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Genesis 22:1-19

Genesis 22:1-19

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I. Historical Background

1. This event happens much before Israel became a nation (Pre-Israelite setting, 2100-1700 B.C.)
2. The first audience would have been the Israelites Moses led through the wilderness

II. God’s Covenant and Promise the precondition for the testing

1. Abraham was originally from an idolatrous, polytheistic religious background and probably devoted to and sacrificed to many gods (Joshua 24:2)

2.God entered into a covenantal relationship with him and made several promises (Genesis 12:2-3, 7; 15:7, 18)

(a) I will make of you a great nation—fruitful (Genesis 15:5; 17:6)
(b) I will bless you—blessing (Genesis 17:6)
(c) I will make your name great—famous (Genesis 17:6)
(d) I will make you a blessing to all nations/families of the earth—multiply (Genesis 22:17)
(e) I will give this land to your offspring (Canaan/Israel)—possess the land (Genesis 17:8)
(f) I will give you a son—progeny (Genesis 17:16; 18:10,14)
(g) Your offspring will be strangers, servants, afflicted for four centuries and return (Genesis 15:13, 16)
(h) I will be their God—presence (Genesis 17:8)

3. Until chapter 22, there is only one promise that God has fulfilled, and that is the provision of a son (Isaac) descending from Abraham and Sarah, in spite of Sarah’s bareness (Genesis 11:30, 15:4, 16:1)

4. All the other promises were to materialize/come to fulfillment only through Abraham’s son/descendant/offspring, Isaac

III. Abraham is under divine examination (vv. 1)

1. The phrase “after these things” could refer to the passage of time or sometime after the birth of Isaac and the departure of Ishmael (Genesis 21)
2. The word test means to prove one’s obedience, faithfulness, loyalty in the context of a covenant relationship
3. Until now Abraham has shown both success and failure in his walk before the Lord
4. God is not interested in examining Abraham’s intellect, skills, but his heart (loyalty/devotion)

IV. God asks Abraham to build an altar (vv. 2)

1. God gives three imperatives followed by a short description

(a) Take—your son, your only son Isaac whom you love
(b) Go—to the land of Moriah
(c) Offer—him up as a burnt offering

2. Until this time, Abram (Exalted Father) had built three altars (place of sacrifice, sometimes built/named to commemorate significant events) of worship which probably involved the sacrifice of an animal (Genesis 12:7-8; 13:18; 22:9). He built these altars on his own to show gratitude to God.
3. This is the first time “God” is asking Abraham to build an altar and it involves the sacrifice of his “only begotten/beloved son”—the most precious thing in his life (the closest thing to his heart)
4. The sacrifice (Isaac) is to be offered up as a burnt offering (to go up, to ascend, entirely consumed/burnt, totally devoted to God)
5. In other words, what “descended” from Abraham’s loins, was to “ascend” before God as smoke
6. Nothing was to be left behind for Abraham to take back
7. But, Abraham is called to be reduced to nothing, become insignificant, unpopular.
8. It is only in this place of “nothingness/smallness” that our single devotion for God can be proved
9. From Father of two Abraham became father of one, now he is to become father of none
10. God’s test demanded “everything” from Abraham (His Son, His blessing, His future, His popularity, His possession of the land)

V. Abraham demonstrates his total loyalty to God over Isaac (vv. 3-14)

1. Instant obedience (early morning) to God’s commands without any questions (took, went, offered)
2. But, he encountered one of the most difficult question (like in every examination, big question)
3. Abraham answers, “God (himself) will provide”. Abraham could have certainly provided for the lamb. He was very rich in livestock, silver and gold (cf. 13:2).
4. As an earthly father, Abraham ceased to provide for the need of his son but is instead determined to follow His heavenly father
4. In totally devoting his beloved son of the promise, Abraham shows total devotion to God (Here I am, occurs 3 times without which the story couldn’t have moved forward)
5. He was willing to be mentally and physically detached from his beloved son for the sake of being loyal/faithful/obedient to God (Luke 14:26-27, 33)

VI. God demonstrates his loyalty towards Abraham (vv. 15-19)

1. There are two reasons why God reassures His promise

(a) “Because”—you fear/obey God and His Word (v.12, 18)
(b) “Because”—you have not withheld your son, your only son (v.12, 16)

2. God reassures that Abraham’s ((Father of a multitude) name is going to be made great and he swears this by His own Name

VII. God demonstrates his loyalty towards us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Philippians 2:1-11)

1. On the Cross, God the Father put Jesus (his only beloved son) to the test/trial (John 3:16)
2. God did not withhold his only son but gave himself up “totally devoted” to save us
3. Jesus walked all the way to the mountain (Calvary) and became nothing (Philippians 2:7-8)
4. God demonstrated His love inspite of our disloyalty to Him (Romans 5:8)
5. God exalted Jesus’ Name high above every name (Philippians 2:11)

VIII. Theology of the passage

1. God does not desire in sacrifices or burnt offerings but a total devotion to Him (Psalm 50:7-11; Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20)
2. A total devotion to God is to “not withhold” anything from Him even the things we love the most

IX. Take Away

Because God demonstrated His love for us in Jesus, demonstrate your total devotion to the Triune God by totally devoting the most precious one(s)/things in your life to Him and leave the future in His hands