Whoever says the Bible is boring hasn't read Genesis 22. The story is a riveting one, about a man's willingness to sacrifice the most important thing in his life for the sake of God. Within the chapter, God says to Abraham, "take with you your only son -- yes, Isaac whom you love so much-- and go to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I'll point out to you!" And, amazingly he went to Moriah.
A triumphant example of faith sets the back of the neck hairs on end as the story begins. In contrast, it ends with completely different circumstances about the birth of his brother's (Nahor) children. At first glance, the ending showed no similarities. Yet we will discover that this real-life hyper drama between Abraham's life is existing in parallel with Nahor's life to bring two narratives into God's purpose.
As the story goes, God sends Abraham on a 2-1/2 to 3-day agonizing parent's worst nightmare road trip to test Abraham's faithfulness. He had two choices. Would Abraham choose to obey God or would he choose to save his miracle son that God had blessed him with at an old age?
In one heart-wrenching scene, Abraham's son, the designated burnt offering, carried the wood for the offering on his shoulders while asking, "where is the lamb for the sacrifice?" Not knowing the outcome, Abraham reassures him God would provide. When Abraham reached the mountain, he laid Isaac on top of the altar he built with the wood Isaac carried.
With tear-stained eyes, Abraham raises the knife, and an angel told Abraham to lay down his knife. God had provided a sacrificial substitute in Isaac's place. "Then Abraham noticed a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So, he took the ram and sacrificed it, instead of his son, as a burnt offering on the altar. Abraham named the place 'Jehovah provides'-- and it still goes by that name to this day." Genesis 22:13-14.
God had one more thing to say. He closes chapter 22 with a story about Nahor's family who lived miles away.
Genesis 22:20-24 -- Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother Nahor's wife, had borne Nahor eight sons. The oldest was named Uz, the next oldest was Buz, followed by Kemuel (the ancestor of the Arameans), Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. (Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) In addition to these eight sons from Milcah, Nahor had four other children from his concubine Reumah. Their names were Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
My first thought was, "who cares." I actually skimmed right passed it, but something nagged at me to go back. I determined that it was no mere coincidence that a partial account of Abraham's family ancestry is mentioned just after Jehovah Jireh (God Will Provide) presented the ram that spared Isaac.
Genesis 22:20-24 tells us that one of Nahor's eight sons, Bethuel, would eventually give birth to Rebekah. Rebekah would marry Isaac and their union together would begin a line of descendants to make Abraham a father of many nations, Genesis 24. Just as promised!
Another connection to Genesis 22 is found in Genesis 15:5-6 and Genesis 17. We learn from these scriptures that Isaac would inherit everything Abraham had and thereby grow his ancestry tree.
We know that child sacrifices are not what God is asking us to do. It was not even something he asked the pagan believers to do. He abhorred human sacrifices (i.e. Jeremiah 32:35, Leviticus 18:21, Deuteronomy 12:31).
I believe God trusted Abraham just as much as Abraham trusted God. God already knew Abraham's heart, but sometimes God wants to show us who we are on the inside when under pressure to carry us through the next trial.
This huge ask of God was also staged to give an imagery of God, himself. God, the Father, would send his only begotten son to be sacrificed so that we wouldn't have to. Jesus would carry the wood to the cross. It was us lying on that pile of wood, deserving to be struck down for our sins, but Jesus became the ram in the bush that took our place on the cross. Jesus was our substitute.
What promise has God made you? Do you still trust him to fulfill His promise?
Brenette Wilder of Lee's Summit, Mo., (formerly of Altheimer, Ark.), is founder of Kansas City Teen Summit, blogger at (wordstoinspire105953116.wordpress.com), and author of Netted Together (https://nettedtogether.org.)
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