Before we really get into the nitty-gritty of why Abraham and Issac’s story is important, we first need to understand a little history of Abraham…especially what you may not understand from your time in children’s church. The lifetime of Abraham starts in Genesis 12:27. You may notice that he isn’t called Abraham at first, but is called Abram. We will get to the why in just a few minutes, but for now he is Abram. Wednesday, Keisha took us through the event of the great flood, and Abram is 9 generations past that. There is so much good stuff from Abram’s life, but there is WAY too much to dig into in one single blog. Honestly, we could probably do an entire year on Abram & what spawned from his life. But for today….
Look up Genesis 11:30. What do we learn about Abram’s wife Sarai?
In today’s terms, barren means infertile. Sarai couldn’t have children. At this point in her life she is 65, which is well past the typical child-bearing years even of that time. In 12:2, God is speaking to Abram & tells him what? “I will _______ you and make you a great name, so that you will be a blessing”. Abram isn’t specifically told how he will be blessed, but the message is loud & clear.
In verse 7, you get a little more information on the type of blessing God is talking about. What does God tell Abram about the land they are in?
“To your __________ I will ______ this land”.
Fast forward to Genesis 15:1-7. Abram is wondering where his blessing is. At this point, he is 87-ish (God initially spoke to him at 75, vs 12:4) & still no child, but in verse 18, God reiterates His promise:
“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the kenizzites, the kadmonites, the Hitties, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Cannanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
Now this may seem like gibberish to those who aren’t well-versed in ancient middle eastern geography (umm…me, right here!), but basically God is specifically telling Abram where his descendants will occupy land one day. Yet, there is still one problem…no kid.
In 16:1, we see that Sarai is still barren, so she takes matters into her own hands. (FYI…. that is never a good idea when it comes to God’s plan & instruction.) She tells Abram to sleep with her servant girl & have a baby, because surely that is where the offspring will come from. Abram does what she asks, and the plan works. He has a son through this servant; but we learn in 17:16, God has a different plan that isn’t by way of the servant girl’s son.
**This is the point where the name change happens. If you want to get a little more into that read 17:3-16; but from now on, we will know Abram to be Abraham & Sarai to be Sarah.
At this point Abraham is 99 years old (17:1). 24 years after the initial promise. 24 years of waiting & obedience. 24 years of wondering. And then in 17:19-21, Abraham gets something specific about his offspring. What is he told?
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why this story matters to you as a believer. Read Genesis 21:1-7. What happens?
The prized son of Abraham & Sarah. The child through whom all of the descendants will come. Yay! But hold the confetti & balloons for just a second & read 22:1-10. What does God tell Abraham to do?
WAIT. What is happening? Why would God make all these promises and then ask Abraham to undo it all? What kind of God is He? There is no way God would ask him to do this, so surely Abraham is mistaken!
Looking again at verse 1, what explanation does it give as to why God is asking this of Abraham? God _____ Abraham.
God tested Abraham. Why would God do that? Well, the best place to answer questions about God is to go to His word right? So turn to Deuteronomy 8:2. Why has God lead the Israelites into the wilderness?
“That He might _________ you, _________ you, to _________ what was in your ___________, whether you would __________ His ______________ or not.”
Now turn to James 1:12. What awaits those who “persevere under trial“?
It seems warranted to ask things like, “Hasn’t he been through enough?”, ” Isn’t 25 years of waiting for Issac enough proof that he is faithful?” But then again, God isn’t giving Abraham just any child. This is Issac – the child through whom the lineage of Christ will come. This isn’t just any responsibility – this is the ultimate responsibility. This is the beginning of the descendants God was telling him about for 25 years. He has to make sure Abraham is capable of following His lead and His commands, & that he will respond in obedience regardless of how hard it is. God knows there is nothing in this life harder than giving up a child. Especially one you have waited for so long for.
Let’s go back to Genesis 22:1-10. On what day into their journey did Abraham see the place where they should go?
Where does Abraham lay the wood that will be used for the fire in verse 6?
Verse 7 probably made Abraham ache more than anything. As you read it, just think of the innocence in the voice of Issac. Go ahead & read it…………..
My son’s Bible says “Papa…where is the lamb?” Oh the hurt! It’s like Issac just shoved that knife right in Abraham’s heart. So in verse 9, Abraham builds the altar, lays Issac on top, & raises the knife….
WAIT. Why is this happening? It’s like I can hear you screaming this as I write.
Well, one thing I have learned about the Old Testament is that it parallels things in the New Testament, foreshadowing so to speak. If you don’t remember High School English, foreshadowing is when you get a glimpse, in the present, of what is to come in the future.
Is there anything in the New Testament that maybe sounds similar about Abraham having to give up his one son whom he dearly loves? Does John 3:16 ring a bell?
Y’all, there is so much symbolism in this life event of Abraham’s it is unreal, and we don’t have the time to dig every piece of this out. But in this event, it isn’t so much symbolism as it is parallelism. So many of the stories we read from the Old Testament draw us toward Christ & His ultimate sacrifice. God gave His son, His only son, for us. And just like God sacrificed His son on the cross for you and I, He is asking Abraham to do the same. He is telling Abraham to sacrifice Issac.
So going back to verse 4, use your cross-reference & read Matthew 17:23 or 20:19. What day do they have in common?
Reread verse 6, cross-reference this with John 19:17. What do you notice is similar about Issac & Jesus?
Now, back to verse 7. Cross-reference this with John 1:29 & 36. What is Jesus referred to?
Now it would seem that if Issac is a parallel or foreshadow of Christ, that Abraham is about to plunge that knife right through his son’s heart. But wait….
Read verse 11-13. Issac is never referred as the lamb during this whole thing. Issac asks about the lamb – about the sacrifice. Abraham answers “the Lord will provide”. Just before Issac is about to lose his life, God comes sweeping in & provides the sacrifice. Who is referred to as a lamb from the scriptures that we read? Who took our place on that cross & was provided as a sacrifice on behalf of you & I?
It was Jesus.
Do you see it? Do you see how events of Abraham & Issac’s life point us toward the cross? How God is setting the stage to bring in the ultimate sacrifice? The sacrifice that was so worthy that it only had to be done once? Each of these Old Testament events is important to us because they are our story. Your story. They tell us the why & the how of Christ. They give us what we need to know. They show us how despicable mankind was, but how beautiful God was. They show us how His perfect lamb was used in place of us, just like the ram was used in place of Issac.
Do you see it?