Genesis Chapter Twenty-Two


Read Genesis 22:1-2 – Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac


v.1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.


            In New Testament scripture we’re told that God tempts no man:


James 1:13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:”


Is this a conflict in scripture between Genesis 22:1 and James 1:13?  No.  A better translation of the original language in Genesis 22:1 would be prove or try.  God does not tempt man to sin but God will try or test man to determine the strength of his faith and to strengthen his faith.  That is the situation here with Abraham, Abraham was tried and we’re told that he was tried:


By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,” Hebrews 11:17


The Apostle Peter records that the trials of our faith will be counted for praise and honor at our judgment.


I Peter 1:7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”


v.2And he said, 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 upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”


            Abraham is told to literally go to a certain place and offer Isaac as a burnt offering to God just as he would a bullock or a sheep.  What is significant about the land of Moriah and the mountain to which God would tell Abraham to go to conduct this sacrifice?


II Chronicles 3:1Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”


The location to which Abraham would be sent was the same location chosen to erect the temple of God and where the house of the Lord would stand until such time as the seed promise given to Eve and passed down through Abraham would be fulfilled.


Read Genesis 22:3-14 – Abraham Obeys God


v.3And 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.”


            Abraham prepares to do just exactly what God has told him to do.  He saddles his mount, cuts (clave is an archaic form of the word cleave) the wood for the burnt offering and takes it with him.  He takes two of his men and Isaac with him and begins his journey to the place that God will show him.


v.4  4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.”


            We don’t know how Abraham identified the place that God intended for him to use as a place of sacrifice but it is sufficient that he did so.  He has been traveling for three days now and the anguish and torment of being required to offer his son as a burnt offering must have been overwhelming.  But he continues steadfastly onward in obedience to God.


v.5And 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.”


            He leaves his servants some distance from the place of sacrifice and takes only what is required for his worship to God.


v.6And 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.”


            We are not told how old Isaac is when this occurs but in this verse we’re told that he is physically capable of carrying the wood necessary to make the fire for the burnt offering.  Though we have no direct parallel given to us by scripture, commentators here consider Isaac bearing the wood for his own sacrifice as a shadow of Christ bearing the cross to Calvary.


And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:” John 19:17


v.7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”


            Again, the scripture does not tell us Isaac’s age at this time but he has been trained in worship to God to the extent that he understands that the lamb of sacrifice is missing.  So he asks a simple question that must have cut Abraham as deeply as any question could have.  “WHERE is THE LAMB” to be sacrificed?  Abraham knew who the “LAMB” was that was to be sacrificed.

            This question also reminds us that in order to worship God properly we must have made preparation.  This preparation is not only to have all of the elements of worship present but also to have prepared our hearts and minds for that worship.


v.8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”


            I wonder how many of us would be mindful enough to give our young son this kind of answer if we were ever placed in this situation.  “…GOD WILL PROVIDE HIMSELF A LAMB…”  At least one commentator seems to think that Abraham believes that God will provide a substitute for Isaac but the language of scripture, the confirmation of Abraham’s great faith, doesn’t support that contention.  Abraham is proceeding in direct obedience to God’s commandment in spite of the great trouble this must have caused in his mind.


v.9-10 “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. 10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”


            Abraham has carried out the commandment of God completely.  He has prepared the altar, the wood for the burnt offering and now has bound Isaac, his son of God’s promise and prepared to offer him as the blood sacrifice.  Both the writer of the book of Hebrews and the book of James give us this action by Abraham as an example to underscore and demonstrate his great faith in God.


Hebrews 11:17-19By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”


James 2:21-22Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”


But the angel of God stays Abraham’s hand; he has been tried and has been found faithful.


v.11-12And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”


            God did not want Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.  God wanted Abraham to prove to him his unmoveable faith and unrelenting obedience, even to the point of sacrificing his son.  This underscores what the scripture tells us about God’s nature and how he desires us to obey him;


I Samuel 15:22And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”


Micah 6:7-8Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”


God himself tells Isaac that he continued to bless his father Abraham:


Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Genesis 26:5


v.13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”


            God did provide a suitable sacrifice just as Abraham had told Isaac that he would.  A ram with his horns caught in a thicket was made available by God and was made ready by Abraham for the completion of their worship at this place.


v.14And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.


            Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahhireh, a word that means “Jehovah will provide.”  This name was still used to describe this place in the time of the writing of Genesis by Moses.


Read Genesis 22:15-19 – God’s Confirmation of his Promises


v.15-16And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16And 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:”


            Because Abraham has not withheld his son from God and would have sacrificed him as commanded, he now repeats His promise and confirms that promise with an oath sworn by or upon himself.  The Hebrew writer tells us:


13For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.” Hebrews 6:13-14


            “…MULTIPLYING I WILL MULTIPLY THEE…”  Those that are willing to part with any thing for God, willing to go to whatever extreme is necessary to honor and obey God will have God’s blessings beyond man’s ability to measure.  As the confirmation of this immutable fact the Holy Spirit adds emphasis to this promise in verse 17 by repeating it.


v.17That 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;”


            This promise points to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was to come.  Zacharias, in his prophecy by the Holy Spirit, at the birth of John the Baptizer, confirms this.


Luke 1:73-76The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;”


            “…IN BLESSING, I WILL BLESS THEE…”  Abraham and his descendants, especially his spiritual children will be granted the greatest and best of the blessings of God that are available. 


That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galatians 3:14


The greatest blessing of all is the Messiah and his triumph over death; “…THY SEED SHALL POSSESS THE GATE OF HIS ENEMIES.”  The extent of God’s blessings to mankind through Abraham are beyond man’s ability to comprehend without the revelation of God.  Obedient believers by their faith overcome the world, triumph over all the powers of darkness and are more than conquerors.


Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39


v.18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”


            All of this because Abraham heard and obeyed the voice of God:


Genesis 26:5  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.


But the ultimate blessing being the opportunity for our salvation:


Galatians 3:16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”


v.19So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.”


            So from the place of sacrifice in the mountain of the Lord, later in the city of Jerusalem, Abraham returns to the area in the northern part of the Negeb.  He been at Gerar near the Mediterrean coast but now moves to Beersheba in the very southern most part of what became Israel and just on the edge of what we later know as the wilderness of Sinai.


Read Genesis 22:20-24 – The Generations of Nahor


v.20And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;”


            In a previous study we found:


Genesis 11:29And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.


Now news comes to Abraham of the family that he had left behind in Haran.  He’s was gone 25 years before Isaac was born and some years have now passed since then, how many we’re not told.


v.21-22  Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, 22And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.”


            One of the significant names we find here is Aram.  The region that came to be called Aram includes the city of Haran and the present day city of Damascus.  Aram is also a common name among the peoples of the area today of northern Iraq and southern Turkey among the Kurdish peoples.


v.23And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.”


            The name Bethuel means “house of God” in Hebrew and he was the father of Rebekah, chosen to become the wife of Isaac.  She was a grand-niece of Abraham.  God, through his providence, is preparing to provide a mother for Israel and the means by which he will continue the physical family of Abraham.


v.24And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.”


            As was common during the patriarchal and mosaic ages, men had multiple wives or kept concubines.  This is a practice that was sin then just as it is now and people have a problem understanding just how God could tolerate it.  But I think the Apostle Paul, specifically addressing the sin of idolatry; explains many things of this nature in his sermon at Athens:


Acts 17:29-30Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”