When Isaac grew up, the Lord began to test Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. The passage gives in detail about Abraham’s decision in response to God’s words. This event teaches us that faith may involve doing and obeying God’s command that contradict to our personal interests.
Did You Know...?
- Moriah (22:2) is probably considered as one of the hills of Jerusalem. Here, Solomon’s temple was built, on the site that had been the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite (2 Sam 24:24, 25;
2 Chr 3:1). The exact location of the land of Moriah is probably north-east side and it is separated by the Tyropoean valley. [ref]
- Offer him as a burnt offering (22:2): The practice of offering human sacrifices predominated among the early Chaldeans and Canaanites. [ref]
- “By Myself I have sworn” (22:16): The oath of God in this manner is spoken limited only to Abraham, the prophet Isaiah and the prophet Jeremiah (Isa 45:23; Jer 22:5, 49:13).
- Bethuel (22:23) in Hebrew can literally be translated as “man of God.”
Why did God test Abraham?
The Scriptures mention the purposes of the test of God to His people. In Exodus 16:4, the Lord tested the Israelites to see whether they would walk according to God’s law or not. The book of Deuteronomy also records that God tested His people for the purpose of knowing what was in their heart—whether they would keep God’s commandments or not (Deut 8:2;
2 Chr 32:31). Apart from knowing the content of the heart, the book of Deuteronomy states that God tested the Israelites to see whether they loved God with all their heart and all their soul or not (Deut 13:3). Finally, the book of Deuteronomy 8:16 clearly explains that God tested the Israelites for the purpose of doing them good in the end.
How did God test Abraham’s relationship with Isaac? What was the prevailing contrast between Abraham’s feeling and God’s command?Hide Answer
In the book of Genesis 22:2, God saw that Abraham loved Isaac his only son. Then God gave Abraham a contrasting command, that is, to offer Isaac as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which God was to tell him. Such a command served as a great contrast to what Abraham was feeling for Isaac. First, to offer Isaac as a burnt offering meant Abraham’s only son would not be with him after the sacrifice. Second, to offer Isaac meant Abraham must kill the son whom he loved.
In spite of the conflict of interest, how did Abraham respond to God’s command?Hide Answer
In replying to God’s command to offer his only son, Abraham did not hesitant. Abraham rose early in the morning to make the necessary preparations for the burnt offering. Then Abraham and his son went to the place which God had told him.
What did Abraham say to his young men regarding the journey? And what did Abraham say to Isaac in reply to his question of the burnt offering?Hide Answer
In Genesis 22:5, Abraham said to his young men to stay with the donkey while he and his son would go yonder and worship and they would come back to them. Later in Genesis 22:8, to reply Isaac’s question of the burnt offering, Abraham explained that God would provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.
What can we learn about faith from Abraham’s reply to the young men and to Isaac? See also Heb 11:17-19.Hide Answer
From Abraham’s saying to his young men, we notice his words of faith. Abraham said that he and his son would go worship and would come back to the young men (Gen 22:5). Abraham did not tell the young men that Isaac would be killed and offered as the burnt offering. The writer of Hebrews tells us that by faith Abraham offered up Isaac, concluding that God was able to raise Isaac up even from the dead (Heb 11:19). Moreover, the writer of Hebrews also emphasizes that Abraham offered up Isaac without any delay due to his belief in the promise of God that in Isaac, Abraham’s seed would be called (Heb 11:18).
Next, from Abraham’s reply to Isaac’s question, we also see Abraham’s firm belief. Instead of telling Isaac that he was the burnt offering, by faith Abraham said that God would provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering (Gen 22:8). Not only did Abraham believe in God’s power to raise the dead, but he also believed in God’s providence in the time of need. At the end, God learned about Abraham’s faith and He provided Abraham with a ram in place of Isaac (Gen 22:13).
Through Abraham’s personal struggle, we learn that sometimes doing God’s will is contradictory to our personal will. But the challenge is whether we have the faith to do it and to trust in His promise. Through Abraham’s deeds, we learn that having faith is not just a plain belief to God’s power but also acting and showing our deeds to do His command even if it is not according to our wish.
What can we learn from Isaac’s obedience in letting himself be bound for a burnt offering?Hide Answer
The book of Genesis 22:6-7 tells us that not only did Isaac have the strength to carry the wood of the burnt offering all by himself, Isaac also had the knowledge of a sacrificial burnt offering to the Lord. Isaac could have chosen to run away or even struck Abraham when he was about to be bound upon the wood for a burnt offering. But he chose to obey and to let himself be sacrificed. He obeyed both Abraham, his father, and the Lord, who had commanded his father regarding the burnt offering.
Isaac’s obedience teaches us the meaning of a complete submission to God’s will. His submission was even to the point of laying down his life as a sacrificial burnt offering to the Lord. Isaac’s complete submission is similar to the Lord Jesus’ in terms of giving up His own life on the cross. The book of Hebrews tells us that the Lord Jesus has offered His body as a sacrifice for sins forever (Heb 10:10-12) and the epistle of the Philippians also mentions that the Lord Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:8). The keys to the Lord Jesus’ obedience that we can emulate are: humility (Phil 2:8), no selfish ambition (Phil 2:3) and make oneself of no reputation (Phil 2:8).
In addition, Isaac’s obedience was also influenced by Abraham’s faith. As Isaac’s father, Abraham played a crucial part in showing his son the meaning of faith, trust and reliance on the Lord’s promise. In showing his obedience and trust to God’s command through deeds, Abraham became an example to his son’s obedience to the Lord. Thus, Isaac’s obedience reminds us that we have an obligation to be examplaries in proving our faith through our deeds to the next generations.
How was the act of God in intervening the slaying of Isaac for a burnt offering viewed by: God;Hide Answer
When Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son, the Angel of the LORD said to Abraham, “For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Gen 22:12). Through Abraham’s deeds in giving Isaac to God, God knew that Abraham had passed His test (Gen 22:1-2) and that Abraham feared the LORD.
When Isaac asked Abraham regarding the lamb for a burnt offering, Abraham answered him that God would provide for Himself the lamb (Gen 22:8). Later, God did provide him with a ram caught in a thicket by its horns so that Abraham could offer it up for a burnt offering instead of Isaac. Because of this, Abraham called the name of the place ‘The LORD will Provide’ (Gen 22:13-14). The act of God’s intervention strengthened Abraham’s faith and trust in God’s providence even more.
Isaac was a first-hand witness to the event of Abraham’s deeds and God’s intervention. Through God’s words in Genesis 22:12, Isaac learned from his father, Abraham, to put God first in life. Isaac witnessed how Abraham chose to obey the Lord’s command rather than withhold the only son whom he loved.
Share an experience where God has become a Provider in your desperate moment.(The answer is empty)Hide Answer
The only difference of God’s re-confirmed promise to Abraham is regarding Abraham’s obedience to God’s voice. Just as God had promised Abraham in Genesis 17:16 that all the nations of the earth would be blessed in Abraham’s seed, the Lord confirmed that promise again in Genesis 22:18–but now with the emphasis that such a blessing was due to Abraham’s obedience to God’s voice.
What can we learn today from such an emphasis?Hide Answer
The Lord values the one who hears and obeys His word. According to the writer of Hebrews, the Lord gives life to those who obey Him (Heb 12:9). Moreover, the apostle Peter also says that God’s people are elected and sanctified in the Spirit for obedience (1 Pet 1:2).
From Genesis 22:17-18, Abraham’s test and obedience goes hand in hand. Just as God tested Abraham to see his obedience to God’s words, today God tests us for our obedience in Him. The letter of James tells us that the Lord has promised the crown of life to those who love Him, who endure the temptation (Jas 1:12). Furthermore, the apostle John shares with us the words of the Lord Jesus, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). In other words, the one who endures the test shows his love to God. Therefore, hearing and obeying God’s words represent an intimate relationship of our love to the Lord.
What was the significance of the narrative in Genesis 22:20-24?Hide Answer
The narrative provides information for Abraham about the news of his family. The news-bearer updated Abraham about the well-being of Nahor, his family and his descendants. Without this information, it would have been difficult for Abraham to know more about his family. Thus, this information gave Abraham a preparation to select a future spouse for Isaac from his own people instead of the Canaanites.
From the reader’s perspective, the mention about Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel (Gen 22:23), gives us an insight that she will soon become the wife of Isaac in Genesis 24. Therefore, the information from the news-bearer also serves as a proof of God’s providence even in preparing a future wife for Abraham’s seed.