Year of the Bible – Genesis 22

Epiphany - Genesis 22



I swear by myself . . . that because you have done this and have not withheld your son . . . I will surely bless you. – Genesis 22:17

A Test for Abraham: A command and a promise.

Genesis 22:1-25:18 (22:1-18)
Abraham obeyed God, but why and how? In the greatest test that faith has ever known, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, the son that he had waited all his married life to have. His love for Isaac knew no bounds. Born when Abraham was a hundred years old, it seems to this forlorn father that God’s request was impossible. But Abraham also had a promise from God. God had promised to him that he would be the father of great nations through this son, that his son would pass on the messianic promise of a savior. But how did Abraham know that God would fulfill His promise to Abraham? Abraham knew that he had to be righteous in the sight of God, but he could not be righteous because he was sinful. He was disobedient to God in thought, word and deed. But Abraham was righteous before God. In fact, he had been declared righteous by God, and Abraham has believed God’s promise. Through faith in this promise, Abraham received a faith that trusted God even though God’s command challenged every fiber of Abraham’s being. More-than-likely, Abraham did not realize how much love and faith he had for God, so God put Abraham’s faith to the test. Abraham was told to bring his son to a place that God would show him and demonstrate his love for God by offering his son as a sacrifice to God. God had already given to Abraham the promise that he would have descendants like the stars of the sky 
through his son. God had already worked the miracle of giving Abraham, an old man by then, and his wife Sarah, an old woman, the power to conceive and give birth to a son. Abraham knew that there would be nothing too hard or great for God. If God wanted him to give up his son into death, then God would have to raise him from the dead to fulfill his promise to Abraham. This is how faith and love work together. Faith trusts in God’s promises, and love desires to obey God’s commands because faith sees and grasps God’s love towards us. God declared to Abraham that he was righteous – so Abraham came to love God beyond all worldly things – even his own son. Abraham, trusting in God, went up to Mount Moriah to worship. He took his son, his only son, and placed him upon the altar and the wood. As he lifted up his knife, God’s angel stopped him. Abraham had passed the test of faith! His faith had generated such love in him, so great a love that Abraham was willing to give up his own son to God. In response to Abraham’s faith and love, God gave Abraham a SUBSTITUTIONARY sacrifice. Nearby, a ram had been caught in the bushes. God permitted Abraham to substitute the ram for his son. The place where Abraham offered his son, over 1,000 years later, came to be the site of the temple of Jerusalem. And upon the same rock that Abraham offered his son and the ram, God’s people offered their substitutionary sacrifices up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In this story of Abraham and Isaac we see the mystery of God’s Law and Gospel, the commands of God that tell us what to do, the promises of God that tell us what God so graciously has done and will do for us. When faith trusts in God’s righteousness, obtained for us by His Son, Jesus Christ, then good works of love flow from this faith. The deeper the gratitude for forgiveness, the deeper the love for God and the greater our ability to do the works that God commands us to do. But our story continues (24:1-66)
Sarah died at the age of 127 years. Abraham was also getting quite old, so the time came for Isaac to be married. A servant was sent back to the land of Abraham’s birth – not to the local peoples who were unbelievers. Abraham was certain that God’s angel would go with his servant to choose the right wife for his son. When the servant arrived in Mesopotamia he also prayed for success. He created a test – something that would demonstrate the good character of a prospective wife. Whoever helped him to water his camels would be God’s choice for a wife. A young woman did just that. She was extremely beautiful. It turned out that she was Isaac’s cousin! After some negotiations with her father, Rebekah volunteered to go with Isaac and become his wife. She was a woman of faith, a person who manifested her faith in her kind works of love. God richly blessed her and she brought great love and comfort to her new husband.
Questions – Genesis 2
  1. What request did God make of Abraham, something no father could seriously consider?
  2. What promise had God made to Abraham?
  3. What assurance did Abraham have that he was righteous before God?
  4. What is the relationship between faith and love?
  5. What kind of love does God want us to have for Him?
  6. How did God solve Abraham’s dilemma?
  7. How does that solution relate to our dilemma, that we must be righteous before God and pay for sin, but we cannot be righteous or pay for our sins?
  8. What two great doctrines of the Bible are clearly taught in this story
  9. What did Abraham do for Isaac when his wife died?
  10. What did Rebekah do to show that she was a woman of great faith?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week Three | Tuesday | Genesis 2 – © John W. Fiene