Genesis 22: How Far Faith Can Go

All of the Word of God is special because it is the communication from our creator to us. There are valuable things to learn from every chapter in the Bible, but this chapter is momentous.

At long last, Abraham had his promised son Isaac. Abraham had been living a life devoted to God, a life of absolute faith and dependence. He was sure of God’s place in reality and his place as God’s child. The times that Abraham had escaped calamity and the times that he had been blessed had come from God. Abraham knew this, and God knew that Abraham knew this, yet God still wanted to test him to an almost unthinkable limit.

Once Isaac was born, Abraham and Sarah were overjoyed. Abraham understood the source of this blessing absolutely. Because Abraham understood God’s power, and because Abraham believed that God would work towards Abraham’s overall best interest as long as Abraham honored God, Abraham obeyed God when He told Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain to kill as a sacrifice.

If you are a parent, it can be difficult to understand the frame of mind that Abraham was in. We can recognize that familial mores differed so long ago, and that our concentration on the family unit is much more intense today than it was in Abraham’s time. But we also know that Abraham had wanted and been waiting for a son. The improbability of obtaining Isaac surely made him an even more treasured son. But deep in his heart and mind, Abraham understood the concept of God’s blessings: they can often seem to be given without any sort of structure or organization and the reasons for them are not always evident. Amidst this uncertainty as to their reason, man must conclude that the presence of God’s mysterious blessings supports some unknown plan of God, still yet to appear, and a plan that may not even be evident during our lifetime.

Abraham’s relationship with God was so deep that he intuited all of this, and this understanding is what led him to blindly and willingly go to kill Isaac. Inside Abraham’s deepest thoughts, did he suspect that Isaac would make it out of this alive? Verse 8 says seems to suggest yes, because when Isaac notices the lack of a living sacrifice en route to the event, Abraham answers, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”

Whether or not Abraham expected to kill his son that day is unclear now, but we can certainly deduce that he was prepared to do it and that he would have done it had God not stopped him. God desired to test Abraham’s faith in this way and Abraham passed the test. In verses 15-18, God confirms his promises to Abraham once again:

“Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only sonblessing 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. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.””

God’s plan to redeem all mankind is evidenced as early as the third chapter of Genesis, as we have covered in this study. At this point, we have another hint at a theme: sacrifice for the greater good backed by a love like no other. None of the other men of the time had faith in God as Abraham did. Abraham proved it in undoubtable fashion. Abraham understood that faith required obedience to any ends, including sacrificing his son. Abraham’s love for God was indeed great. By the same token, on a much greater scale, God’s love for us is such that He gave us His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. This is the greatest sacrifice of all and proves that our God has the rarest and purest love for us, His Creation in need of a savior.

The chapter concludes in verses 20-24 with genealogy. The family of Nahor was last seen in chapter 11. The families of Nahor and Abraham had stayed in touch in some form, but more notably, these particular verses tell of the birth of Rebekah, who will come into significant play as the Bible story unfolds.

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