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Sunday, August 11 2013
Genesis 22: Isaac's Burnt Offering
"Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering"
The birth of Isaac had been prophesied and delivered by the LORD (see Genesis 17: From Abram To Abraham and Genesis 21: The Birth of Isaac and The Expulsion Of Hagar). Abraham would have many other children (see Abraham's Seed: From The Nile To The Euphrates), but one line, through Isaac, was chosen to be the branch of the coming Messiah (see also The Forerunner Of Man and Of God). It didn't make anyone in that direct line superior to anyone else, but it did then make them necessary to the purpose. With all of that fully-understood by Abraham, the LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ; see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) then made a startling command to Abraham: "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering."
"22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
Abraham obeyed the LORD (see also What Did Jesus Christ Say About Abraham?). He set off with Isaac and a load of "wood for the burnt offering." Isaac wasn't just to be killed; he was then to be made a burnt offering - rendering his body to ashes (see the Fact Finder question below).
"22:3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 22:5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." (Genesis 22:3-5 KJV)
Isaac became inquisitive. He had witnessed burnt offerings (the purpose of which was to symbolize the absolute offering of something to the LORD without being able to thereafter get it back) before, but of animals (see also The Blood Of Bulls And Goats). Isaac asked, "Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
"22:6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
There is no doubt that Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac, as the LORD told him to do. But was it an act of blind obedience, or obedience of faith? Answer: faith, not only that the LORD would resurrect Isaac from the dead, but that He would resurrect him from the ashes of his burnt offering.
"11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." (Hebrews 11:17-19 KJV)
The sacrifice of Isaac was made by Abraham's faith and intent - and then completed in the usual way, with a ram.
"22:9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and 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. 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
As the LORD had promised to Noah, the same "seed" promise continued through Abraham (see The LORD's Seed Covenants With The Two Men Of Iraq).
"22:15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 22:16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 22:17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." (Genesis 22:15-18 KJV)
As he had told the other men that he would do, Abraham then returned with Isaac, alive, from the place where he had intended to sacrifice Isaac and render him into ashes.
"22:19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba." (Genesis 22:19 KJV)
Some information that is provided in the Holy Scriptures seems irrelevant to the context of a particular section. The inclusion of the news that Abraham's brother in Syria had more children seems out of place with the recording of Isaac's sacrifice.
"22:20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; 22:21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, 22:22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 22:23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother. 22:24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah." (Genesis 22:20-24 KJV)
Why was it included there? Because, as explained later in the Scriptures, Isaac's son Jacob, who the LORD renamed as Israel (see A Biography Of Jacob: When Jacob Became Israel), found his two wives and two concubines from that family, of his family (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Jacobites Of Syria). It's how the "seed" promise to Abraham, through Isaac, would continue toward its fulfillment in the Messiah.
"29:1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. 29:2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 29:3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place.
Fact Finder: What did Abraham understand about "dust and ashes" that assured him that Isaac would be resurrected from his "burnt offering" - without need of a dead, corrupted body?
This Day In History, August 11
117: The accession of Hadrian, the 14th Roman emperor. He reigned 117-138 (see A History Of Jerusalem: Hadrian and Simon bar Kokhba).
355: Claudius Silvanus proclaimed himself Roman Emperor against Emperor Constantius II.
490: The Battle of Adda. The Goths under Theodoric the Great and his ally Alaric II defeated the army of Odoacer on the Adda River, near Milan.
991: The Danes under Olaf Tryggvason defeated the Saxons at Maldon.
1675: During the Franco-Dutch War, armies of "the Holy Roman Empire" (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation) defeated the French at the Battle of Konzer Brucke.
1712: The Treaty of Aargau was signed which ended the Swiss War and guaranteed Protestant superiority over Catholic Cantons.
1786: Francis Light established the British colony of Penang, Malaysia.
1718: The English fleet under Admiral George Byng destroyed or captured 15 out of 22 Spanish ships at the Battle of Cape Passaro off Sicily.
1804: Francis II became the first Emperor of Austria.
1858: The Eiger of the Bernese Alps was climbed for the first time.
1863: Cambodia became a French protectorate.
1906: In France, Eugene Lauste received the first patent for a "talking film."
1908: Britain's King Edward VII met with Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II (Kaiser is the German form of Caesar; again, see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation) to protest the growth of the German navy.
1919: After the First World War, the constitution of the Weimar Republic was adopted in Germany.
1933: "The Assyrian Incident" - a massacre of Assyrian villagers (315 men, 4 women, 6 children) by Iraqi government forces.
1934: The first civilian prisoners arrived at the Federal prison on Alcatraz Island, California. The incarceration rate in the USA today is the highest in the world. With only 5% of the world's population, nearly 25% of the world's inmates are in US prisons.
1942: A German submarine sank the British Navy's HMS Eagle, one of the world's first aircraft carriers.
1952: King Hussein of Jordan succeeded to the throne after his father, King Ala, was deposed. He reigned for 47 years, until his death in 1999.
1972: The last U.S. military forces withdrew from Vietnam. Soon thereafter, North Vietnam over-ran South Vietnam, ending the Vietnam civil war between north and south, thereby creating a single country free of foreign interference for the first time since colonial France divided Vietnam into North and South in the 1950s.
1990: West German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher's Free Democrats (FDP) merged with their liberal East German allies to become the first revived all-Germany political party.
2003: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took over command of the "peacekeeping" force in Afghanistan, its first major operation outside Europe in its 54-year-history (NATO was formed to defend western Europe from Soviet invasion).