Now comes the greatest test Abraham had in his life. God speaks to Abraham and tells him to sacrifice his son Isaac None of us can possibly know how Abraham felt when he felt he was told to sacrifice Isaac. By this time, Abraham had developed a great trust and faith in God. In his life he had experienced great things controlled by God. He knew a great nation would be built with Isaac the seed; or would he be?. But how could this come about if Isaac were killed before marriage and children?
Now comes the greatest test Abraham had in his life. God speaks to Abraham and tells him to sacrifice his son Isaac (emphasized in Gen. 22:2 three times by God: his son, his only son, the son he loves). The original Hebrew script is very clear here: vehaelohim nissah eth Abraham, “And the Elohim he tried this Abraham;”. God was truly testing or trying Abraham, not tempting Abraham. God brought him into these circumstances to discover his faith, love, and obedience.
Although Isaac was not Abraham's only son, Isaac did enjoy a higher status of son or heir. The general rules of the day did not lift the rights of a son of a man by a slave girl as high as the son of the man's wife. Therefore, as far as Abraham's seed for the covenant, Isaac was Abraham's only son. Abraham did not even know specifically where this was to happen (area of Moriah). He only knew he was told to do it.
He sets out in the morning with Isaac, a couple of men to help with the trip, and supplies. In three days he saw the mountain and proceeded up the mountain with Isaac and the sacrificial supplies. Numbers have a definite significance in the Bible. The numbers 3 and 7 and 12 might be obvious. Here in Genesis, Abraham and his son go TO the sacrifice; Jesus. Although Isaac questions where the animal sacrifice is located, Abraham said that God would provide.
This has to be the most powerful time of faith of Abraham. However, what did he think was going to happen? Did he think God would stop it? Did he think God would allow him to kill Isaac? Did he think God would rise Isaac back from the dead? We do not know for sure what was in Abraham's mind. One likely thought is he thought God would not allow the death. In Gen. 22:8, Abraham states that God would provide. In fact, that is what happened. However, if it were required, Abraham put himself into the position of doing the deed. The angel of the Lord states again the promise of the multiplying of Abraham's seed.
None of us can possibly know how Abraham felt when he felt he was told to sacrifice Isaac. First of all we would have to understand how God told Abraham. Was this clearly understood? By this time, Abraham had developed a great trust and faith in God. In his life he had experienced great things controlled by God. He knew a great nation would be built; Isaac was the seed, not Ishmael. But how could this come about if Isaac were killed before marriage and children? Abraham knew Isaac would be spared. At the very worst, God would bring Isaac back to life. To raise the knife with the intent to use it was strength of faith not second to anyone but Jesus.
Abraham built a fire, bound his son, and laid Isaac on the altar. Abraham lifts his knife and is ready to sacrifice his son. Then an angel of the Lord tells Abraham to stop. He has passed the test of God. He was WILLING to sacrifice his son for God. There was a ram caught in the thicket. Abraham catches and sacrifices it instead of Isaac.
What a test of faith of Abraham! Did Abraham feel that God was definitely going to stop it? What did he think was going to happen? Did he think God would allow him to kill Isaac? Abraham states that God would provide. In fact, that is what happened. However, if it were required, Abraham put himself into the position of doing the deed. The angel of the Lord states again the promise of the multiplying of Abraham's seed.
This is the kind of faith and trust that would be very difficult to find today. We would rationalize without stop what God really meant. Certainly we did not understand what God was asking. But God has asked us to give up everything for Him and then we will have everything. This is still hard to understand. The ram was sent to Abraham. This was his chosen sacrifice. Jesus was sent to us as the final sacrifice for our sins. Even looking back in Biblical and profane history, we still cannot understand the power of God when we do as God asks.<./font>
Abraham names the location of the sacrifice "The Lord Will Provide". Now the angel speaks again. The angel says that Abraham will indeed be blessed by God because of this thing that Abraham was willing to do. He was willing to give up his son for God. God would multiply and bless his seed. The number will be as the number of stars and the sand grains of the seashore. Then Abraham goes back to the men who came with Abraham and Isaac. They returned to Beersheba.
God is extremely satisfied of the actions of Abraham. It is something about which to think to understand how Abraham communicated with God enough to know that God wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son. How would we react today to a direct order by God to perform some act that we would hate to do. The Bible literally says that God calls out and speaks to Abraham.
There is a peculiar phrase that may be confusing. In Gen. 22:17 the words "...and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies". That may be hard to understand. The word "gate" is shaar and can be translated to "cities". So substituting in the phrase: "... and your seed shall possess the city of their enemies." Even the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses the word "cities". By the "gates", may be meant all the strength, whether troops, counsels, or fortified cities of their enemies. This understanding is even used int the New Testament (Matthew 16:18 )
Remember that Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran died in Ur. Nahor married Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah (review genealogy). The following chart gives the genealogy or Nahor as given in verses 20-24.
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