Genesis 22

Genesis 22 has a very familiar story where God calls out to Abraham and asks him to “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you”.  It is interesting that God calls Isaac the ‘only’ son.  Abraham loves this boy and God has been clear that he is to be the father of a multitude of people.  So offering him as a sacrifice seems a bit counter to what God has promised.

So what does Abraham do?  In a word – he obeyed.  “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him”.  There was no argument.  There was no questioning.  There was no trying to figure out what God was up to.  Abraham got up and did what God had asked of him. Obedience really is that simple.  Abraham didn’t understand the reason for the mission – just the fact there was a mission and he was to follow it.

They went to the appointed place which was a three day journey.  And as they approached “Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar”.  This makes it even more amazing to see.  Abraham had three days to ponder and consider what God was doing.  He could have easily convinced himself that he had misheard the instructions.  The two young men with him could have been asked for their input and they would likely have said it was all a big mistake.  But Abraham stays the course.  He moves along on God’s plan.  And he goes to the place God had told him.

Abraham takes the boy after calling him to come and “bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood”.  He wasn’t in a trance or drunken stupor here.  He is intentional in obeying God.  And just as he “reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son”, an angel of the Lord called from heaven and stopped him, and provided a ram caught in the thicket nearby to serve as a burnt offering instead.  This is what obedience looks like.  And God gives some understanding of why this happened.  “Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore”.  It was a test to see how obedient Abraham would be, and he passed and God blessed him and his offspring as a result of that willingness to obey!

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