Genesis Chapter 22

The Testing of Abraham I. Observation A. Context: • Not sure how much later, but obviously Isaac was old enough to make a 3+ day journey (v. 4) and carry enough wood for the sacrifice (v. 6) • Abraham, Isaac, and 2 servants left Beersheeba (Gen. 21: 33-34) for the region of Moriah, which refers to the hills near Jerusalem, approximately 50 miles from Beersheeba (Ryrie). B. Events: 1. The Journey (v. 1-8) a. God tested Abraham’s faith (v. 1) and fear of the Lord (v. 12). • God doesn’t tempt us, but sometimes tests our faith (James 1:13-15) b. God’s command: Take your only son and sacrifice him (v. 2) c. Abraham’s response: Immediate obedience = “Early the next morning…” (v. 3) d. Traveled north for 3 days, then Abraham and Isaac continue on alone and on foot (v. 5) e. Isaac asks “where’s the lamb?” and Abraham replies, “The Lord will provide” (v. 7-8) • Imagine how awkward this could have been, yet Abraham answers confidently • See Interpretation and Discussion section below for more on this discourse. 2. The Moment of Truth (v. 9-12) a. Abraham builds an altar and arranges the wood (v. 9) b. Binds his son and places him on the altar (v. 9) • I wonder what Isaac did & said at this point…I doubt he was silent… c. Draws his knife to slay his son in obedience to God’s command 3. Deliverance of Isaac and God’s provision of a substitute a. The angel of the Lord (likely pre-incarnate Christ, based on evidence in v. 12 & 15) (1) I know you fear God because you have not withheld from me…(v. 12) (2) I swear by myself, says the Lord… (v. 15) b. God did provide a substitute, interestingly enough it was a sheep like Abraham said in v. 8 4. Assurance of God’s promised blessing on Abraham’s descendants (v. 15-19) a. God uses familiar objects to illustrate his message, i.e. stars and sand (v. 17) • Interestingly, God demonstrates two scopes: visible stars could possibly be counted if given enough time, but sand would be virtually impossible to number b. Specific promises regarding Abraham’s descendants (v. 17-18) (1) As numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the seashore (2) They will take possession of the cities of their enemies (victory in future battles & conquest) (3) Through them all nations of the earth will be blessed • This likely is a reference to Christ, for no other descendants of Abraham have influenced the world even remotely to the scope of Christ’s impact (Great Commission, Matt 28:18) II. Interpretation & Discussion A. Why did God see the need to test Abraham? We cannot know for sure, but we certainly see a different side of Abraham than when he repeatedly questioned God’s promises and seemed to doubt them before. B. Abraham believed God’s promises, so he could confidently answer “we will come back to you” (v. 5) • He knew that Isaac would be the one through whom God’s covenant would be fulfilled, so either: a. He did not think that God would make him go through with it & would provide a substitute (v. 8) b. He knew that if God had him kill Isaac, then God would have to bring him back to life. This is confirmed in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:17-19) III. Application • The account of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 illustrates our relationship with God and his provision for our salvation through Christ. Just as Abraham had to sacrifice his son, God was obligated to condemn us to death because of our sin, for sin can have no fellowship with God. But in Christ, he provided a substitute to atone for our sins, just as he provided a ram so that Isaac might be spared.

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