What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 6)
Sealed by the covenant of circumcision, the birth of Isaac marked the beginning of Abraham’s promised line, and the distinction of a set-apart people. Until this time, Abraham had proved himself most malleable—willing to appease the command of both God and wife alike. But now, with the coming of his son Isaac—the promised progenitor of his name—would Abraham continue to obey, even in the face of great personal loss?
When Isaac, whom Abraham loved, had grown into a young man, God spoke to Abraham with what anyone would perceive as an appalling request. As a test for Abraham, God instructed him to take Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt-offering (see Genesis 22:2)—He commanded Abraham to kill his own son. For what felt like forever, Abraham and Sarah had waited for their promised heir. Would God now break His word and take away that which He had sworn to give? Was He testing Abraham to see if he believed that God would raise his son from the dead? Yet without a word of objection—with no resistance whatsoever—the very next morning, Abraham set out in obedience to his God.
Abraham and Isaac traveled for three days to the mountain where God was waiting. Placing the wood for the sacrifice on Isaac’s back, Abraham took the fire and the knife, and they started up the mountain. Unable to foresee his apparent peril, Isaac nevertheless recognized the elements for a sacrifice, and noticed the conspicuous lack of a lamb. Upon inquiring of his father concerning the absent animal, Abraham cryptically—if not faithfully—replied, “God will see to a lamb for Himself for a burnt-offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8, mjlt).
But despite Abraham’s assurances—to himself and to his son—what followed next would surely cut to the heart of any father… and that of his trusting child. Having arrived at the place which God had told him, Abraham proceeded to build an altar, place the wood upon it, and lay his son Isaac—bound—on top of the wood (see Genesis 22:9). Foreshadowing the willingness of another Father to sacrifice His one and only Son, righteous Abraham—without hesitation, without a sound… indeed, without a doubt—took the knife in his hand, and readied himself to run through his beloved, faithful Isaac.
Suddenly, a voice from the heavens rang out, stilling the hand of collected and compliant Abraham. “Do not send your hand into the youth, nor do anything to him, for now I have known that you are fearing God, and have not withheld your son—your only one—from Me” (Genesis 22:12, mjlt). And when Abraham lifted up his eyes, he saw a ram with its horns stuck in a thicket. The God of Promise had indeed provided a Lamb—and Abraham saw Him, and rejoiced (see John 8:56-58).
The test for Abraham was not simply to see whether or not he would obey the most painful—the most horrific—command imaginable. Rather, God tested Abraham to see if he would continue to believe in and stand by the promise, even if God’s word were called into question—even if the promise appeared unquestionably broken. The righteous man would not doubt God’s word despite God Himself seeming to give him reason to doubt it. Abraham’s pliability and composure were not detriments of his character, but attributes of a faithful man in whom a faithful God could commend His promises.
Because Abraham proved his faithful obedience—confirming his selfless willingness to hold back nothing from God—God swore, and He blessed, and He recertified His promise that by Abraham’s incalculable descendants, a chosen nation would rise and be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth (see Genesis 22:16-18). Though Isaac, like his father before him, would go on to make similar mistakes and walk in his flawed yet faithful footsteps, God would nevertheless keep His word to Abraham, repeat his blessings to Isaac, and renew His covenant with that model of a sacrificial son. Soon the heir of Abraham would have a covenantal son of his own, and, like his father, be responsible to maintain that separate and peculiar ancestry. The nation of Abraham would continue to be blessed by the God of Isaac… all because a father listened to—and obeyed—the voice of the God of Promise.
And Adonai saw [Isaac] during that night, and said, “I am the God of Av’raham your father. Fear not, for I am with you, and will bless you, and will multiply your seed because of Av’raham My servant.” (Genesis 26:24, mjlt)