Abraham tested, 1-19
Gen 22:1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.
Some time later – ‘After these things’ (ESV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, AV, NKJV, HCSV, New Century Bible, etc.). After what things? ‘God’s plans for bringing good to the inhabitants of the world depend on Abraham (Gen 12:3). However, certain things have happened that give God reason to doubt Abraham, making it necessary to test him, to see if Abraham can bear the weight of that immense trust. Twice Abraham has let his wife Sarah go into the harem of a foreign king (Gen 12 and Gen 20); he did it to protect himself, evidently not trusting God to see them through their dangerous sojourns among foreigners. So what is at stake is not obedience merely but total mutual trust. The point of the test is to see whether Abraham trusts God even to the point of relinquishing the child on whom the blessing, the covenant, and his own happiness depend.’ (Ellen F. Davis)
‘No clearer illustrations of the wisdom of God ordering human lives can be found than in some of the scriptural narratives. Take, for instance, the life of Abraham. Abraham was capable of repeated shabby deceptions which actually endangered his wife’s chastity. (Gen 12:10-20) Plainly, then, he was by nature a man of little moral courage, altogether too anxious about his own personal security. (Gen 12:12-13 20:11) Also, he was vulnerable to pressure; at his wife’s insistence he fathered a child upon her maid, Hagar, and when Sarai reacted to Hagar’s pride in her pregnancy with hysterical recriminations he let Sarai drive Hagar out of the house. (Gen 16:5-6)
‘Plainly, then, Abraham was not by nature a man of strong principle, and his sense of responsibility was somewhat deficient. But God in wisdom dealt with this easygoing, unheroic figure to such good effect that not merely did he faithfully fulfill his appointed role on the stage of church history, as pioneer occupant of Canaan, first recipient of God’s covenant, (Gen 18:17) and father of Isaac, the miracle child; he also became a new man.
‘What Abraham needed most of all was to learn the practice of living in God’s presence, seeing all life in relation to him, and looking to him, and him alone, as Commander, Defender and Rewarder. This was the great lesson which God in wisdom concentrated on teaching him. “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Gen 15:1) “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless [single-eyed and sincere].” (Gen 17:1) Again and again God confronted Abraham with himself, and so led Abraham to the point where his heart could say, with the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you…God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps 73:25-26) And as the story proceeds, we see in Abraham’s life the results of his learning this lesson. The old weaknesses still sometimes reappear, but alongside there emerges a new nobility and independence, the outworking of Abraham’s developed habit of walking with God, resting in his revealed will, relying on him, waiting for him, bowing to his providence, obeying him even when he commands something odd and unconventional. From being a man of the world, Abraham becomes a man of God.
‘Thus, as he responds to God’s call, leaves home, and travels through the land which his descendants are to possess (Gen 12:7) -though not he himself, note: Abraham never possessed any more of Canaan than a grave (Gen 25:9-10) – we observe in him a new meekness, as he declines to claim his due precedence over his nephew Lot (Gen 13:8-9). We see also a new courage, as he sets off with a mere three hundred men to rescue Lot from the combined forces of four kings (Gen 14:14-15). We see a new dignity, as he deprecates keeping the recaptured booty, lest it should seem to have been the king of Sodom, rather than God most high, who made him rich (Gen 14:22-23). We see a new patience, as he waits a quarter of a century, from the age of seventy-five to one hundred, for the birth of his promised heir (Gen 12:4; 21:5). We see him becoming a man of prayer, an importunate intercessor burdened with a sense of responsibility before God for others’ welfare (Gen 18:23-32). We see him at the end so utterly devoted to God’s will, and so confident that God knows what he is doing, that he is willing at God’s command to kill his own son, the heir for whose birth he waited so long (Gen 22). How wisely God had taught him his lesson! And how well Abraham had learned it!’
Gen 22:2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
“Your son, your only, Isaac, whom you love” – Each description becomes more intense.
‘From Abraham the harrowing demand evokes only love and faith, certain as he is that the “foolishness of God” is unexplored wisdom.’ (Kidner)
The region of Moriah – This is the place where God halted the plague of Jerusalem and where Solomon built the temple, 2 Chron 3:1. In the vicinity was the place known in the NT as Calvary.
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering – ‘The biblical prophets and the laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus expressly forbid [the practice of child sacrifice], but that also implies that it continued to occur. In fact, the story of Abraham’s “sacrifice” of Isaac suggests that Abraham was familiar with human sacrifice and was not surprised by Yahweh’s demand. However, the story also provides a model for the substitute of an animal for a human sacrifice that clearly draws a distinction between Israelite practice and that of other cultures.’ (IVP Background Commentary)
Gen 22:3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
Gen 22:4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
‘Not one word is said about that emotion-filled three-day journey. What were Abraham’s thoughts? Did he pray: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me”?’ (ECB)
Gen 22:5 he said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
“We will worship and then we will come back to you” – An astonishing statement of faith, based on the promise of 21:12. According to Heb 11:17-19 Abraham believed that Isaac would resurrected.
The key to this extraordinary episode is surely in the Lord’s previous dealings with Abraham. From tentative beginnings, Abraham had learned profound love and obedience toward God. He is now ready for that love and obedience to be tested.
Gen 22:6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,
Gen 22:7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Gen 22:8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
Gen 22:9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
Gen 22:10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
Gen 22:11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.
Gen 22:12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
“Do not lay a hand on the boy” –
Gen 22:13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
Substitution, resurrection, obedience, meekness, sacrifice, faith.
‘The substitutionary purpose of the sacrifice is evident, and points forward to the sacrifice of Christ who died in our stead (Mark 10:45; Rom. 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:21; Titus 2:14).’ (Reformation Study Bible)
Gen 22:14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Gen 22:15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time
Gen 22:16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,”
‘For the NT…there is more to the sacrifice of Isaac than the supreme example of someone committing himself to obey God completely (Heb. 11:17–19); it is a picture of God’s sacrificial love. Just as Abraham gave his only son as a sacrifice, so the Father ‘did not spare his own Son’ for the world (Rom. 8:32; Jn. 3:16). In Isaac’s ready submission to Abraham’s will we see an image of the Son who said ‘Father … not my will, but yours be done’ (Lk. 22:42).’ (NBC)
Gen 22:17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,
“I will…make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore” – Many dispensationalists believe that God has two separate plans – a heavenly plan for the church, and an earthly plan for Israel. John Hagee interprets the present verse accordingly, understanding the ‘stars’ to represent the church, spiritual Israel, and the ‘sand on the seashore’ to represent the earthly nation of Israel. They co-exist; neither replaces the other. Hagee’s interpretation is fanciful and unwarranted. It is specifically undermined by Neh 9:23, where Nehemiah thanks God that the promise to Abraham had already been fulfilled, likening Jews, rather than Gentiles, to the stars in the sky. (See Sizer, Zion’s Christian Soldiers, p41f).
Gen 22:18 “and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Gen 22:19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
Nahor’s sons, 20-24
Gen 22:20 Some time later Abraham was told, “Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor:”
Gen 22:21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram),
Gen 22:22 “Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.”
Gen 22:23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milcah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor.
Gen 22:24 his concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.