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Sons of Promise

One of the most famous incidents of Bible History is when Abraham nearly sacrificed his beloved son Isaac, in obedience to God's command for him to do so. God stopped it, at the very last minute, since it was only a test, but Abraham, despite the incredible grief and horror that he must have been feeling, would have done it. Many have wondered why God chose that particular way to test Abraham. Why was the sacrifice of a beloved son something that God would think of?

Isaac Isaac's birth came about from a miracle. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5), and Sarah, at age 90, had been unable to have children (Genesis 16:1, 17:17), but God made the promise to Abraham, "Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." (Genesis 17:19 RSV). And yet, the day came when Abraham was faced with a very difficult decision.

"After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!"

"And he said, "Here am I."

"He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

"So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off." (Genesis 22:1-4 RSV)

The arrival:

"When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of The Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"

"And he said, "Here am I."

"He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

"And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of The Lord it shall be provided."

"And the angel of The Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By Myself I have sworn, says The Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed My voice." (Genesis 22:9-18 RSV)

Isaac was Abraham's only son of the promise, but as such, Isaac was also symbolic of God's only Son of Promise - Jesus Christ. As indicated in the above Scriptures, Moriah (see Mount Moriah) was the place where God instructed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Centuries later, it was the same place where God commanded Solomon to build a Temple (see Temples) as a place where God could be worshiped (while God Himself remained in heaven), and nearby was the place where the ultimate Sacrifice was made - the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

God could relate very much to what Abraham went through during those three days, since centuries later He watched His Own Son led to the Sacrifice. But fortunately for humanity, Christ's Sacrifice wasn't stopped - it went all The Way.

Fact Finder: Did Abraham's faith enable him to pass the test?
Hebrews 11:17-19

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