101-122-Genesis Part 2 Chapter 22
There are many age predictions of the time that had passed when God tempted Abraham. Some put the age of Isaac as early as five but that would not have been possible as the load of wood in verse 6 would have been too much for a five year old to carry. Most commentary place the age of Isaac between 30 and 35 with most agreeing on 35 years of age. These times in Abraham’s live were good years. He was living in a good land with the Philistines and had a peace covenant with King Abimelech. It was in the midst of Abraham’s enjoyment of the many blessings of God that God decided to tempt him. Not a temptation into sin, as Satan does, but tempted Abraham in order to test his faith. That Abraham might know his fear and love for God, know his cheerful obedience for God’s Word. Not only for Abraham to know but also to make others know as well the strength of Abrahams faith. God also tempts us in order to strengthen our faith. At God’s call Abraham answered “Here I Am.”
God said to Abraham take your son, your only son. Meaning this was the son of his blood, not Ishmael who was born of Hagar but his son born of Sarah his lawful wife. His son Isaac, whom he loved, his dutiful son with whom the promise of numerous offspring was to come and in whose line the Messiah was to come.
God commanded Abraham to take Isaac to the land of Moriah. Moriah is called “the hill country” in Canaan particularly where the location of Jerusalem is. There, at a mountain that God would show him, Abraham was to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. This was dreadful work Abraham was called to, and must be exceeding trying to him as a man, and much more as a parent, and a professor of the true religion, to commit such an action; for by this order he was to cut the throat of his son, then to rip him up, and cut up his quarters, and then to lay every piece in order upon the wood, and then burn all to ashes; and this he was to do as a religious action, with deliberation, seriousness, and devotion.
There were several mountains in and near the area of Moriah that could have been the place that God sent Abraham. Mount Sion, (Deuteronomy 4:48) the hill Acra, Mount Calvary, (Luke 23:33) and Mount Moriah 2 Chronicles 3:1). Most agree that the mountain Abraham was lead to be Mount Calvary.
Abraham began the day early preparing for the travel to the place God had told him to go. He gathered the wood that would be needed for the altar and other provision and he along with Isaac and two servants left the tent of Abraham and began their journey.
They traveled for two days and on the third day the place where Abraham was told to go was in his sight. The Targum of Jonathan records this verse,” Abraham lift up his eyes and saw the cloud of glory smoking upon the mountain, and he knew it afar off.”
Abraham shows his full intent to obey God’s command by telling his two servants to wait here until they return. This was a precautionary move to prevent the servants, once they realized the intent of Abraham to sacrifice his son, from preventing Abraham to complete the command God had given him. Abraham showed a great amount of faith that God will either provide the lamb for sacrifice or raise Isaac from the dead by saying, “and we will worship and return to you.” This passage states Abraham’s belief that both he and Isaac would return.
Abraham took the wood from the servants and laid it on Isaac. This may be symbolic of Jesus, who a little more than 1800 years from that time would be made to carry His cross to the hill of Calvary. (John 19:17) Others suggest the wood represent the sins that was laid upon Jesus by the Father, as remarked in 1 Peter 2:24.
Abraham then took the fire and knife and he and Isaac went off together to the place of sacrifice.
As Abraham and Isaac walked together Isaac asked where was the animal to be sacrificed? Isaac was certainly familiar with sacrifices in his time and what must be done to perform one. Isaac could see that all that was needed was prepared but there was no animal for the sacrifice. As of yet Isaac had no idea that it was he that was the sacrifice.
Abraham answered that God would provide the lamb for a sacrifice. Abraham may have been seeing the grander picture of God providing the lamb through the Messiah. (John 1:29) The Lamb of God, who had been promised, and was slain before the foundation of the earth. (Revelation 13:8) Who at the proper time would send into the world, (John 10:36) who made His Son an offering for the sin of the world. (Isaiah 53:10) This was done in the infinite wisdom of God in the fruit of His grace and good will, which Abraham was aware of. (John 8:56) Abraham’s answer left Isaac to speculate the possibility the he could be the sacrifice although Abraham did not say that. They both went on together, the Targum of Jonathan says, “they went both of them with a perfect heart as one.”
They arrived to the place that God had appointed, Maimonides records, “It is a tradition in or by the hands of all, that this is the place where David and Solomon built an altar in the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite, and where Abraham built an altar, and bound Isaac on it; and where Noah built one when he came out of the ark, and is the altar on which Cain and Abel offered; and where the first man offered when he was created, and from whence he was created.”
Abraham built an altar and laid the wood on the altar and then he bound his son Isaac. He then laid Isaac on the altar upon the word. Isaac had to be in agreement with what was about to happen to him at the hand of his father. Isaac was between the age of 25 and 35 years and was certainly able to resist his aged father if he had chosen to do so. Here again the comparison to the Christ is evident in that Isaac submitted to the will of his father.
Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife and moved to cut the throat of his son Isaac. With full determination in faith to do that which God had commanded him to do. God could see for all reasoning that the intention and motive of Abraham’s heart was to obey God’s command.
Before the fatal blow could be administered an Angel of the Lord appeared. This was Jesus who appeared as in verses 16-18 His swearing was of Himself which no created creature could do. The Angel of the Lord called out Abraham’s name twice to quickly gain his attention as Abraham was intent of completing God’s command. Abraham answered here am I Lord and probably overwhelmed with joy that he was distracted from sacrificing his only son.
The Lord commanded Abraham not to lay a hand on Isaac and not to bring him any harm. The Lord testified that He now knew that Abraham feared God. That Abraham’s faith was full and complete, that he was obedient to God in trust of His judgment and in submission to His will. This was a test for Abraham that would strengthen his faith and prove to all the Lord would make known. God knew that Abraham would be faithful and follow His Word. (Psalms 1:6) All who would hear of it and all who would read of it would know the faith of Abraham in his complete fear, love, obedience, and belief in God.
Rather than Abraham sacrificing his only son God provided the sacrifice in his son’s place. For this reason Abraham named the place “The Lord will provide.” Solomon built the temple on this place (Chronicles 3:1) and Calvary where Jesus was crucified was not far from there. It was there that God provided the perfect Sacrifice for the salvation of mankind, His Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Lamb of God. (Romans 8:32)
The Angel of the Lord then calls down again to Abraham and confirms the covenant between him and God. Only now because of Abraham’s obedience to God’s command it exceeds what had been promised before. It is a testimony to us that if we are willing to sacrifice our all for Him the rewards for our obedience will far exceed that which we have given. Verse eighteen points to the promised Messiah and the grace of the gospel. “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” In this we see the lovingkindness of our God and His Son the Savior of the world. Our Savior is a risen Lord and calls to us to freely take of His blood bought salvation by the loving grace of God. The redeemed are to rejoice and glorify Him. We live for and through Him that died for us that we might inherit an eternal life with Him in God’s glory. Whatever is treasured most by us here on this earth is our Isaac and we should freely offer it up in faith to our Father God.