Imagine this: Hearing the clear voice of God telling you to sacrifice your only son, the son that you waited 25 years for! God promised Abraham when he was 75 years old that he would have descendants. That would require having at least one son. However, his wife Sarah, was barren at age 65. Surprisingly enough, God kept His promise and Isaac was born when Abe was 100 and Sarah was 90. An impossibility according to human standards, but we know that nothing is impossible with God. Subsequently, God tests Abraham’s faith in the most extreme manner possible. Let’s dig in…
Genesis 22 – God Tests Abraham’s Faith
Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, 7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide” or “Jehovah Jireh”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants (seed) beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. 18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then they returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live.Genesis 22 NLT
Points to Ponder
- Abraham did not question God at all. That’s not just faith, it’s ultimate trust.
- Abe somehow knew that God would provide. Even if he did kill Isaac, he probably thought that God would raise him from the dead. Abe knew it was a test of obedience. In verse 5, he tells his servants, “We will come right back.”
- When Isaac asked where is the sacrifice, his father replied, “God will provide.”
- It seems like Isaac complied with his father tying him up and putting him on the wood. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind.
- God stops him just in time and provides a ram caught in a thicket for the sacrifice.
- Isaac must have been relieved. We don’t know exactly how old Isaac was, but I think he may have been big enough to fight back, but he didn’t. Abe was over 100 years old? Isaac could have easily overpowered him, but he didn’t. That, too, is trust and obedience.
- God, then reaffirms and renews His covenant with Abraham and assures him that he’ll have many descendants. And, through Isaac’s seed, or lineage, Jesus will come to bless all the nations on earth because Abraham obeyed God.
- The “angel of the Lord” was probably the pre-incarnate Jesus. “The angel” says to Abraham, “You have not withheld from Me even your son, your only son.” Later the angel says, “Because you have obeyed Me…”
A Parallel and a Foreshadowing of Jesus
Here, God foretold the story of cross. Jesus, God’s only son, whom He loved, was sacrificed, crucified on the same mountain. Mt. Moriah is where Jerusalem was built. Let’s look at some New Testament scriptures that reflect this….
17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.Hebrews 11:17-19 NLT
18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT
Just as the ram was sacrificed in place of Isaac, Abraham’s beloved son, in the same way, Jesus, God’s only beloved Son was sacrificed in place of us.
God’s Beloved Son
In the Gospels, we see in several places where God, the Father states that Jesus is His beloved son.
21 One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”Luke 3:21-22 NLT
9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”Mark 1:9-11 NLT
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”Matthew 3:16-17
And at the Transfiguration, Matthew wrote…
5 But even as [Peter] spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”Matthew 17:5 NLT
How Strong is YOUR Faith?
Could you do what Abraham did? As we live in this fallen world, our faith is tested every day. Is what you watch, listen to or read something that God would approve of? Sometimes it’s a choice that you have to make. Do you ask God for guidance and wisdom with every choice — even the little ones? If God asked you to give up your sinful life and follow Him, would you?
It’s Your Choice
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
God So Loved the World
Thy Will Be Done
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)