|Abraham sacrifices Isaac. Roussimoff.com|
1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
Oh Abraham!! The strength of our default habit patterns and means of coping. Abraham got away with this means of self-protection once, and so does it again.
That is why it is good to confront those we care about (and those do not necessarily personally care about, but who may have spiritual or actual power over us–in church, abusive situations in work etc) lest a panicked default reaction becomes an engrained habit pattern.
3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
God has mercy on whom he has mercy. Abraham has the anointing of God on him, and a God-given destiny and God-given power which survives even his own sin. He was under God’s protection because of his anointing.
Roy and have often experienced that sort of protection, that hedge around us, something like the blessing promised to Abraham, “Those who bless you, I will bless, and those who curse you, I will curse.”
I was once gearing up to publicly oppose someone who in the past and until recently has clearly had the marks of God’s anointing and blessing on his life. Roy, my husband said, “Be careful. You’ve always said that he is one of God’s favourites. If he is, then, “Those who bless you, I will bless. Those who curse you, I will curse.” I met with this individual, could clearly see God’s hands on him (for God’s own obscure reasons) in the smart (inspired!) way he handled the meeting, and we left in peace.
ESV—Abraham is called a prophet for the first time. God mentions his ability to intercede for others, one of the marks of a great prophet.
8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
Amusingly, Abraham did the very thing he suspected Abimelek of. He showed no fear of God.
And here we have the enigma of human beings. The same person can show immense faith, and irrational fear (Sarah was how old by now?).
We all have our areas of faith, in which we have experienced God’s power, and areas in which we have not yet experienced his power and deliverance, and we are fearful in those areas. Or one might even say, we have not experienced God’s power and deliverance in those areas because we are fearful, rather than faith-filled.
14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”
16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the LORD had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.
Our prayers being answered is an aspect of God’s blessing on us.
1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.
Never underestimate the mercy of God. Sarah conceives at last, after Abraham’s massive failure of faith!!
3 Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Nothing is impossible with God.
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
God’s blessing on his friends is extended to their children.
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
Abraham knows the Hagar is under God’s protection. Hagar herself does not!
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
God sees and hears the outcast cry in the desert! He comforts those who have no apparent means of comfort, as when Stephen saw the heavens opened, and the glory of God revealed.
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.
I love this. God does not create a well in the desert. He opens her eyes so that she could see it.
There are always wells (the means to stay physically, emotionally, spiritually, and creatively alive) in our deserts for our allotted life-span.
It is good to ask God to open our eyes to see them. To open our eyes to see in which direction we are to cast our nets.
So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
God was with Ishmael as he grew, though his destiny was never to be as favoured as Isaac. You might see someone apparently more favoured by God than you are; however, that does not mean that God is not with you.
God is with believers and non-believers alike, because he created both of them, and loves both of them.
22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”
24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”
This was a smart move on Abimelek’s part. Do you find God with you in everything you do? Do you see God’s hand on someone you know in everything they do?
25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”
27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?”
30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”
31 So that place was called Beersheba,[d] because the two men swore an oath there.
32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
This is an essential question that will appear again and again in our life of faith. Do we love God more than our most precious thing/person/dream/desire? Will we sacrifice them if God asks us to?
Very, very hard. The death of Isaac would seem to negate everything God promised. Dear Lord, preserve us from the day of testing. Please. And if you test us, may our answer be the same as Abraham’s.
2 Chron 3:1 identifies the area as the temple mount in Jerusalem, site of today’s beautiful Dome of the Rock.
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Both obeying, and yet hoping that God might change his mind. “We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
He still believed that God would fulfil his promises, if necessary by raising Isaac from the dead.
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
Abraham’s heart-breaking and steely resolve is impressive.
A beautiful and life-changing statement of faith, “God himself will provide.”
GOD HIMSELF WILL PROVIDE.
The Hebrew for God will Provide is literally, God will see to it. Lovely!!
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
God did not want Isaac. Isaac was the promised child. God just wanted to know if Abraham’s heart and loyalty lay with Isaac, or with the one who gave him Isaac. He is satisfied with the answer.
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
And God provided.
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD, IT WILL BE PROVIDED.
And the principle of substitutionary sacrificial atonement is introduced. Christ later will be “the Lamb of God would takes away the sin of the world.”
NIV-Substitutionary sacrifice of one life for another is mentioned here for the first time. As the ram died in Isaac’s place, Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many.
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
20 Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maakah.