Genesis 22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 22, 2007


Abraham and Sarah were getting up there in years when the most wonderful thing happened in their lives, they had a baby. It was their greatest hope, their greatest dream. For awhile they had thought it would never happen. But then there they were, he’s a hundred years old, she’s ninety years old, showing up at the emergency room in labor.

And now they’ve been living in the desert community of Beersheba as they are raising their son Isaac.

The story we’re looking at this morning is one of the most amazing and wonderful portraits of Jesus you’ll see in the Old Testament. Keep your eyes open …

:1-14 Abraham sacrificing Isaac

:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."

The old King James says “that God did tempt Abraham”, but this is not a tempting to do wrong, this is a test. Just a test. God wants to see what Abraham’s faith is made of. God wants to see just how much Abraham is willing to trust God.

:2 Then He said, "Take now 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."

your only son Isaac – what about Ishmael? Abraham has another son, doesn’t he? God doesn’t recognize Ishmael.

Pastor Chuck writes, “We’re going to be surprised when we stand before God and our works are then tried by fire; because, so many of them will be burned. The works of the flesh will all burn. I’ve tried for years, in my flesh, to do the work of God and to build the church of Jesus Christ, but it was all for nothing. I spent a lot of years laboring in vain. God doesn’t recognize the work of your flesh, He wants the work of the Spirit in your life.”

(Psa 127:1 NKJV) Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

whom you love – there is a principle in Bible Study called the principle of “First Mention”. You can learn some very interesting things by studying them in the first time they occur in the Bible. Since the book of Genesis is the book of “beginnings”, we’ve seen lots of “first mentions”.

This is the first occurrence of the word “love”. Pay close attention to the lesson of love that is taught here.

There used to be a bumper sticker that read, “If you truly love someone, then you will set them free”
Then there was a bumper sticker that said something like, “If you truly love someone, you will set them free, then hunt them down”
Is that what this verse is teaching us? Abraham loves his son, and it looks like he’s going to kill him.
The lesson is this: If you truly love someone, you will trust them into God’s hands.

It is interesting to note that the first mention of “love” is of a father for his son.

When you look in the New Testament, the first occurrence of “love” is found in:
(Mat 3:17 NKJV) And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

The first occurrence in Mark and Luke are also of God the Father speaking of His beloved Son.

The first mention of “love” in the gospel of John is:
(John 3:16 NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

There’s a shift from the beloved Son to the world that God loves so much that He gives His beloved son as a sacrifice …

There is a scripture in Hebrews that says:

(Heb 10:7 NKJV) Then I said, 'Behold, I have come; In the volume of the book it is written of Me; To do Your will, O God.'"

This verse is telling us that the whole Bible is filled with Jesus. As you’re going to see, Jesus is woven so much into Genesis 22, you have to be blind not to see Him.

MoriahMowriyah – “chosen by Yahweh”. In our text here it is referred to as the “land of Moriah”. Because of verse 4, it is thought of as being a three days’ journey from Beersheba, where Abraham had been staying. A typical day’s journey would be somewhere between 10 and 20 miles, and the city of Jerusalem is about 50 miles north of Beersheba. Later, in Solomon’s day, one hilltop in particular is referred to as “Mount Moriah”,

(2 Chr 3:1 NKJV) Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

The Muslims built a structure over a rock they claim to be the one where Abraham offered his son (though they claim it was Ishmael, not Isaac). The building is called the “Dome of the Rock”, it’s that building with the big golden dome that sits on the Temple Mount. There is a Jewish tradition that this is the spot where Abraham offered Isaac.
When you stand on the Mount of Olives and look across the Kidron Valley to the city of Jerusalem, the first thing that catches your eye is the Temple Mount and that big golden dome. Down and to the left, about a quarter of a mile away, is the part of Jerusalem known as “The City of David”, the oldest part of Jerusalem dating not only back to the time of David, but back to the earliest inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Canaanite tribe known as the Jebusites. when you take a tour of Hezekiah’s tunnel, just before going down into the water you pass by this ancient shaft built by those early Jebusites as a way of drawing water from the Gihon spring into their city, the same shaft that Joab crawled up to enter and conquer Jerusalem for David.
If the Temple Mount was indeed the place where Abraham offered Isaac, or even if it was a little farther north at a higher part of the hill where one day a man hung on a cross, then we know that this event didn’t take place out in the middle of nowhere. It took place just north of an inhabited city, a city in which one of Abraham’s friends lived – Melchizedek, king of Salem, king of Jerusalem.
Since we see Melchizedek as one of the many pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament, being both a king and a priest, it’s fascinating to think that this is all taking place a short walk away from Melchizedek’s town.


Would you give up your treasure?

With so many fascinating ideas in this verse, don’t miss the lesson that Abraham is learning. Do you have treasure? Would you give it up if God asked you to?
A pirate captain was out to retrieve his buried treasure. After months of hard sailing his ship caught site of land, the land to which his treasure map had been leading. He and his first mate disembarked on the island to search out the buried treasure, which was supposed to lay hidden deep within a swamp at the center of the island. Sure enough, at the center of the island was a swamp, and the Captain and his first mate bravely entered the swamp. Soon the swamp began to get deeper, and the pirate’s feet, then ankles, and finally entire leg below the knees was covered in swamp. It was at that time that the Captain banged his shin against something hard. He reached down, searched around, and pulled up a treasure chest. Prying the lock open, the chest revealed gold and jewels beyond imagination. The Captain turned to his first mate and said, “Arrrr, matey, that just goes to show ye, that booty is only shin deep!”
Would you give up your treasure if God asked you to?
What’s more important to you – your “stuff” or your God?
When Jesus met the fellow we call “The Rich Young Ruler”, He ended up telling the fellow …

(Mat 19:21 NKJV) …"If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

Jesus wasn’t stating that you have to give all your money away in order to get to heaven. He was putting His finger on this one particular man’s problem. His “stuff” was his problem. His “stuff” was his “god”.

For Abraham, Isaac was his greatest treasure. And even when such a great treasure is something that we clearly see God has given us, we need to be careful that our treasure doesn’t become our “god”.
Keep your treasure on the altar.

:3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Not only is Abraham traveling about 50 miles from Beersheba to Jerusalem, but he’s also climbing from 800 feet (Beersheba) to 2500 feet (Jerusalem)

:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.

The journey was three days. In a way, after Abraham decided to go, Isaac was “dead” to his father. And after this journey of three days, Isaac will be alive again.

:5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."

worship – Bible students, this is the first occurrence of the word “worship”. We think of “worship” as singing pretty songs. Abraham thought of “worship” as offering up his son on an altar.

Note: Abraham has this idea that even though God has asked him to sacrifice his son, that they will return. He knows that God has promised that Isaac would be the son through whom God would keep His promises to Abraham:

(Gen 17:19 NKJV) Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.

Abraham has been learning to trust God. He has learned that God keeps His promises. Isaac himself is a fulfilled promise from God to Abraham.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us:

(Heb 11:17-19 NKJV) By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, {18} of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," {19} concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

There is a picture of sacrifice and resurrection in this story.

:6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.

wood … laid it on Isaac

(John 19:17 NKJV) And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,

How old was Isaac at this time?

When you compare Gen. 21:8 and 23:1, Isaac has to be somewhere between 3 and 37 years old.

He’s also got to be old enough to carry a load of wood up the hill. Don’t think of him as a toddler.

Note: The Hebrew word translated “lad” for Isaac in verse 5 is the same word used to describe the “young men”, perhaps they are all about the same age.

Some suggest Isaac might be a teenager, others suggest a man in his twenties, others have suggested he might have been 33 years old, like Jesus was when He died.

:7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"

Isaac notices that something is missing with this sacrifice.

:8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.

I love the way the Old King James puts this verse:

(Gen 22:8 KJV) And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering

:9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

I find it interesting that Isaac trusts his father enough to let him do this.

We often look at this story from Abraham’s perspective – being willing to give up the most important thing in your life.

But think of it from Isaac’s perspective – trusting your Father and being willing to lay down your life.

Jesus prayed in the garden:
(Luke 22:42 NKJV) …"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

:10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

There are several times in the Old Testament where some pretty unusual events take place. And from the light of the New Testament we get the idea that God was actually painting pictures of events yet to come.

Moses in the wilderness gives us some of these paintings.

Paul tells us that the Rock in the wilderness that gave the people water was Christ.
The first time Moses encounters the Rock, the people are in need of water. Moses is told to “strike” the Rock and water would come out.
The next time Moses encounters the Rock, he is told to “speak” to the Rock and water would come out.
What a beautiful picture of our Savior – He was struck, smitten for our sins. And now all we need to do is speak, to trust in Him, and we receive the water of life.
But the problem is that Moses blew the picture. The second time he encountered the Rock, he was upset with the people. Instead of speaking to the Rock, he strikes the Rock a second time out of anger, and messes up the picture. And God pulls Moses aside and tells him that because he didn’t speak to the Rock, he wouldn’t enter the Promised Land.
Sometimes we don’t do a great job at painting …
A man was hired to paint a church and came out to do the job. He had finished painting everything but the steeple when he realized he was running out of paint. Instead of going out to get more paint he thinned it out and kept on going. Well, that night there was a big storm. The next morning the painter came and found that all of the paint on the steeple had been washed off. While he was looking up the clouds parted and a voice from heaven said “REPAINT AND THIN NO MORE!”
In fact, it’s kind of ironic that Moses doesn’t make it into the Promised Land. It’s Joshua that leads the people into the Promised Land. Following the Law of Moses won’t get you into heaven, but Joshua will. Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua.

Now here in the land of Moriah, Abraham is painting a picture for God.

He paints the picture of a loving Father willingly giving up His Beloved Son as a sacrifice … in the land of Moriah, the land “chosen by Yahweh”.

And this is just about as much as God wants Abraham to paint, so…

:11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am."

:12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

the Angel of the LORD – we know from other studies in the Scripture that this is a unique personality in the Old Testament. This is the Lord Jesus appearing before His birth in Abraham.

I am blown away thinking of who it is that’s going to stop Abraham from going through with the sacrifice.

It’s the One who Himself would one day be the Son who was sacrificed.

now I know … – talk is cheap. It’s easy to say that you believe in God, but if there is not evidence in your life, maybe your faith isn’t worth anything.

Earlier in Abraham’s life, when God promised Abraham a son, we read,

(Gen 15:6 NKJV) And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

But now Abraham’s faith in God has turned a corner. He doesn’t just have a faith that consists of cheap words. He’s demonstrated by his actions that He has complete trust in God.

(James 2:20-24 NKJV) But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? {21} Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? {22} Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? {23} And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. {24} You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

James is not saying that a man is made right because or works, but that a man’s faith is justified by his works. Our works prove the reality of our faith. Abraham’s actions proved to everyone that he had a complete trust in God.

:13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

There is a picture here of substitionary sacrifice. The ram would die in place of the son.

:14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided."

The-LORD-Will-Provide – the Hebrew is “Yahweh Yireh”.

In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided – this is something that was being said in Moses’ day apparently as a result of what had happened to Abraham.

Abraham’s sacrifice was provided for him in the land of Moriah.

Solomon would build the Temple on the Mount of Moriah.

Jesus would be crucified in the land of Moriah.

The Gospel – God has provided a sacrifice for you.

:15-19 Blessing on Abraham

:15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,

:16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son;

:17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.

multiply …– God reiterates His earlier (Gen. 15:5) promise to give Abraham many descendants. And the irony is that the promise of many descendants comes after Abraham is willing to give up the one he treasures.

possess the gate of their enemies – a hint at Israel one day conquering the land of Canaan.

:18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

The whole world would be blessed because of Abraham’s obedience.

:19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

:20-24 Nahor’s family

:20 Now it came to pass after these things that it was told Abraham, saying, "Indeed Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor:

it was told Abraham – Abraham is going to hear some news from his family. It seems the last we know Abraham has heard of Nahor was when Abraham had left with his father from Ur where they apparently left Nahor behind.

It tells us that there was some sort of communication being carried back and forth from Abraham’s family to him.

Because names carried meaning in these ancient days, it’s interesting to see the flavor of the names being used.

MilcahMilkah – “queen” / NahorNachowr – “snorting”

:21-24 …

We get a long list of Nahor’s children, including his granddaughter Rebekah (vs. 23)

Rebekah will one day become the bride of Abraham’s son Isaac.

To give you a taste of Nahor’s family …

BuzBuwz – “contempt” / RebekahRibqah – “ensnarer”

TebahTebach – “a slaughter” / MaachahMa‘akah – “oppression”

Nahor had a lot of kids. Big family. I wonder if that was a bit of a bitter pill for Abraham (“exalted father”) to swallow. Would you trade the blessings that God has given you for the treasures the world has to offer?

Is it worth it to turn from the world and follow after God?

:18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."


Blessings for painting God’s pictures

Abraham was faithful to paint a gospel picture.
He was painting a picture of a Father who would not withhold His Son, His only Son.
God is concerned that we too would paint the correct pictures for those around us.
(John 13:34-35 NKJV) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. {35} "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
All nations will be blessed when we too paint the right pictures.