The story of Abe

As we continue to read Genesis 22 many millennia later, we know it’s only a test. Approaching the passage as if we witnessed the vivid color bars of our youth, eyes, and ears assaulted by the loud wooo, this is only a test, yet Abe does not know. Genesis 22:2~He said, Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love (אָהַב ‘ahab), 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. (ESV) Isaac is the only son of prophetic promise. God is, therefore, asking the aged patriarch to sacrifice his great love and desire. Isaac is the son of a miraculous conception, where dust is blown out and life is given.

God’s request doesn’t make any sense, and there is no earthly way in Abe’s comprehension to harmonize this with God’s previous promises. When reading the Bible, we must pay attention when a word is first used, for it holds the key to unlock the other places we read it in scripture. So to understand what Christ Jesus is going to do in the New Testament on the Cross, we must understand the word (אָהַב ‘ahab). Here we find the Hebrew word love used for the first time. Moreover, we are introduced to a phrase in this verse, only son. Abe’s love for his only son and God asks for sacrifice.

I bet you are beginning to see the picture. How a father loves and gives up his only son. This picture is captured in the New Testament in John 3:16~For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV) This is the ultimate test of Father Abe’s faith. Will he in faith give up the child of his promised old age—his only son? He is to sacrifice on one of the mountains in the land of Moriah. This is a sacred place, listen to 2 Chronicles 3:1~Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. (NIV) Hear me, Jews believe the altar of burnt offerings in the temple stood on the very site of the altar on which Abe offered Isaac. They are probably right and Abe is immediately obedient, leaving early in the morning with two of his young men and Isaac (22:3). 



Strange

Have you ever had life not make sense? A series of events and then some time and nothing. We process life as it comes and here on the heels of incredible despair, stress riddled days turn to months or even years and you are still wondering. This is Abe. I know it is Easter and our savior has risen, but even in the Old Testament, way back before Isaiah said a son is born to us, named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) Predating even the law, a promise was made and two sons rivaled his heart only to send one and later required to give one. Ishmael is sent away by the Lord in Genesis 21. For close to a decade Abe has mulled over in tranquil peace, his relationship with Jehovah Olam, the Everlasting God. As his relationship has grown, apparently his love and affection for Isaac as grown as well. 

Last week’s episode shared how Abe learned that he could trust God and that the Lord would do as He has said. Has life ever moved swimmingly with all the fluidity of your hopes and dreams only to awaken from your watery dream with and question? No ordinary ask, this was more than a mustard seed moment and made even less sense because of the series of events that brought you here. When life seems Strange and doesn’t make sense, we need to do three things: Go, Trust and Reside.

Go where the Lord guides (Genesis 22:1-8). With Abe’s child of problem and promise, Ishmael sent away, the stage is set for the father of all faith tests. Here is the passage’s context. Genesis 22:1~Some time later God tested (נָסָה nacah) Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” (ESV). (נָסָה nacah) means to tempt or to test, so this story of Abe and Isaac, a boy and his father on a journey to answer the question of what is your greatest love is a test of Abe’s faith. It reminds us a growing faith requires testing. When God tests our faith, it stretches and grows. God is now going to ply Abe’s faith with maximum tension. Do you remember growing pains? Aching legs needing to be rubbed, as parents employ soothing words which often failed in comfort. If only Abe could have read James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV) Maturation in life and faith isn’t an easy process. 



Everlasting Father

In Abimelech’s eyes, Abe has gone from despicable to respectable. Father Abe is over his entangling sin of intimidation by powerful men and complains to Abimelech that his servants have seized one of the wells he dug. The importance of wells in that desert area can’t be overstated. When we were missionaries, we lived on the provision of God, who sent us the rains and filled our cisterns. No rain meant that we were without water. So, no bathing, cooking, or cleaning. Water is a very precious commodity. Throughout history, it has been used as a weapon to cut off cities and open gates. General William T. Sherman’s memoirs contain an account of Confederate soldiers poisoning ponds by dumping the carcasses of dead animals into them. Water is valuable to all life.

Genesis 21:25-26~When Abraham reproved Abimelech…Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today. (ESV) Abe said we had a contract, you and I. Acceptance of the lambs is lasting proof Abimelech acknowledges the well belongs to Abe. Abraham names the place in Genesis 21:31~ Therefore that place was called Beersheba (בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע Bĕ’er Sheba`) because there, both of them swore an oath. (ESV) Beersheba, which means the well of a sevenfold oath. It stands as a lasting memorial that this well is his and brings peace between Abe and Abimelech. Abe, he could have just demanded the well, but he goes the extra mile to keep the peace. Demonstrating Romans 12:18~If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV) What are you doing to keep the peace? This is not about letting the pot rumble until an explosion, it is about processing life as it comes, knowing the things that stir us up and navigating the moments that would spew onto others.

Genesis 21:33~Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah עוֹלָם `owlam). (ESV) This is the first time this name for God appears in the Bible. (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah עוֹלָם `owlam) is the everlasting God, he is eternally the same. Places change, cultures change, people change, but God is immutable; He never changes because there is nothing in Him that can be improved He is perfect.

Our Takeaway: Have you called on the Everlasting God? (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah עוֹלָם `owlam)He desires to move in your life today. It has taken Abe a long time to get here, a place where like Hagar, his eyes are open to God and His provision. Psalm 32:7~You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (NIV) Defeating despair requires that Walls are Torn Down by Remembering God can do anything, Refocus on obedience, as we Depend on God’s direction, and Rest in God’s protection. Why not open your eyes to the goodness of God in Jesus Christ.