Gen. 22:1-18  Temptation 

            Gen. 22:1 "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am."  It is sometimes argued that this scripture contradicts the scripture in James 1:13: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:" However, it should be noted in James 1:13 that the subject is temptation with evil.  God does not tempt any man with evil.  God, however, does "test" his people from time to time.  This passage involves God testing (tempting) Abraham's faith.  Will Abraham believe God and respond with obedience to the command of God, or will Abraham disbelieve God and respond by disobeying the command of God?

            Faith involves some things that we know and some things that we do not know.  We walk by faith by taking heed to the things we know and trusting that God will lead us to do what is best in our lives.  What Abraham knew in this passage is that God had promised that "in Isaac shalt thy seed be called."  God had promised to multiply the seed of Abraham to become a great multitude and that his seed would be a blessing to all nations, and to all families of the earth.  This promise of the blessings of the seed involved the seed coming through Isaac. 

            v. 2: "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, 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."  Some have argued that this is an error in the scriptures, when it says that God told Abraham to take his only son and offer him for a burnt offering.  They say that Abraham had two sons at this time.  It is true that Abraham had two sons and that he loved both sons.  However, Abraham had only one "son of promise."  Isaac was Abraham's only son of promise.  Isaac was the promised son through which the seed of Abraham would come.  Abraham knew that Isaac was his only son of promise.  This is the important thing that Abraham knew about this testing.  No doubt, Abraham reasoned that if he offered Isaac as a burnt offering, then God would raise him from the dead as God had promised to bring through Isaac the promised seed.  Thus, Abraham had something he knew: Isaac was the son of promise and he knew what God had promised concerning Isaac.  What Abraham did not know at this time was how God would bring the events to pass and just where the offering was to take place.

            v. 3: "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him."  If Abraham had not known the covenant promise of God, then he most likely would have been very reluctant to take Isaac and offering him as a burnt offering.  Most likely, he would have rebelled against the commandment of God.  However, Abraham rose early in the morning to obey God.  He was anxious to obey God, because he knew the covenant promise of God and that God could not lie.  Therefore, he fully expected to see Isaac rise from the dead.  Similarly, we like Isaac, are children of promise: Gal. 4:28 "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise."  God has promised eternal life to us by a covenant he made before the world began: Rom. 8:29, 30 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."  Just as Abraham was convinced of Isaac's resurrection and did not fear death for Isaac, so we should be convinced of our resurrection based on the covenant promise of God and not fear the death of our bodies.

            v. 4: "Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off."  God revealed to Abraham the place for the burnt offering.  Remember God had told Abraham to offer Isaac upon one of the mountains that "I will tell thee of."  Abraham had set out without knowing all the details beforehand.  This is a part of walking by faith: Trusting that the Lord will make things known in His good time.  Because Abraham did not know the place beforehand, he also did not know how long it would take to get there. 

            Some have thought that Isaac was a type of Christ until he got to the top of the mountain and then the ram became a type of Christ.  However, I differ from that view as I believe Isaac was a type of the elect child of God throughout the whole episode.  Isaac was a child of promise, just like we (the elect family of God) are children of promise.  Isaac was plagued with the same problem that we are plagued with.  He was a sinner just as we are sinners.  For Isaac to be a fit subject of heaven, something must be done about his sins.  Likewise, something had to be done about our sins before we could become fit subjects of heaven.  Isaac was deserving of punishment, just like we are deserving of punishment. 

            v. 5: "And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."  This verse tells us that Abraham fully expected that both Abraham and Isaac would come down from the mountain.  I also point out that Abraham was to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.  This involved the burning of the body.  Isaac's body would have been fully burned.  Yet Abraham fully expected that God could and would resurrect his body from this condition. 

            v. 6: "And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together."  When it comes to the punishment of sin we are deserving of each of us bearing our own burden.  Isaac was bearing his burden up the mountain.  However, according to the mercy of God, Christ bore our burden on the cross of Calvary that we would not have to bear it.

            v. 7: "And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"  The custom of the day for making an offering was to take a lamb and slay it and offer it as a burnt offering.  Isaac asked his father as there was no visible sign of a lamb for a burnt offering.

            v.8: "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together."  Obviously Abraham had not yet told Isaac that he intended under the commandment of God to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.  Yet Abraham was honest in his answer that God would provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.  It is just that Abraham thought at the time that Isaac was the lamb to be slain.  However, Abraham's statement would soon be fulfilled just as he said it.

            v.9, 10: "And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.  And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son."  Abraham, acting by faith, proceeded to do what God had commanded him to do.  He fully expected to take the life of Isaac, believing that God would raise him from the dead.  We read of this in Heb. 11:17-19 "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."  This passage in Hebrews chapter 11 summarizes the story of our passage up to this point.

            v. 11, 12: "And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.  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."  As we consider Abraham's faith that is illustrated in this passage, we see another element of that faith.  That element is that Abraham feared God.  This was not a fear of terror, but rather a fear of great respect.  Fearing God is an evidence that one is born of the Spirit of God.  One of the characteristics of one who is under the law of sin and death (not born of the Spirit) is that he does not fear God: Rom. 3:18: "There is no fear of God before their eyes."  The evidence that Abraham feared God is that he withheld not his own son from God.

            v. 13: "And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son."  God showed to Abraham in this verse, the principle of substitutionary atonement.  The ram was offered as a substitute for Isaac.  This is a type of Christ being a substitute for the elect family of God.  The ram with his horns caught in a thicket is akin to Christ being caught up in a covenant promise.  Of course, in the covenant of redemption, Christ is the one who justified those that God foreknew.  In the above picture, instead of Isaac being offered, the ram was offered in his stead.  Likewise, instead of the elect family of God suffering eternal punishment, Jesus suffered that punishment for us on the cross in our room and stead. 

            v. 14: "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen."  The word, Jehovahjireh, means Jehovah will see to it.  The word, Jehovah, refers to God as a covenant making, covenant keeping God.  God, as a covenant making, covenant keeping, God sees to it that we (the elect family of God) are justified from our sins.  He did this by taking our sins upon himself and suffering the wrathful judgment of God because of our sins. 

            v. 15-18: "And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."    In the above passage of scripture God makes an oath.  We read of this in Heb. 6:13-18:"13 "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. 17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:"  God made a covenant promise to Abraham and then he confirmed the promise with an oath.  These are the two immutable things referred to (his covenant promise and his oath).  The word immutable simply means unchangeable.  One of the characteristics of God is that he cannot lie.  Thus, there is perfect assurance that what God promised, God will fulfill. 

            The promise made to Abraham in our passage is the following:

                        1.  Abraham would be blessed.

                        2.  Abraham's seed would be multiplied as the sand upon the sea shore and as the stars of heaven.  One thing that the sand upon the sea shore and the stars of heaven have in common is that they are innumerable.  Thus, the seed of Abraham would be increased to an innumerable host.  We are told in Gal. 3:16 that the seed of Abraham is Christ: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."  Therefore, the promise to Abraham is that the elect family of God, which is the multiplied seed of Abraham (Christ) is innumerable.

                        3.  Abraham's seed would posses the gate of his enemy.  In the scriptures, to possess the gate of ones enemy is to have the victory over the enemy.  We had as enemies, sin, death, hell, Satan, and the grave.  Christ gave us the victory over all our enemy.  He possessed the gate of our enemy.

                        4.  In the seed of Abraham all nations of the earth would be blessed.  This promised is restated to us in Rev. 7:9, 10: "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."  The elect family of God embraces a great multitude which no man can number and they are found in all nations of the earth, and all kindreds of the earth, and in all people of the earth, and in all tongues of the earth.  May God be glorified by all his people.

Gen. 22:19-24 Abraham's extended family

             Gen. 22:19 "So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. 20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; 21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother. 24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah."

            Sometimes we do not understand the genealogies of the scriptures.  Sometimes we get a little glimpse into their significance.  Regardless, we need to understand that God had a purpose for each genealogy in the scriptures, whether we understand why or not.  In the above we see that Bethuel and Rebekah will have a direct connection with Abraham in the future.  Rebekah will become the wife of Isaac and will bear twins to him named Esau and Jacob.  May God bless us with understanding as it pleases him.