Isaac’s Question

Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together” (Gen. 22:8).

- Genesis 22:7–8

As with many other stories in the book of Genesis, the Aqedah (the “binding of Isaac”) in chapter 22 would have taught Moses’ original audience much about their own situation. For example, the Israelites in bondage to Pharaoh would have seen the parallel in Moses’ plea for them to take a three-day journey out of Egypt to worship on a mountain (Ex. 5:1–3) just like their forefather Abraham had done (Gen. 22:2–4). Furthermore, the patriarch’s sacrifice on a mountain prepared the earliest readers of Genesis to view Sinai (and later, Zion) as a suitable place to meet with the Lord of all creation (Ex. 19; Ps. 48; Mic. 4:7).

Long after Moses’ day, the people of God would again be called upon to obey the Lord even when doing so seemed absurd. Gideon was asked to face thousands of Midianite oppressors with only 300 soldiers under his command (Judg. 7). By himself Elijah had to stare down hundreds of the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Both servants could turn to Genesis 22 and find encouragement from Abraham’s perseverance and obedience. Our Savior, who knew the Scriptures so thoroughly, doubtless could read the Aqedah in this manner. We likewise can find motivation to persevere in Genesis 22.

Today’s passage further emphasizes the struggle Abraham faced when passing through God’s refining fire. On the way up the mountain, Isaac inquires, “Where is the lamb?” (v. 7). How crushed must the patriarch have been when the son he loved so dearly spoke these words? Yet despite any second thoughts he may have had, Abraham presses on, replying, “God will provide for himself the lamb” (v. 8).

Verse 8 should not be construed to mean the patriarch knew the precise way the Lord would supply his need. In fact, in pointing to Abraham’s confidence in the resurrection, Hebrews 11:17–19 suggests the patriarch had no idea God would later supply a ram in place of Isaac. He just trusted the Lord to follow through on His covenant promises even if it meant the one in whom the promise rested would have to die. In Genesis 22:8, Abraham has reached the point of no return; no earthly agent can stop him from obeying the Almighty.

Coram Deo

One commentator has said that after years of walking with the Lord, “God will provide” became Abraham’s motto. Certain of the Lord’s character, the patriarch is open to any of the ways in which God might choose to work out His plan. Do you trust the Lord so much that you are willing to do whatever He commands you to do? Look to Abraham to help make you willing to go wherever God might be sending you.

Passages for Further Study

Deut. 30:16
Isa. 55:8–9
Rom. 11:33
1 Cor. 3:18–20

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