I think these two chapters are two of the most heart wrenching and important chapters of Genesis. God gives a son to Abraham and then God requires that Abraham give that son back to Him. What is God doing in these things?

The Promise of Isaac

With every year that passes the birth of a child to Abraham and Sarah is becoming both increasingly unlikely and increasingly miraculous. God specifically tells Sarah that their attempt to gain descendants without waiting upon the Lord’s promise to miraculously give Sarah a child was a failure. Ishmael is not the child of promise. Sarah, herself, would bear a child, even in her old age. Abraham believed the Lord and circumcised the males of his household as a sign of faith in the promise of God.

The Birth of Isaac

Though it wasn’t in our reading for today, Genesis 21:1-7 records the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac, the son God had promised to Abraham and Sarah.

The Sacrifice of Isaac

Genesis 22 is such an important chapter. It can be quite confusing. Would God really command a human sacrifice? Surely not! In fact, when God establishes His law with the Israelites (the descendants of Abraham) God specifically and expressly forbids child sacrifice. So what is God doing?

Notice the number of times God says something like “your son … your only son … whom you love.” If you are familiar with the Gospel you will realize that this account isn’t about Abraham or Isaac at all. It is God telling us something about Himself:

  • God will provide. I love how Abraham so simply tells Isaac, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
  • Salvation requires sacrifice. Remember that the just punishment for sin is death. The only hope to escape death is if there is a substitute. Either Isaac must die or God must provide a sacrifice in His place.
  • God the Father loves God the Son. I can’t read the words about Abraham’s only beloved son without thinking about Jesus. You probably know John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
  • On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided. It is very likely that the very mountain that Abraham and Isaac had climbed is the same mountain on which Jerusalem would be built. It was on the side of this mountain that Jesus would give His life as a sacrifice so that all who place their faith in Him would be saved.

What God is doing in His covenant promises is becoming clearer. How is it that God is going to bless all the nations of the earth through the offspring of Abraham? Many generations later, Jesus would be born as a Jew, a descendant of Abraham, and give his life as the provision of God for the forgiveness of sin.