Genesis 22 When I first read the story of how God told Abraham to bring his son to a mountain and offer him as a sacrifice, it disturbed me. I couldn’t believe that my loving Father God would actually ask someone to do this, especially when He strictly forbid it, as other pagen religions killed children as part of their normal rituals.
So, would God really ask a father to kill his own son as a sacrifice? Most definitely, No! Why? Let’s take a deeper look.
A study of Genesis 22…
- Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” – Genesis 22:2
In Genesis 22, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Wow! Why would God ask such a thing of a person? Did He really mean it the way it sounds on the surface? Let’s take a deeper look at how God feels about the sacrifice of children…
- Lev 18:21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.
- Deu 12:31 “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”
- Deu 18:10 “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft”
So, now that we know that God sees child sacrifice as detestable, why would he ask Abraham to do such a thing?
- Genesis 22:1 “…God TESTED Abraham…”
God’s intent was NEVER for Abraham to actually kill his own child. So that we would not question God’s motives, He made that perfectly clear right from the start of this story found in verse 1 – “God TESTED Abraham.” The word TESTED translates to “to test, to try, or to prove.” God has definite motives for what He chooses to do and a definite result (or point) that He wants to get across.
God definitely had a point to this story. Let’s take a look at what it was…
Put simply, God created a visual ‘skit’ for us to watch and be drawn in to. He set the scene/location – Moriah. He chose the actors – Abraham and Isaac. He made the plot. He planned the outcome and ended with a Grand Finale. It kept us on the edge of our seat throughout the whole skit. Will he do it? Why is being asked? What’s this all about? Would God really do that? In a way, it made us feel sick to our stomach thinking that God would ask such a thing. It was stressful while we waited for the ending – a suspense plot like no other. It was…unforgettable.
God wanted to paint us a picture so near and dear to our hearts, that we could not help but being drawn into the story. He wanted us to feel His very heart of what it would be like to give up a son as a sacrifice for others. This scripture, like no other in the Old Testament, painted the most graphic, detailed account of the foretelling of the gospel of Christ. God wanted Abraham to explicitly remember this day and pass it down for generations to come, painting the vivid picture of substitutionary atonement – a sacrifice of the innocent as payment for sins for the guilty. We see the parallels to Jesus over and over throughout the text…
- Gen 22:6 “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son, Isaac [for him to carry to the place of sacrifice]…” Likewise, Jesus carried his cross to His place of sacrifice.
- Gen 22:8 “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for the burnt offering…” God had to provide the perfect lamb, Jesus Christ, for the final burnt offering for our sins, because we could not get to God on our own.
- Gen 22:9 “[When they reached the spot]… He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the alter on top of the wood.” Likewise, Jesus was bound to the cross, the ultimate alter for God.
- Gen 22:12 “…Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” God puts a special emphasis on ‘only son’ because He did not withhold His own Son from us.
So, one final point…
Why would Abraham obey and actually go through with it?
Abraham believed in God’s promises whole-heartedly and completely trusted that God could do all things. Sometimes in our lives today, we live by the theory that “everything is probable with God” instead of “everything is possible with God.” We look at the possibilities that we think can happen based on our known experiences instead of looking to the Creator of the universe who can do much more than we can ever even imagine. We don’t think outside of our box.
In this case, Abraham fully believed that God would raise him from the dead even though this had not yet happened in all of history. For verification, we’ll look at Hebrews 11:19 “Abraham assured that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” So, Abraham did not place God in a box, he trusted God to move outside of his box (or known world.)
So, in summary, God chose Abraham to play His part, “God.” He chose Isaac to play His Son, “Jesus.” He wanted us to know (head knowledge) and feel (heart knowledge) the great lengths that He went to make sure that we had a way to come back to Him. We are all sinners and God cannot be in the presence of sin. Through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, we all have the option of establishing a relationship with God. We only need to believe in our hearts that Jesus is God’s Son, that He died, and was raised back to life again, and we need to confess it with our mouths that Jesus is in fact our Lord…