Most of this story centers around the Abrahamic Covenant. Put simply, a covenant was a verbal [or visual) contract made by two or more parties, which stated the benefits to each party and the consequences if it were broken. (Genesis 15:1-21) is the formal covenant and (Genesis 18:1-18) is the part of the covenant that included Isaac.
His name means "Laughter" and you can imagine a lot of laughter surrounding a 100 years old man and a 90 year old woman having a child!
Good question. In (Genesis 22:1) it says "God tested Abraham." God is testing the character of Abraham's faith, by laying the knife to Isaac, he would either help God break the covenant between them or [as we learn from (Hebrews 11:17-19) ] see God raise his son of promise from the dead. Nowhere in Scripture does God ever demand or condone human sacrifice and He will later judge the descendents of Abraham (the Children of Israel) for participation in human sacrifice! Satanic and fertility cults have slain humans since possibly the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It is so incredible to me that Isaac let his father bind him up and put him on the altar. Both Abraham and Isaac show us different sides of faith, but each has their faith strained to its breaking point. It's my opinion that their relationship with each other was never the same after this event. It changed their understanding of each other (for the better)!
This is one of several events in the OT that pictures something God would do later in history. We know that Abraham had his first son by Hagar (Genesis 16) and later has six sons by Keturah (Genesis 25) , but only Isaac was uniquely born (this is how Jesus was born, unique, "only begotten"). The point is, no other child could take Isaac's place or fulfill God's covenant with Abraham. (Islam teaches that Ishmael took Isaac's place.)
The other part of the picture concerns the altar. Abraham would not have stabbed Isaac to death (as some paointings and movies depict), he would have slit his throat and drained his blood into a bowl to be poured over the offering. God withheld Abraham from this gross death, but allowed His Son to finish the picture on the cross where He spilled His blood for humanity. God provided a substitute for Isaac (a ram) and He provided a substitute for humanity (Jesus) .
Q. Why would God endanger the life of Isaac and the faith of Abraham?
Q. Why did the sacrifice require Abraham's most cherished one?
Q. How does this story show us what it cost God to hang His Son on the cross?
Abraham could have withheld his most cherished. After all, God gave him choice of participation! But it's only when you put what you cherish the most "on the altar" that you can experience God's extreme makeover!
What needs to go on the altar tonight?
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