GENESIS-SERIES NR 21 : Exam time!
Scripture : Genesis 22
In the Hebrew language the word for WORD and DEED is the same = DABAR! A word does not only mean something, it does something! A confession (words) does not mean anything unless it leads to deeds! A confession of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ is meaningless unless it is LIVED – because word and
deed are ONE. That is the distinct message of – for example – James 2. And
with Abraham it was true. The authenticity of the Lord’s covenant-relationship with Abraham could be seen in his conduct in life. It does not mean that he was without sin, but his spiritual life became more and more evident. We saw in our study of Genesis over the past weeks what school of life he was in.
And now it is exam time! Verse 1 clearly states that the Lord tested Abraham. It is a test to determine exactly where Abraham stood. His quality is to be
measured. And the heavenly Examiner sets a practical test – not in writing nor verbally! And yet the candidate who is being tested, is not merely a number. The Lord knows him personally. Listen how He calls him by name: Abraham!
And immediately Abraham answers: HERE I AM! Because faith-trust means to
experience a relationship with the Lord. It is a matter of word and answer! So much so that Abraham did not doubt that it was the Lord’s voice. He was
certain. And he was sensitive. It is like a NT-believer reading the Bible
(because that is where the Lord speaks) and is tuned in to hear the Lord!
Being a Christian is not for the faint-hearted – someone said. One should
calculate the cost before one becomes a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Abraham suddenly felt how the Lord’s conversation with him was turning into a moment-by-moment struggle. Verse 2 must have struck deep into his heart. Like a spear. The Examiner says: “Take your son, your only son whom you love,
and go to the region of Moriah, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering”.
Truly, that is an impossible thing to ask from this man! On top of that, Isaac
was exactly the axle around which the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham revolved and for whom he had waited for such a long time, and eventually
Isaac was born by a miracle. How on earth could God want to destroy Isaac? It just did not make any sense! It sounds mindless and heartless!
Incomprehensibly shocking! It was not only his son he had to place on the altar, but also his faith-trust! It was cross-bearing! It was self-denial! Not only for a few minutes! THREE DAYS of soul-destroying travel to Moriah! Abraham was not aware that he was busy with an exam. He did not have a Genesis 22:1 to
read. He did not know what God’s intention was. His faith-trust could so easily have turned into a questionmark. A questionmark of confusion.
But the believers’ walk with the Lord is something supernatural: “Early the next morning, Abraham got up and saddled his donkey, took his son Isaac, enough
wood for the burnt offering, and set out for the place God told him about”. He obeyed. He did not delay. He was asked to give up something, to give up his
only son. It is humanly impossible, but Abraham did it.
Where did that ability and willingness come from? Answer: It was the fruit of a miracle that the Lord performed in his heart. A miracle which is still being
performed in every person’s heart in whom the Holy Spirit lives. Abraham’s
obedience could not be ascribed to anything else but a work which the Lord
had done in his life!
I see a second miracle also: One would expect Abraham to be in a state of
tension and stress. But notice how strangely CALM he is. He must have had an inner assurance that the Lord knew what He was doing. He must have been
convinced that the Lord gave a promise in/through Isaac for the far distant
future, and that the Lord would make it come true in some way. Even if the
Lord had to resurrect Isaac from the dead!!
It is as if Abraham had complete confidence that the Lord would find a way
out. He was determined to kill and sacrifice Isaac. In Hebrews 11:17-18 the
Holy Spirit comments on Genesis 22. It says there that Abraham did indeed
sacrifice Isaac! And that he received Isaac back from the dead – so to speak.
Because he had the faith conviction that God could raise Isaac from the dead.
Therefore, he was determined to obey God right to the very end. Seen from
God’s point of view, Abraham DID indeed obey to the end.
But once again: WHERE did this calm determination and peace come from? It
is supernatural, is it not? How could Abraham tell his servant: “The boy and I
are going to worship”. WORSHIP??!! Abraham regards sacrificing his son as an opportunity to worship? He is on his way to worship and praise and exalt the Name of the Lord! He is on his way to profess the Lord as his God! His crisis is his worship opportunity. The way Paul and Silas used their imprisonment to openly sing hymns of praise (Acts 16). It looks as if trials/tests lead to
deepening of faith – in the case of the Lord’s people. Yes, to Abraham it truly was a way of the cross – but the Lord was involved in the matter all the way, and allowed everything to work out for his good so that, in the process, he
could grow in his relationship with the Lord.
Abraham was firmly of the opinion that the Lord himself was involved in the
situation – even if he could not understand how. Look how he answered Isaac’s question about where the lamb to be offered would come from: “God himself
will provide the lamb”. He could have answered: “YOU are the burnt offering”, or he could have fabricated some or other lie. But he was firmly convinced
that the Lord would provide in some way and that Isaac would NOT die. Or if he did die, that the Lord would raise him from the dead. Because: God
PROMISED. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Abraham had to hold onto that. The invisible promise of the Lord. Can you see what kind of mettle the Holy
Spirit builds into a believer’s heart? Everyone who belongs to God through
Jesus’ blood on the cross.
The confidence in God’s promise that the Spirit engraved into Abraham’s heart, was pure and true – Abraham had faith in the truth. And his eyes saw it. How do we know that? Because, as he raised his knife to slay his son – in absolute surrender to the Lord – God intervened and prevented it. And in the place of
Isaac, the Lord provided an animal to be sacrificed. The Lord knew that
Abraham was completely devoted. And that his heart was in the right place. Not that the Lord had to discover it as though there is something He does not
know. But that which God already knew, now became evident in practice. And
that is always important to the Lord: Not words and confessions, but DEEDS. A lifestyle of devotion and commitment – particularly there where there is no one to applaud.
The fear for God that Abraham had, was not because he was frightened of God or for fear of punishment. He did not travel to Moriah out of fear for
Fear of God means: Awe-inspiring love. A love with awe/respect. And that kind of love always shows in one’s deeds, choices and spontaneous walk of life. In
Abraham’s case he did not even withhold the child of the promise from the
Lord. There was not an area of his live that he withheld from the Lord.
Perhaps there is someone today who is agonizing and think: Will the Lord also provide for ME? Particularly when we observe that Abraham reached Moriah
despite everything. He HAD to get there. There was no other way. We do GET there! Come what may!!
Listen very carefully: When Abraham and Isaac arrived at Moriah, the LORD was already there. In the Hebrew, we notice that the word used for “Lord” is a completely different word to describe the Lord’s Name.
When Abraham was truly in the crisis – on the mountain – THEN the Lord
appeared to him with a different Name. When Abraham arrived at the mountain filled with inner doubt and distress with nothing that he could lean upon. Then
the LORD was there – with a different Name. The Hebrew word that is used
here for LORD, means “the Lord who particularly covenanted Himself to me”.
The God of the Covenant. The LORD, with a heart that beats for me. A heart
that understands me. A heart that looks at me with compassion. A heart that
does not desert me on Mount Moriah.
Yes, the Angel of the Lord was waiting for Abraham and Isaac on Mount
Moriah. Who is this? Who is this THE ANGEL (with the definite article)? It is Jesus himself, before He became human at Bethlehem. While they were setting
up the altar for the burnt offering, Jesus himself was in their crisis. He went
ahead of them. Because He himself, centuries later, would be sacrificed on
Calvary – mount Golgotha. The Father would in the end provide His own
sacrificial lamb – His own Son. And no one would intervene and prevent Him
doing it. He will go through with it to the end. That is why He provided for
Abraham on the mountain-of-crisis.
He is there in my distress and doubt. He will also be there in yours! How
do we know this with such assurance? Because He already provided on the
MOUNTAIN (Golgotha). He already provided His very best: His Son as
substitutionary atonement offering.
The greatest miracle of Genesis 22 is the fact that it is a distinct prophecy of
Jesus Christ – who would die at Golgotha many centuries later.
Genesis 22 abounds in preordained signs to Christ and the Gospel-message of
salvation by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. The fingerprints of the Lord’s Spirit appear so clearly in this chapter.
Just look at the following:
We already saw how “the Angel of the Lord” was the Lord Jesus before His
But look also at the following:
One hears the echo of the Gospel message in God’s instruction to Abraham:
“Take your son, your only son whom you love, and sacrifice him”. Precisely
what God the Father was going to do centuries later.
Isaac was to be sacrificed on a mountain. That brings Golgotha to mind. Indeed, Moriah mountain is the exact place where the temple was built years later, a
short distance from Golgotha. In the temple, animal sacrifices were to be
brought continuously as substituting atonement offerings between God and man. The temple was built on the exact place where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac. Moriah is therefore the temple-mountain in Jerusalem. It is the same place. Is
that not a thrilling prophetic word?
Isaac, who had to carry the wood for the burnt offering, was a prophetic
foreshadowing of Jesus who had to carry His cross to Calvary. He was the lamb just as Jesus was the Lamb of God.
Abraham’s words: “God himself will provide the lamb” were without a doubt
words which the Holy Spirit literally uttered through his mouth. It is almost a
summary of the entire message of the Bible: That man does not have to bring
offerings, because God has already done so in Christ.
The sacrificial animal that God provided to die in the place of Isaac, was a
symbol of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ in the place of sinners. It is the
sinner who is supposed to die, but then Jesus died that death, and bore the
Punishment and wrath of God. In the same way, Isaac came off the mountain
alive, because there was a substituting sacrifice for him.
And in that way God literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ the words of verse 14:
“On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided”.
But Isaac also was a prophetic foreshadowing to the Lord Jesus! Both were
“sons of God’s promise”. Both had supernatural births and were born out of
what God had promised. Both had to provide for Abraham’s descendants.
Descendants which God promised.
We find it strange that Isaac was so passive. He did not complain! He just
followed his father. He carried the wood on his shoulder. He did not protest. He allowed his father to bound him and lay him on the altar. He quietly submitted!
In that we hear the words of Isaiah who prophesied about the coming of Jesus and said that He would be led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53). Jesus’
complete submission to the will of His Father.
Isaac was “dead” and resurrected and returned to his father (Heb 11:19). The
principles of death and resurrection can clearly be seen here.
We can be absolute sure that our Bible is the reliable, authoritative, inerrant,
inspired Word of God. Only the true God alone can speak the future thousands of years in advance AND fulfill and make it true in the finest detail!
Translated by Marthie Wilson