A PICTURE OF REDEEMING
Abraham ranks among the greatest of
men portrayed in the Bible. His life story is recorded in
Genesis 11 - 25. That is over twice the space used to tell
the story of creation and all history previous to Abraham.
His son, Isaac, his grandson, Jacob, and his great grandson,
Joseph are the primary themes of the rest of Genesis. The
bulk of all following Scripture is dominated by Abraham's
Two great peoples refer to Abraham as
their father,---the people of Israel and the Arabs. Israel
descended from Abraham through Isaac. The Arabs descended
through Ishmael and Esau, a son of Isaac who married a daughter of
Abraham stands alone as being referred
to as "the friend of God". James 2:23 quoting 2nd
Chronicles 20:7 and Isaiah 41:8. The apostle Paul also
refers to Abraham as "the father of all who believe".
The climactic experience in the life
of Abraham came to pass when God ordered him to sacrifice his son,
Isaac, on Mount Moriah. "Take now your son, your only son
Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him
there as a burnt offering..." Genesis 22:2. The
faith and obedience of Abraham shines brightly in this story.
It will be most helpful if we first consider:
THE GROWTH OF ABRAHAM'S FAITH
"Now it came to pass after these
things that God tested Abraham. . ." Genesis 22:1.
Abraham (originally named Abram) began his spiritual journey with
God by faith. Abraham lived in the land we know as Iraq "and
served other gods." (See Joshua 24:2) The
LORD spoke to Abraham, "Get out of your country, from your
family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show
you." Genesis 12:1. Abraham's faith provided the
motivation that enabled him to obey God. "By faith
Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he
would receive as an inheritance. . ." Hebrews 11:8.
ABRAHAM'S FAITH WAS TESTED MANY
God tests our faith in order to
exercise and strengthen it. These tests also reveal the
level we have attained in faith and the point at which our faith
begins to fail.
When Abraham had journeyed into the
central part of Canaan the LORD spoke, "To your descendants I
will give this land." Genesis 12:7. Abraham built
an altar and worshipped God. His faith remained intact.
Abraham journeyed to the south of
Canaan and was shocked to find himself in a severe famine.
Did he have faith to believe he could find sufficient provision
somewhere in the land God called him to dwell. No. His
faith failed and he went down to Egypt. While there he
became aware that Pharaoh's princes had praised his wife's beauty
to Pharaoh. Abraham was giving a correct assessment of
current culture when he said to Sarai, ". . .You are a woman of
beautiful countenance. . .when the Egyptians see you. . .they will
say, 'This is his wife', and they will kill me, but they will let
you live. Please say you are my sister. . .'"
Genesis 12:11-13. Abraham could excuse himself with the fact
that Sarai was his half-sister, but he communicated a lie.
Faith to believe God would protect him had departed. Sadly,
this experience would be repeated at a later time and a different
place. (See Genesis 20:1-14).
Abraham continued to be tested in
various ways. For many years his most difficult test was to
continue to believe that God would give him a son. When God
called Abraham to go to the land of Canaan one of His promises
was, "I will make you a great nation...And in you all the
families of the earth will be blessed." Genesis 12:2,3.
As we have already noted God reinforced this promise with such
statements as "To your descendants I will give this land."
Genesis 12:7. Abraham's anticipation of that son through
whom God's promises would be fulfilled began to grow. Later,
God would add this emphasis, ". . .All the land which you
see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will
make your descendants as the dust of the earth. . ."
However, years passed by and Abraham's
wife, Sarai, was unable to conceive a child by him. Abraham
complained, "LORD God, what will You give me, seeing I go
childless. . .?" God reaffirmed His previous promises by
showing Abraham the stars of heaven and saying, "So shall your
descendants be." Genesis 15:5. Abraham's response
was of such significance that it is quoted three times in the
fourth chapter of Romans, "And he believed in the LORD< and He
accounted it to him for righteousness." (See Romans 4:3,
9, 22). This was followed by a prescribed sacrifice and a
night vision in which God revealed Abraham's descendants would
dwell in Egypt four hundred years before they would return and
possess the land.
What immediately followed was
Abraham's most regrettable and damaging lapse of faith. The
test came from the most unexpected source. . .Abraham's beloved
wife, Sarai. She had been experiencing growing feelings of
failure. She saw herself as the obstacle that was preventing
God from giving Abraham a son. "So Sarai said to Abram,
'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children.
Please, go in to my maid (Hagar); perhaps I shall obtain children
by her'. And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai."
It was eleven years after God promised
to give Abram descendants that Abraham became the father of a son.
He was to find out that what he had done was not what God had in
mind. When Abram was ninety-nine years old and Sarai was
eighty-nine God changed their names to Abraham (father of a
multitude) and Sarah (Princess). God expanded the covenant
He had made with Abraham and said in regard to Sarah, "And I
will bless her and also give you a son by her...and she shall be a
mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her."
Genesis 17:16. To this God added, ". . .Call his name
Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting
covenant, and with his descendants after him." Genesis
To fulfill His promise to Abraham God
restored Abraham and Sarah "to the time of life." Genesis
18:10, 14. Some interesting evidence is found of this in
Genesis 20. The king of Gerar, by the name of Abimelech,
beheld 89 year old Sarah to be such a ravishing beauty that he
felt a powerful compulsion to add her to his harem. Once
again, God intervened.
After Isaac was born God confirmed to
Abraham, "...in Isaac your seed shall be called,"
Genesis 21:12. Abraham's faith was now ready for the
THE TRIUMPH OF ABRAHAM'S FAITH
After a happy and peaceful time in
Beersheba the voice of God called again, "Abraham!"
Abraham quickly responded, "Here I am".
GOD'S NEW ORDERS FOR ABRAHAM.
"Take now your son, your only son
Isaac, whom you love..." Isaac was the fruit of
God's promise; the son produced by a miraculous restoration of
life; the son for which Abraham earnestly longed for
twenty-five years, and the son conceived by Abraham's beloved
Sarah whose womb had been barren for eighty-nine years.
"...And go to the land of Moriah..." Moriah was a
mountain in the central part of Canaan that ran north and south.
A valley named Kedron separated it from the Mount of Olives.
The ancient city of Jebus was built on Moriah. We are
informed in 2nd Chronicles 3:1 that it was the mountain upon which
Solomon built the Temple.
"...And offer him there as a burnt offering..." This
meant that an altar of sacrifice would need to be built and
sufficient wood be placed on the altar to fully burn Isaacs body.
It also meant that Abraham must carry a sharp knife to cut Isaac's
jugular vein and fire to set the wood burning.
ABRAHAM'S PROMPT OBEDIENCE.
"...So Abraham rose early in the
morning..." Abraham's obedience was punctual. He
voiced no protest; asked no questions and made no whimper.
He moved quickly and purposefully to split the wood; saddle his
donkey and load up the necessary supplies. He selected two
young men to accompany him and Isaac.
THREE DAYS JOURNEY.
This was how long it took to travel on
foot from Beersheba to Mt. Moriah. The most remarkable thing
about these four men was their silence. Abraham was in no
mood for small talk and the others followed his lead.
However, there were deep thoughts coursing through the mind of
Abraham. He must obey God's command. He could see
himself cutting Isaac's jugular and his life blood flowing freely.
He could see himself lighting the wood and the fire consuming the
sacrifice until there was nothing left but ashes...and then he
could see Isaac being miraculously raised back to life. How
can we be so bold as to make such a statement? Because
Abraham believed that God must faithfully keep His promises.
God had promised Abraham: "And I will bless her (Sarah)
and give you a son by her...and she shall be a mother of nations;
kings of peoples shall be from her."
". . .I will establish My covenant with Him (Isaac) for an
everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him."
This meant that Isaac must live for all the promises of God's
covenant with Abraham to be fulfilled. To settle all doubts
God gave this New Testament revelation: "By faith
Abraham...offered up Isaac...his only begotten son, of whom it was
said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called, concluding that God was
able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also
received him in a figurative sense'" Hebrews 11:17, 18
EXPRESSIONS OF ABRAHAM'S FAITH.
"Abraham said to his young men,
'Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder
and worship and we will come back to you.'" 22:5.
Isaac said to his father, "Look, the fire and the wood, but
where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham
answered, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a
burnt offering." The comment of Jesus regarding this
was, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it
and was glad." Abraham saw what John the Baptist saw
when he officially introduced Jesus to Israel, "Behold!
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
After God provided a ram to offer up
to God "instead of his son" Abraham called the name of the place
"Jehovah-Jireh", meaning "The LORD will Provide" and Moses added
these words five hundred years later when he wrote Genesis, "as
it is said to this day, 'In the Mount of the LORD it shall be
provided.'" The only thing that can be meant is, "In the
Mount of the LORD God will provide for Himself the Lamb for an
offering." In 30 A.D. when the Passover lamb was being
prepared Jesus was taken to Calvary located on the northern
portion of Mount Moriah. As He hung on a cross God provided
for Himself the Lamb of God to be an offering for the sins of the
world. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just
for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death
in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit" 1st Peter
Copyright © 2002
Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.