Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 21 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Genesis 22 today, and our focus is on an initially bewildering episode in the life of Abraham – the day that God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Thank you for joining us for Bible 2021! We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Saskatchewan, Canada, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Charleston, South Carolina, Kansas City, Missouri, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Thanks for listening! Our focus this year is on DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!
Today we are reading Genesis 22 – a monumental event in the life of Abraham that is shocking, at least on the surface. Now Abraham and his wife Sarah were very old, as we read in our chapter yesterday, and even though God had promised to make Abraham into a great nation, this promise seemed to be very jeopardized, because Abraham was in his 90s, and he and his wife did NOT have any children! As you might imagine, it is difficult to have descendants that number as much as the visible stars in the sky if you are in your 90s and don’t have a SINGLE CHILD YET! So, understandably, Abraham and his wife are struggling with this promise. But God has a conversation with Abraham and Sarah, and promises them that they will indeed have a physical child. Sarah scoffs at this being a possibility, given her age, but God’s word is proven true, and shockingly, Sarah is pregnant and delivers the child of the promise, Isaac, who would be the father of Israel both literally and metaphorically.
So – great, amazing and wonderful faith-building story, right?! What a wonderful testimony to the goodness of God…except, Genesis 22 records a stupefying event in the life of Abraham. Here it is:
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” he said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 3 So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. Genesis 22:1-3
Now, we know that the Bible does NOT tell us every conversation and every detail in the life of those mentioned in the Bible, but I need to tell you that I have a lot of questions about what went on between vs. 2 and vs. 3. Did Abraham question God? Did he balk? Did he argue? Did he talk to Sarah about it? SO MANY QUESTIONS! I’d love to know what Abraham said, and many other details of this incident, but the biggest and most important question is WHY!? Why would God ask Abraham to do this thing that He clearly forbids in other places? Let’s read the passage and see if we can find any clues.
Well – did you see the answer to our big question? Really – you missed it? Actually…no, you didn’t miss it at all, because the Bible does not, at least in this passage, answer our question of why God did this. And you know what? That’s not terribly surprising. The whole purpose of the Bible is NOT to answer our every question, but to point to Jesus – the source of salvation and eternal life. That said, I do think we can do some pretty good Bible-informed speculating about the answer to this question, and to do so, let’s turn to our friends at Gotquestions.org, who give several reasons that God tested Abraham in this way:
God’s command to sacrifice Isaac was to test Abraham’s faith. God’s tests prove and purify our faith. They cause us to seek Him and trust Him more. God’s test of Abraham allowed His child—and all the world—to see the reality of faith in action. Faith is more than an inner spiritual attitude; faith works (see James 2:18)…
God’s command to sacrifice Isaac was to reveal God as Jehovah-Jireh. On the way up the mountain to the place of sacrifice, Isaac inquired as to the animal to be sacrificed, and his father said, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). After God’s provision of a ram to take Isaac’s place on the altar, “Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide” (verse 14). Thus we have another character-revealing name of God: Yahweh-Yireh.
God’s command to sacrifice Isaac was to foreshadow God’s sacrifice of His own Son. The story of Abraham prefigures the New Testament teaching of the atonement, the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus on the cross for the sin of mankind. Here are some of the parallels between the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Christ:
• “Take your son, your only son, whom you love” (Genesis 22:2); “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).
• “Go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there” (Genesis 22:2); it is believed that this same area is where the city of Jerusalem was built many years later. Jesus was crucified in the same area that Isaac had been laid on the altar.
• “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac” (Genesis 22:6); Jesus, “carrying his own cross,” walked to Calvary (John 19:17).
• “But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7); John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
• “God himself will provide the lamb” (Genesis 22:8); Jesus is likened to a spotless lamb in 1 Peter 1:18–19 and a slain lamb in Revelation 5:6.
Many centuries after God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). This is a reference to Abraham’s joy in seeing the ram caught in the thicket in Genesis 22. That ram was the substitute that would save Isaac’s life. Seeing that ram was, in essence, seeing the day of Christ, the Substitute for all of us.
I think that last reason is the main and primary reason that God called Abraham to sacrifice his son, and then stopped him – it is meant to be shocking – WHO WOULD SACRIFICE THEIR SON FOR ANY REASON? And the answer to that question is God would, and His reason is love for humanity, and that is even more startling, when you get down to it, then anything that happens in Genesis 22.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
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