the sacrifice of surrendered sonship

Genesis 22 continued – verse 11ff                                                                                                   

In these verses we reach the pinnacle of the narrative as we discover that Abraham is correct in that the Lord will provide.  But I wonder even if Abraham envisaged the manner in which God would achieve this.  Many commentaries speak of Abraham having a believe that God would raise Isaac back to life.  But we are not told of Abrahams thinking as the writer wishes us to sense the isolation of Abraham’s thoughts.

Again in verse 11 we catch a glimpse of the intimacy that Abraham had developed with God.  There is sometimes much made of the angel of God as the voice that called out but I do not believe we can read anything into this, for the writer is seen to have belonged to the Elohim tradition which saw angels as Gods messengers.

Verse 12 does not imply that God was taken by surprise that Abraham passed the test that was set up by God.  When God said that he now knows that Abraham fears God from this act of supreme obedience, does not imply that God did not know this fact.  In scripture we are told that God knows us before he formed us in the womb.  God knew that Abraham feared Him before this crucible of fire, but now Abraham is aware of what it is the fear God.

What can we learn from these verses?

1/ That God never takes his eye off us even if we are not aware of his presence or watchfulness.  God would never have allowed Abraham to touch Isaac with the knife but when he called out, his timing was exemplary.  Too soon and God would never have known Abrahams true intent in carrying out the command.  Too late and the knife would have plunged into the boy and it would have been a slaughter.  Never doubt the timing of the Lords hand.

2/ The real purpose of the test now becomes clear; it is not so much for Gods benefit but for Abrahams.  Abraham would have acquired a mental acquisition and understanding of fearing God but not the experience of fearing God.  After this journey up the mountain Abraham now has a practical experience of faith and an awe of God that has been seared forever into his heart.  Faith is not rational and can never be explained in this manner.  Faith can only become living and alive by being written into our heart through living obedience.

Faith that is acceptable to God is a living sacrifice that enables a man to do what Jesus did; that is a willingness to give up all that he held dear.  Cf Philippians 2  

3/ The ultimate purpose of this test is not so much about Abraham for a greater propose is being worked out.  That is a deeper oneness between Abraham and God.  In journeying up the mountain both Abraham and Isaac are brought closer into the heart of God for an intimacy has been established.  God has revealed himself as their provider who will never let them down for He himself will come through.  God desires us for himself and he will use circumstances to achieve this oneness.

To be continued

 John Knox
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K Reynolds (@kreynolds)

Reading your blog caused me to recall the answer Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego gave when they were asked if they thought their God would save them. They knew He was able to save them but even if He didn't, they would obey Him. In other words, they obeyed God unconditionally and Abraham did the same thing. Though we don't say it, how often do we attempt to bargain with God in our minds, doing something merely because we believe He will bless us and when things don't pan out the way we think they will, the first words out of our mouth are, "I did this for you! I thought you loved me! You don't keep your promises! (which actually means you're not doing things the way I think you should). Oh boy... this is a very thought-provoking blog, John as have been all them in this series.