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Scripture reading – Genesis 22-23

We cannot determine how many years passed between the close of Genesis 21 and the events recorded in Genesis 22. However, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Isaac was a young man and perhaps in his early twenties at this point in his life.  One thing is for sure; he was “the apple of his father’s eye” and the joy of his old age. Abraham’s task was to prepare his son to become not only the master of all he owned, but also the heir of God’s covenant that promised “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (12:3).

Genesis 22 – Faith Tested: Abraham Commanded to Sacrifice Isaac

Genesis 22 puts Abraham to the test, and God determined to prove his faith by commanding him to take Isaac (22:1-2), “and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (22:2).

With a spirit of submission, Abraham obeyed God. Early the next day, he set out on the journey with his son, bearing the wood he would use for “the burnt offering” (22:3). The trip from Beersheba (21:33) to the place where God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac was a three-day journey (22:2). Arriving at Moriah, Abraham instructed his servants to stay at the foot of the mountain. At the same time, he and Isaac went up the mount to worship, promising they would “come again” (22:5).

Placing the wood on his son, much like Jesus carried the beam of His cross, Abraham “took the fire in his hand, and a knife [symbols of judgment]; and they went both of them together” (22:6). Isaac questioned his father, “Where is the Lamb?” (22:7), and Abraham assured him, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (22:8). Two thousand years later, John the Baptist would answer Isaac’s question, pointing to Jesus Christ and saying, “Behold the Lamb” (John 1:29, 36).

We might wonder what emotions stirred in Abraham’s heart as he climbed the mountain, knowing he had been commanded to “take now thy son…whom thou lovest” (22:2) and sacrifice him (22:8-9). Arriving at “the place which God had told him,” Abraham built the altar, laid the wood in place, and “bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood” (22:9).

Faith, trust, and hope are readily identified in that event on Moriah. Abraham’s faith went beyond himself and focused on God to “provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (22:8). Isaac’s trust was evidenced in his submission to his father’s will, who placed him on the altar (22:9). Both Abraham and Isaac hoped (and believed) God would be faithful to His covenant promises and Isaac would be his father’s heir (Hebrews 11:17-19).

When “Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son…the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (22:11-12).

When Abraham looked up, he spied a ram “caught in a thicket by his horns,” and he took it and “offered him up for a burnt offering” in Isaac’s stead (22:13). Abraham “called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh,” meaning the LORD will provide (22:14).

What spiritual lessons did Abraham and Isaac take from this trial of faith?

Abraham learned how far he was willing to trust God and walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), even at the sacrifice of the one he loved. He and Isaac learned that God is there and will provide in the moment of trial and testing.

The LORD renewed His covenant with Abraham and said, “for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son…[therefore] I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven…18 And in thy seed [Isaac, and his lineage] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (22:16-18).

Genesis 23 – The Death of a Mother

“Sarah Died in Kirjatharba” (23:2)

Reminding us we are all sojourners in this world, we read, “Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (Genesis 23:1-2).

To my knowledge, Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age was given at her death. She has also been a model for godly women of all ages (1 Peter 3:1-6). Furthermore, spiritually she is the mother of all believers. Her loving submission to Abraham as the head of her household demonstrated her enduring love and commitment to him and her God.

To honor his wife with a proper burial, Abraham purchased land on which there was a cave (23:3-20).  That cave in Macpelah would be a tomb for Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, and his wife, Rebekah. Also, Abraham’s grandson Jacob and his wife Leah would be buried there.

Hebrews 11:11–1211 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Closing thoughts – Today’s Scripture reading was pivotal in the history of Israel as a people and nation. God had established his covenant with Abraham, the father of two sons. The LORD rejected Ishmael, the son of Hagar, and chose Issac, the son of Sarah and heir to God’s covenant promises. Yet, it was that son whom God commanded to be sacrificed and thus proving Abraham’s love and faith in the LORD. Isaac asked, “Where is the Lamb?”(Genesis 22:7), and he learned he was to be sacrificed.

Abraham passed the test of his faith, for he believed “God was able to raise him [Isaac] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:19). What was the meaning of that last statement? It is summed up in this: When Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice Isaac, he was already offered in his heart.

As God provided a substitute for Isaac, He has provided a sacrifice for us…Jesus Christ. Isaac was a type or picture of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist answered Isaac’s question two thousand years later and said, “Behold the Lamb” (Matthew 3:17).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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