Hello there. Mario here, continuing our adventure to discover the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Last episode was epic! I hope you had a chance to listen. If this is your first time listening, I suggest you go back and binge-listen all six episodes from the beginning to get caught up. We’ve seen some amazing things through this journey, none more amazing than God delivering on his 25-year promise to Abraham to give him a son, Isaac.
We have come to know the God of Abraham – a faithful, caring, purposeful God that will not relent on His word. So now, are you ready to start the transition from the God of Abraham to the God of Isaac?
Let’s do this!
We left off on Genesis chapter 21, where “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, [He] did to [her] as he had promised… Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age… [Abraham was 100 years old when it happened, and]…. Abraham called the name of his son… Isaac.
Both Sarah and Abraham stand in awe of what God has done. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is Awesome! He gave them a child in their old age, demonstrating His omnipotence and Sovereignty – His limitless power and control over all things.
Now, starting in verse 8 of chapter 21, we hear of troubling story, where on the day that Isaac was weaned, that’s when a child starts eating solid food and detaches from the mother’s milk, Abraham threw a feast and Sarah heard Ishmael laughing. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and Hagar, as you remember, the slave woman who had bore a child to Abraham (we read that story back in Episode 3, when we looked at chapter 16).
That was Abraham and Sarah’s scheme to help God fulfill his promise and to this day that sin continues to plague them. Now Sarah’s resentment towards Hagar and Ishmael spurs up again at this party. So, she tells Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael.
Abraham does not like this idea and was greatly distressed, but He hears from God once again. God tells him (starting in verse 12), “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.”
Note that phrase, “because he is your offspring.” Again, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is faithful. He has promise to multiply Abraham’s offspring. And even though Abraham sinned in bringing Ishmael into the world, God will not relent on His promise. Ishmael is not the son of the promise, but God will still multiply his offspring because of His Word (His promise) to Abraham.
Scripture tells us Abraham obeys the Lord and rises up early, gives bread and water to Hagar and sends her and Ishmael out of their camp, into the wilderness of Beersheba.
This could not have been easy for Abraham. Just imagine sending your son away like that. I still remember the day we sent my brother away to serve in the military. It was an early morning too, while it was still dark. And it was tough on me, let alone my mother and father.
But to consider how Hagar must have felt just breaks your heart.
Now, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is the God of Hagar too. She knows Him— knows Him intimately. Remember, she tried to run away from Sarah once before. Remember? In that episode, Hagar met with “El Roi.” Remember what that name meant? — the God who Sees Me”
This is kind of the point of this whole exercise. As you face life, you must draw on your knowledge of, and experience with, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to face your own trials. When you feel alone, betrayed, forgotten, hurt, remember “El Roi.” Remember what He has done in the past. Remember His love and faithfulness. When you’ve messed up, remember how He brought about Abraham’s blessings, in spite of his failures and shortcomings.
This God is real. He is at work in our world today. He is working in Your life. Let us act accordingly. Let us trust in Him, fully.
The wilderness was not kind to Hagar. She comes to a point where the supplies she had were gone and she thought both she and the child would die. So, she puts him under one of the bushes and goes and sits away from him so as not to see him die. Again, when we read something like this, it is just a few lines here in chapter 22, but we must pause and consider the agony, the desperation of the moment. Put yourself in Hagar’s position. Perhaps you’re going through that kind of pain and desperation today. I hope you feel God’s peace and comfort, even as you listen to this.
Consider that these examples in Scriptures have been kept throughout the generations for your benefit, and to the glory of God. So, take your time to think about what you are reading in Scripture before moving on to the next thing.
Because here God intervenes in the situation once gain. He is “El Roi.” He sees Hagar, and He cares. But often times it is when we are at that point of despair that we are ready to receive God’s help. Therefore, consider and remember it for your own trials.
Don’t ask me why that is, God could have intervened with Hagar before this point. Perhaps our self-reliance must be completely destroyed. We are very proud as humans. But whatever the case, we must learn (by the grace of God) that He does not forget. He is aware of your circumstances and will come to your aid. Do not cast away your faith as you become weary in your journey. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is for you, if you have put your trust in Him. Never doubt Him.
Can I take a parenthesis here to say this is the key to contentment? This has been the theme of what the Lord has been teaching me in this season of my life. The key to inner peace— to true freedom. The key is to keep our minds on Christ— to act in every way in His confidence. If He is in control, why should I grumble about anything.
He who has ears to hear let him hear…
Back to our story. God steps in. Starting in verse 17, we read, “God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.”
What a miraculous, merciful turn of events! They are both saved. And the story tells us God was with Ishmael, that he grew in the wilderness of Paran where he became an expert with the bow. This is interesting because the wilderness of Paran is part of the wilderness where the Israelites will wonder for 40 years after their exodus from Egypt.
Yet another connection because we read here that Hagar found an Egyptian woman for her son Ishmael to take as a wife.
At the end of chapter 21 we have the account of a treaty between Abimelech and Abraham, to establish a friendship and settled the matter of a well. What I’d like to point out is that this is brought about, right there on verse 22, because Abraham’s fame as one who has favor with God is being recognized by those around him. “God is with you in all that you do,” Abimelech and his commander tell him, therefore x, y z.
May we also enjoy such reputation among those around us. May we be known as those who have been with God and walk in His presence.
So, we come to Chapter 22 then, a very important chapter, and one that is well known. The first verse is a life-changing verse. It says, “After these things, God tested Abraham…” Can you settle that in your mind? Yes, God will test you. He will test me.
Looking back at your life, can you identify God’s tests at different points? Not every difficult thing you go through is a test from God, so we need spiritual discernment for this. We need spiritual eyes to see and understand what we are going through.
Here’s how Abraham’s tests went. And gain, note the kind of test he gets. This is not what you expect. And in our lives, we must learn that God will do the unexpected. Do not reduce God to the way you think He ought to behave, based on your personal experiences. When we do that, we are really trying to take on His role as God. We try to make Him in our image, instead of what is the reality, right?, that He made us in His.
So, God says to Abraham, “Abraham… Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
And we pause again. This cannot be! Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes. He’s waited for this kid his whole life. He waited on God’s specific promise of a son for twenty-five long years. He finally gets the son, he is rejoicing. He will finally get to relax and enjoy him. Guide him in the ways of the Lord, and… no.
Now God asks him to give him up. His only son. The son of the promise.
This is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Chances are He will ask you to give up some things that you hold very dear to you. Perhaps is not as dramatic. In my life, He asked me to leave my homeland, to give up my career, to give up some of the entertainment I enjoy.
These are difficult things at the moment, but what awaits on the other side of obedience is the rest, the peace and the fulfillment you seek.
God is worth it. He is worthy of these small sacrifices.
That is why Abraham obeys. The very next verse says he “rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.”
He walks for three days and then sees the mountain God told him about. He tells his men to wait there and he and Isaac will go and worship and come back. That little nugget on verse 5 is worth pointing out. He believed he was returning back with Isaac.
How can that be? Well, Hebrews 11:19 tells us “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead…” That is the type of faith He had in Almighty God. And His faith was not in vain. It was, indeed, reasonable.
As Abraham went along with Isaac, the boy asks the father, “Dad, I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” That’s verse 8, and Abraham responds in faith again, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
And he was right, again. His faith was rightly placed. That is why he could act confidently. You and I can act in the same way today, if we put our faith in Jesus Christ.
When they got there, Abraham built the altar, put the wood, bound his son and laid him on the altar. Many clues in the passage suggest that Isaac was a young man already when this happens, so that it almost looks like Isaac must have also had faith to go along with his father’s plan to willingly allow himself to be bound up, which is worth thinking about (the next chapter, for examples starts with the death of Sarah at 127 years-old).
But whatever the case, he is bound up on top of the wood on the altar, and verse 10, “Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.”
Pause the movie again… ponder this scene. This is amazing faith in God. We must pray that God will help us to believe in Him in this way.
But as Abraham is set to kill the son of the promise, the plan is revealed “the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven [(verse 11)] and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
God then provides a ram that was caught by the horns in a thicket, so that Abraham can use it for the sacrifice to the Lord. Abraham called the place, “The Lord will provide.” This is that name for God many of you may have heard, “Jehovah Jireh.” That’s what it means the Lord will provide. Remember the song, “Jehovah Jireh, my provider…” This is where it comes from.
The angel of the Lord then reaffirms God’s promise to Abraham, “because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
But, we cannot ignore the obvious parallel between this substitution of the ram for Isaac and the most holy substitution of Christ on the cross for us. There on the cross, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob provided His only begotten son to die in your place—for your sins.
Our sins condemn us to death. Those are the wages of sin, according to Romans 6:23. But Christ, paid the price for our sin, and instead gave us His righteousness, that we may be saved, when we put our trust in Him.
Would you, if you haven’t yet, put your trust in Him?
I pray this is the day you do.
Until next time.