And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. — Genesis 22:18
Our seven-year-old daughter took the twenty-dollar bill that I handed her as we were walking through the toy department of a Fred Meyer store. Her eyes sparkled, and I knew she felt really important. She had never been responsible for a twenty-dollar bill before, so she listened attentively as I gave her instructions on what she was to do with it. She needed to choose a small birthday gift for a friend and some crayons for school. She could use part of the leftover money on a piece of candy for herself, and the rest was to be given back to me. That part, I could tell, did not excite her. It was clear that she wished she could spend all the leftover money on more than one piece of candy and maybe even a toy for herself! But I remained resolute, and encouraged her to follow the instructions given. I knew this was an important lesson in obedience and not giving in to temptation.
In today’s text, God gave Abraham an opportunity to be obedient in a much more heart-rending matter than spending a twenty-dollar bill. God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, his son, who was born miraculously when his wife, Sarah, was decades past childbearing age. God did not send this test to trip Abraham and make him fall. Rather, it was a trial of his spiritual loyalties, designed to confirm his willingness to obey. And Abraham passed the test, promptly demonstrating his intention to follow through to the end of the ordeal. Through his obedience, Abraham proved that he trusted God completely. That pleased God and caused Him to reaffirm the promise that He had made to Abraham earlier in his life.
Often, we also are faced with situations that allow us to prove whether we will be obedient. We know that God wants us to obey Him, yet at times our own desires or reasoning may pull us in a different direction. This is where we are tested. Will we follow what God wants for us, or will we pursue our own way? God wants us to trust Him and let Him accomplish His will for us. We can only do that if we practice yielding to Him every day.
The enemy of our souls would like to minimize the importance of obedience to God — especially prompt obedience. However, God loves and rewards one who is determined to follow Him at any cost. Will you do things God’s way today?
This text recounts an extreme test for both Abraham and Isaac. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son of promise.
The word tempt in verse 1 is a translation of the Hebrew word nissah, which means “to test; to prove; or to put on trial.” It does not mean to entice to evil.
This is the first mention in Scripture of Mount Moriah. This mountain is not a single peak, but rather an elongated ridge located in the area which would one day become Jerusalem, about forty-two miles from Beersheba where Abraham was living. Mount Moriah is the location of Ornan the Jebusite’s threshingfloor which David purchased, and is where Solomon later built the Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1). Today the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic holy place, is located there.
Scholars are unanimous in recognizing how heart-wrenching this occasion was for Abraham. Hebrews 11:19 gives the insight that he believed God could raise Isaac from the dead, but faith would not have overshadowed the pain. Added to the emotional cost, there would have been a moral and intellectual struggle as well. Sacrificing his son would have been a poor testimony to the surrounding pagan community, it contradicted the promises of God, and it would have been a terrible blow to Sarah, who had waited so long for this son.
Isaac also exemplified faith. Although his age at this time is unknown, many scholars believe he was between twenty-five and thirty-six years old. Since he was able to carry the wood for the sacrifice (verse 6), he likely could have overpowered his father who was one hundred years older than he.
When Isaac asked about the lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham’s response in verse 8 illustrated faith, but it was also prophetic. “My son, God will provide himself a lamb” looked ahead to Jesus, God’s only Son, who would be sacrificed for the sins of the world.
When the knife was poised above Isaac, and it was clear that Abraham was determined to obey God completely, the angel spoke. Through God’s unfailing provision, a ram was caught in a thicket nearby, and it was sacrificed instead of Isaac. A restatement of God’s promise of blessing was given, and Abraham and Isaac traveled home together.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
4. The sacrifice of Isaac (22:1-19)
Abraham’s obedience was prompt and complete, and it was rewarded with God’s blessing. Will we take each test that comes our way and choose to obey God? If we do, our blessings will also be far too many to number.