Abimelech, Isaac, and Ishmael
1. Abraham’s sin of saying Sarah was his sister to protect himself, not only diminished his view God, it elevated his view of himself. I had not considered that the flip side of not trusting in God is trusting in oneself.
Application: This week, my dad decided to move in with us. The unknown of how it will go tempt me to be fearful. Since God doesn’t call us to do something and then expect us to accomplish it in our own strength, I’m making a conscious effort to put my whole trust in Him, and not fall back on my own grossly limited understanding and strength. Result = peace. And I’m looking forward to it.
2. What in the notes challenged your thinking? “Do you have anxiety about your children? Will you pray and trust God, believing that He sees you and your family and cares more than you can imagine?” The example of God’s concern and care for Ishmael only comforts me up to a point. Since I can see the evil caused by his offspring, it does not seem like a blessing. It concerns me that so many of the patriarchs’ offspring turned away from their upbringing. I look for any encouragement to cling to where my children and grandchildren are concerned. Abraham had specific promises that were fulfilled including they will be exiled for 400 years. Could Abraham have bargained with God concerning the exile the same way he bargained with God about Sodom?
3. a. God was testing Abraham’s trust that He would do what He promised – make a great nation of Isaac whose conception and birth were the result of a promise and a miracle.
b. I believe it was a test of trust and obedience for Abraham, and for Isaac. Josephus, the Jewish historian, said Isaac was 25 when this occurred. So, this example of obedience and trust profoundly affected his life and his understanding of its importance in God’s plan. Surely, he had heard his family’s history, the promises, the encounters with God, the mistakes, and the challenges. This test did not drive Abraham and Isaac away from each other or away from God. It likely brought them closer to each other and to God.
4. a. “your only son”; “whom you love”
- early in the morning Gen. 22:3
- cut enough wood for a burnt offering Gen. 22:3
- set out for the place God told him to go Gen. 22:3
- told the servants to stay behind while he and Isaac went to worship and offer the sacrifice Gen. 22:5
- took the wood for burnt offering and put it on Isaac’s back Gen. 22:6
- Abraham carried the knife and the fire himself Gen. 22:6
- Abraham built and altar and arranged the wood on it. Gen. 22:9
- tied up Isaac and placed him on the altar Gen. 22:9
- took the knife and raised his hand to kill Isaac Gen. 22:10
5. a. Obedience in the land of the living.
- Love others instead of trying to fix them. (Look for their virtues instead of their flaws.)
- Take my aging father into our house and lovingly care for him.
- Love and help my son care for his large family and ailing wife.
- Write. And share what I write. (Sharing it is the most difficult part.)
6. a. On first reading, there isn’t much to go on concerning Abraham’s love for and personal relationship with Isaac. It seems we are being asked to read between the lines. Well here goes:
- God says, “take the son whom you love” Gen. 22:2
- The young man, Isaac, was apparently willing to go with his dad “early in the morning”. Having had three sons, that’s a biggie. Or maybe he made him go. They were camping along the way, since it took three days to get there.
- “My father.” “Here I am, son.” – dialog in Gen. 22:7
- The Lord said, “…since you have done this and have not withheld [from Me] or begrudged [giving Me] your son, your only son,” Gen. 22:16 AMP
- They must have worshiped and offered sacrifices together before, since Isaac asks, “where is the sacrifice?” I do wonder, though, why it took him three days to realize they didn’t bring one.
Note: I hope Isaac heard God’s audible voice along with Abraham. Otherwise, I cannot imagine going to a camp meeting with my dad again after that time he was going to slit my throat and burn my corpse in a deserted place. I also wonder what Isaac thought about his dad sending Abraham away, even though he likely knew God said to do so. Children wonder about things. It would have crossed his mind that Abraham might decide one day — or be directed by God — to send him away, too.
Since Abraham likely spent a great deal of time with Isaac, I think it is safe to assume he shared with him all of his encounters with God, and how many years he and Sarah waited for and desperately longed for a son. Perhaps that was enough to overcome any doubts that might otherwise arise. Abraham’s love for his son was doubtless evident throughout Isaac’s life prior to this point.
This incident certainly proved to Isaac that Abraham put God first.
b. Once again, we are asked to read between the lines.
If Isaac was willingly laying down his life like Christ as the additional scripture references for this question imply, why did Abraham bind Isaac? There is no mention that Abraham informed Isaac about God’s instructions.
That said, this story contains much symbolism that foreshadows Christ’s crucifixion:
- The three day journey – Jesus was raised on the third day.
- The location of this sacrifice is considered to be the same area as Calvary/Golgotha and Solomon’s temple.
- Isaac bore the wood for the sacrifice on his own back. Jesus was forced to carry the cross on which He was crucified. (John 19:17)
- Abraham’s faith was strong enough to believe that God would raise Isaac up even if he did die… (Hebrews 11:19) Just as God later raised Christ from the dead.
- At Abraham’s advanced age and if Isaac was in fact 25, as believed, it seems tying up a young man against his will would have proved quite difficult. So it is assumed that Isaac was willingly laying down his life just as Jesus did.
- God supplied a ram to die in the place of Isaac. Jesus died in our place.
7. a. The threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite which David bought to offer sacrifices to the Lord. This is the place the Lord told the Angel of the Lord to stop the plague. It is also the place Solomon built his temple.
b. Like God, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his one son. He believed God’s promise that nations would come from him, and knew that Isaac was the son through whom this promise would be accomplished. He believed not even the death of Isaac could thwart God’s plan. What amazing faith and obedience!
Today, since we have the word of God, we are encouraged by pastors and teachers to judge everything by it. It is amazing to me that Abraham was convinced he had heard from God with regard to sacrificing Isaac. Genesis 22:1-2 says God spoke to Abraham, calling him by name. It must have been audible or otherwise unmistakably God speaking. As far as the scriptures tell us, Abraham did not question or argue. He had come a long way.
I desire to learn to hear His voice unmistakably. I will say there have been times I know that I know, but other times I find it necessary to test the spirits. There have also been a couple of times I thought I was certain, and in retrospect, it doesn’t appear that I did.
- Genesis 22:1 and Hebrews 11:17 say God tested Abraham.
- Genesis 22:9-10 and Hebrews 11:17 – Abraham was about to sacrifice his son.
- Genesis 22:18 and Hebrews 11:18 – the descendants promised to Abraham would come through his son Isaac.
- Genesis 22:12 and Hebrews 11:19 – Abraham received his son back from the dead, so to speak, because he was about to sacrifice Isaac when God stopped him and provided a substitution.
b. The love between Abraham and Isaac brought joy, Isaac was the product of life from himself and Sarah whose bodies were as good as dead due to advanced age, and God spoke saying don’t do it when Abraham took the knife in hand. There is also joy in obedience when you know and trust the faithfulness of God.
c. Jesus knew the divine purpose for which He must endure the cross. This plan had been in place for ages and generations, so although he understood what it would cost him, He took joy knowing the victorious outcome.
d. I experienced unexpected joy as a result of giving up a house that I loved. Some wonderful relationships are developing. The sacrifice continues daily as the new house remains full of challenges exacerbated by a shortage of finances. Knowing that this is the will of God concerning us gives us the strength to persevere. A new sacrifice has recently been added, but I look forward to it, knowing that there will be joy in meeting those challenges as well. Interwoven throughout the sacrifices, I can see God fulfilling desires of my heart. I could not and would not have designed this plan on my own, but God’s imagination in weaving this three dimensional tapestry, is mind boggling.
9. a. Substitute – serves to take the place of, instead of, something else.
b. A ram, caught by the horns.
c. His only son.
d. I responded to His knock at the door of my heart, opened the door, invited Him in, and realizing I needed a redeemer I accepted the gift of a clean, white garment of righteousness.
10. a. Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught in a thicket. He (after untying Isaac, no doubt), sacrificed the ram in worship. So, if God gives me a new command, stop what I was about to do, look around for the substitute. This situation was a test, so I think there wouldn’t likely be a change in plan or a substitute otherwise. The main thing Abraham did was follow-through on the plan to worship on that mountain.
b. God said:
- I will bless you
- I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens & the sand on the seashore.
- You heir will possess the gate of his enemies
- In your Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed
11. a. Isaac was a living sacrifice in that he did not have to die, but he came close to being a sacrifice. Abraham lived his life as a living sacrifice. He left his home and family when God told him to go. He was obedient throughout his life, yielding his right to choose the best land to his nephew Lot. His ultimate test and sacrifice was his willingness to sacrifice his only son, whom he dearly loved.
b. One of my friends was very ill with Crohn’s disease. God touched her and gave her life back to her. She decided to give it back to Him. She began by ministering to children living in a trailer park. She recruited volunteers to help tutor kids, raised funds for school supplies, taught classes on nutrition, and taught them that Jesus loves them. They were able to celebrate the first high school graduates from that neighborhood in over two decades.
c. Be obedient – doing the things God has called me to do. Serve my husband and my family, offering help and encouragement even when I feel like complaining. Write.
a. Abraham purchased a cave and the surrounding land as a burial site for Sarah.
b. He purchased land in Canaan, the land God promised to him and his descendants forever.
The older I get, the less important things are to me. They require maintenance, cleaning, and space. Many of them aren’t useful. Older family members keep giving me things that were once important to them. I feel a sense of obligation to hang on to them, although most of the “stuff” has become more of a burden than a blessing.
I can’t seem to get a handle on this question as it relates to my faith in God and His promises to me. He has always provided for us. In fact, most years when we do our taxes, I can’t imagine how we managed to feed ourselves, pay our bills, and stay out of debt.
I believed for years giving was all about giving to support “the church” i.e. the minister’s salary and a commercial building. Then I realized the new testament talks about helping each other. So most of my giving these days is to help a struggling friend who lost her full-time job several years ago and has been under-employed ever since; to help a friend who spends hours every day feeding the poor; and to a ministry that provides housing, training, and assistance and training to men released from prison.
13. The test Abraham underwent is difficult to imagine. It challenges me once again to judge my own life. What am I unwilling to sacrifice? Do I truly trust God and believe His promises? Although I do believe, Lord, help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24b)
Study Question posts are updated daily (ideally) until all of the questions are answered. I am a BSF student – a work in progress – not a theologian. Comments are welcome and encouraged.
What did you learn from this lesson? What did you like or dislike about it?