Genesis 22 – The Only Son
“Father, thank you for your only Son. Once again, we open your Word and ask you to speak to us through Abraham’s son, Isaac. Please give us clarity of mind and help us understand the depth of your love for us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
Pause and read Genesis 22 before continuing our lesson for today.
For weeks we have studied Abraham’s life. We watched him struggle with his faith, waited with him for the promise and cheered at the birth of his son.
And now this??
Today’s reading probably blew your mind. Maybe it made you angry. Why would God take away the very child He promised? Why would He ask Abraham to kill his son? And why would Abraham be willing to do so?
Hebrews 11:17-19 will help us understand Abraham’s willingness to do this. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.”
Abraham completely believed God’s promise to bring his line of descendants through Isaac. He believed it so firmly that he trusted God would bring Isaac back to life. Amazing faith!
Early the next morning, they left. He acted quickly and with great confidence in the God He served. I can’t imagine the emotions of his heart. How would he explain it to his son? Could he actually follow through with it?
When it dawned on Isaac that they didn’t bring a sacrificial lamb with them, he asked his father about it. Abraham’s words echo his thoughts. “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (vs. 8) Yes, God had provided the lamb: Isaac, his only son. No greater sacrifice could even be imagined.
The words on the page seem almost mechanical. Abraham built the altar, bound his son, and lifted the knife. How could anyone love God enough to give up his own promised son, just because He asked?
Then God intervened.
I can’t fathom his relief. Joy filled his soul. Undoubtedly, he rushed to untie Isaac and embrace him. Suddenly, they heard a ram caught in the bushes. With great thanksgiving, they offered the ram as their offering to God.
“Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (vs. 12) Abraham’s faith in God led him to simple obedience, without question. He made up his mind to obey, no matter the cost, even if he didn’t understand. The angel referred to fear, but not terror. Instead, he meant the deep respect which causes you to not even consider disobedience.
But why would God ask this? Why was it necessary to test Abraham in this way? Does God seriously want parents to be willing to kill their children?
No. Emphatically no. God never intended for Abraham to kill his son.
Don’t miss the point.
God Himself will provide the sacrifice.
This story points us to the New Testament. Genesis once again foretells the coming of the Messiah. “. . . through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (vs. 18)
Through Isaac’s bloodline, Jesus would come.
Abraham and Isaac teach us about another Father who was willing to sacrifice His Son, totally confident in His own power to resurrect Him from the dead.
Jesus, the only Son of God, came to earth as an infant, just like Isaac. But He had an even greater miraculous birth, being born of a virgin.
The people of both Abraham’s and Jesus’ day followed the sacrificial system. Through God’s instructions, they offered animals as a form of payment for their sins against God. God taught them the cost of disobedience through the death of the animals. Just like death is separation from life, sin causes separation from God.
God provided a sacrifice for Isaac by sending a ram as a substitute. And God provided a sacrifice for us by sending Jesus to die in our place. Jesus was separated from God, so we don’t ever have to be separated from God.
If we believe, obeying God as Abraham did, then we will be raised from the dead, just as Jesus was raised.
Abraham lived to be 175. He married again after Sarah died, and had more children, but he gave everything he owned to Isaac, his promised child. (Genesis 25:1-11) The book of Genesis continues with Isaac’s life, and the lives of his children and grandchildren. From his grandchildren come the beginnings of the nation of Israel. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, you can follow their story.
Throughout the stories of the Old Testament, you will meet God and understand more of His character. He is serious about our obedience, and serious about His love for us. Love deep enough to be willing to allow His Son to die. Love powerful enough to raise Him from the dead.
This concludes our study of Abraham, but I hope you will continue to read the book of Genesis. Watch for more stories of God’s faithfulness and more foretelling of God’s plan. The whole Old Testament points to Jesus. In fact, the entire Bible is one story – the story of God’s love for us and plan to rescue us through His Son Jesus.
Questions for thought:
- Group Discussion: Take a few moments to look back through your notes from our study of Abraham. What have you learned about God’s character through Abraham’s life?
- Application for your life: Abraham thought he knew what God was going to do, but thankfully, he was wrong. In his joy, Abraham named the place where the angel stopped him “The Lord Will Provide.” (Genesis 22:15) In what ways have you seen God provide for you in unexpected ways?
- For further study: Abraham is used in James 2:14-24 as a picture of faith and actions working together. As you read this passage, consider your own faith, and whether your actions match what you believe.