FORESHADOW OF JESUS AND A PARALLEL OF THE SACRIFICE. Before last year, I NEVER read it this way, and OH what an eye opening, heart deepening, soul changing read it was and still is. If you think about Abraham and Isaac as well as God and Jesus….. you begin to see what an ENORMOUS blessing God gave us/did for us!!
Let’s take a look at the similarities: (get out your pens, open your Bibles and get ready to circle things and write in the margins, you will want to remember this so you can share it with others).
- Verse 2 — God said: Take your son, your ONLY SON, Isaac, WHOM YOU LOVE, and go to the region of Moriah…. SACRIFICE HIM there…
- Verse 2 — On one of the MOUNTAINS
- Verse 3 — He set out for the place GOD HAD TOLD HIM about. ON THE THIRD DAY Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
- Verse 5 – We will WORSHIP
- Verse 6 – He himself placed the WOOD for the burnt offering and (he) PLACED IT ON HIS SON, he himself carried the fire and the knife.
- Verse 7 – Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “FATHER”
- Verse 7 – “YES MY SON” said Abraham
- Verse 7 – “Where is the LAMB for the burnt offering?”
- Verse 8 – GOD HIMSELF, WILL PROVIDE THE LAMB for the burnt OFFERING, my son
- Verse 9 – He BOUND his son Isaac and laid him on the altar ON TOP OF THE WOOD
- Verse 13 – Abraham looked up and there in a thicket HE SAW A RAM caught by its horns. He went over and took the RAM and SACRIFICED IT as a burnt offering INSTEAD OF HIS SON.
After the angel told Abraham not to lay a hand on the boy, God tells him “NOW I KNOW that you FEAR GOD, because you have NOT WITHHELD from me your son, your only son.” Abraham had passed the test of obedience, faith, and belief.
God KNEW what Abraham was going through. He KNEW HE would send Jesus and HE would watch HIS ONLY son, whom HE loved, be mistreated, lied about, tortured, beaten, made to carry HIS wooden cross up the hill to be crucified on, suffer for 6 hours on the cross before He died, get buried, and then on the THIRD DAY he would rise again… conquering DEATH for each of us!!
Is that TOTALLY AMAZING or what???
It is a story that is been told since it happened. It is a story to share (and I am SURE both Abraham and Isaac were sharing it during their three day return home with the servants and then with Sarah…. Can you IMAGINE her face when they told her!!??)…. And NOW we are reading about it.
How do we share the Gospel? We retell a part or parts of the Bible.
SALVATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT IS THE SAME AS IT IS IN THE NEW TESTIMENT!!! (Go ahead read that sentence again … actually read all of chapter 22 again and let it bathe your soul.)
HOW was the Hebrew Nation going to share with the generations that SALVATION begins by believing that WE do deserve to be sacrificed BUT that GOD WILL PROVIDE A substitute to take our place? (Remember how God had to kill an innocent animal in the Garden of Eden, shed its blood, so that he could cover Adam and Eve’s sin with the innocent animal’s skin??) Through Abraham and Isaac, God SHOWS the Father of the Hebrew Nation, the portrait of the Gospel … that would be passed down through the generations … that we are still discussing today!!! Remember one of God’s promises to Abraham was (Gen 12:3 “…and ALL peoples on earth will be blessed THROUGH YOU.) THIS IS ONLY the beginning of the story of that blessing!:-)
Can you see in your heart and mind the FORESHADOW OF JESUS AND PARALLEL OF THE SACRIFICE?
As Abraham is about to drive the knife into his son and light the wood for the sacrifice .. the angel calls out to Abraham and tells him DO NOT HARM THE BOY!! At that moment I personally would have dropped the knife, laid myself over my child (and I don’t even have children), cried out of pure joy, and would not have been able to stop saying thank you God. Abraham looks up and sees a lamb caught in the thicket. I am convinced that the lamb was miraculously placed there by God at that moment. I don’t know if you have ever been around sheep… but that trapped lamb would have been bleating his little heart out. Yet he is “just there”… not heard or noticed before.
This lamb became the SUBSTITUE for Isaac’s LIFE. Just like our Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world … is the SUBSTITUTE for our death and the COVERING/FORGIVENESS/REDEMPTION for our sins so we may spend eternity with HIM. Because of our sinful nature, we should be on that altar, but God LOVED us SO much that HE gave us a substitute so that we may have LIFE…. HIS ONLY son, Jesus Christ, whom HE LOVED, was SACRIFICED for you and for me, so we may have LIFE. JESUS made the ultimate sacrifice… but I’ve read ahead and I’m getting ahead of myself 🙂
One other thing about this Scripture is Abraham’s words in verse 5 – “He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. WE will WORSHIP AND THEN WE WILL COME BACK TO YOU.’ “
Did you notice that Abraham told his servants WE WILL COME BACK TO YOU?? Abraham already BELIEVED through his FAITH in his GOD ALMIGHTY, in his EVERLASTING GOD, that one way or the other BOTH he and Isaac would be coming back down the mountain TOGETHER. Abraham KNEW God told him to sacrifice his son. Abraham was fully planning to obey God. So my conclusion is that either Abraham knew in his heart that God would supply a substitute OR that he somehow believed in a resurrection of life. EITHER way… that is just plain FAITH and true BELIEF that God would keep HIS promises, HIS Covenant to him. AHHHHHHHmazing GRACE… HOW sweet the sound!!!
Check out Hebrews 11: 17-19
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
Abraham’s brother, Nahor has sons ….. MANY of them!! In verses 20-24 … the list goes on and on. However, did you happen to notice the name REBEKAH in the list? The best way for me NOT to take a snooze on all the lists of names is by doing a “family tree.” I will post one on the sons of Terah (Abraham’s father) and his three sons so you can see it, make notes on it, and look for the little gems in them. Abraham says in chapter 24:3-4:
I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
Chapter 23 – we read about the death of Sarah. (In case this is your first day reading with us, God does not mention in scripture when Eve died ….. ummmmmm.) Remember that Abraham negotiates a deal with Ephron (means “fawn-like”) the Hittite, son of Zohar for the cave of MACHPELAH (means “double” or “portion”) near Mamre (means “strength” or “fatness”). In my HEAD I could see two Jewish men…. Ephron – “No no let me give you the land”… Abraham –“no no, I want to pay”…. Ephron – “No no, giving it to you is the least I can do because of your loss”…. Abraham – “Thank you but please tell me what you would want for the land” … Ephron – “Well if you must I will take 400 shekels of silver, just for your wife… Abraham – “I will take it.” This bartering was customary “back in the day”. If Abraham would have simply taken the land for free it would have been an insult to Ephron and Ephron would walked away without a deal. However, once Ephron stated a price the customary thing would have been for Abraham to barter him down. BUT… Abraham stopped and paid him top dollar. My “Life Application Bible” states that it was WAY too much for the piece of land. Abraham was not trying to take anything he didn’t deserve. He KNEW God had promised him the land, but he was not going to simply take it away from Ephron. Again…. LOOK at Abraham’s character!!!
Chapter 24 – Abraham’s servant honors his request and returns to Abraham’s people to locate a wife for Isaac. In Abraham’s request to his servant he was also honoring God so Isaac would not marry outside his people. He did not want his son to be “unequally yoked” and he knew the Canaanites worshiped idols. The servant asked for God’s guidance (maybe the servant learned this from Abraham 🙂 ), and God was faithful. The servant sees Rebekah (means “ensnarer” … rut row.. what will that mean??), sees how beautiful she is, sees how perfect she is and the servant praises God for what he has seen. When Isaac sees her and she sees him… it is LOVE at first sight. They were married! Don’t miss the nuggets in this chapter such as the servant swears an oath to Abraham by placing his hand under his thigh (today we shake hands)…. And much more… see what nuggets you can pick out and share on the blog. ALSO… REMEMBER the name LABAN (means “white” .. maybe he was a “pale face” ) who was Rebekah’s brother.. we will see it again.
And, yes… Rebekah was Isaac’s cousin. Just remember that sin often takes time to destroy things which is why today it is not wise to marry a relative (in most states anyway) 🙂 Blood lines were still pure in Genesis. If you stop and think about it … it would have been hard to find someone you were not “kin” to if you were supposed to marry within your own “people” .. after all EVERY one came from Adam and Eve.
Sharing HIS love,
Would love to hear if this is helping you, if a scripture touched you, if you wish I would make the entries shorter… I enjoy comments so we can learn from each other 🙂 Tell tell… I’d love to hear from you.