From Genesis 22-24
In today’s passage the LORD gives an extraordinarily difficult command, which seems to contradict his promises. Abraham is commanded by the LORD to sacrifice his son Isaac. How would you feel if you were him? If Isaac died, how would the LORD’s covenant be fulfilled?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The LORD has been faithful to his promise of offspring. Abraham has had two sons. One through Hagar – Ishmael. One through Sarah, the promised offspring. His name is Isaac (Gen 21.1-7). Then one day the LORD tested Abraham.
22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
2 He said, “Take 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.”
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” (Gen 22:1–5)
Abraham is commanded to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering.
‘Burnt offering’. Abraham has to kill his son and burn his body up in worship to the LORD. The text does not reveal any of Abraham’s feelings about the command. He goes about it obediently seemingly without complaint.
‘Come again to you’. In addition to Isaac, he takes a couple servants. He doesn’t tell anyone what he intends to do. When he asks the servants to remain, he tells them he and Isaac will return.
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Gen 22:6-8)
‘The wood’. He gives Isaac the wood to carry. Isaac probably doesn’t know anything about what his father has been commanded to do. He takes in his hand the fire. Which is probably a piece of flint to start a fire.
The knife of course is used to kill and cut up the sacrifice. The fire will burn it.
‘God will provide’. Isaac is acquainted with what is needed to sacrifice. He realises there is no lamb. Abraham cryptically answers the LORD will provide a lamb for the burnt offering. Isaac doesn’t know he is the intended offering.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (Gen 22:9-12)
‘Bound Isaac’. The text doesn’t mention Isaacs reaction to being bound. I can only suspect he was mercifully knocked unconscious before being bound. Abraham completes the preparations for the burnt offering.
He is about to slaughter his son and is stopped by an angel from heaven.
‘Not withheld’. His actions have revealed to heaven he will not hold anything back from the LORD. Not even his only son. This was the purpose of the test.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Gen 22:13-14)
Earlier when asked by Isaac where the lamb was for the burnt offering Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Gen 22.8) His answer was prophetic. The LORD did provide an offering.
On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.
The event was so significant for Abraham he coined an expression which was used in story telling of the event for a long time afterward.
Story of Israel
This story also explains the origin of the place name “Moriah,” in later times identified with the hilltop in Jerusalem where the temple stood (2 Chr 3:1). That was the place where preeminently God could be “seen,” whenever faithful Israelites offered sacrifice there. And it seems likely that this sacrifice of Abraham, of the ram instead of his son, is an archetype of OT sacrifice, where the animal suffers in place of the human worshiper. (Wenham, G. J. (2003). Genesis. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson (Eds.), Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (p. 55). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.)
Story of Jesus
In the gospel the LORD offers up his own son as a sacrifice.
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Lk 18.31-34)
On the mount, the LORD provided the sacrifice for us all. Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
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