It’s been a long time since Abram left Haran in response to God’s promise in Genesis 12. He’s traveled through Canaan, witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, twice lied about his relationship to his wife, tried to rush ahead of God’s plan to build his family, entertained angels and even had his name changed by God himself.
Oh, and he had a son. Well. two, technically, but one was the son of the promise, born to him when he was 100 years old and his wife, Sarah, was 90.
We don’t know how long Abraham was able to enjoy watching this promise fulfilled grow and live and play around the family’s tents before the word of God came again.
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “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.” – Genesis 22:1-2
The sentences echoed ones he had heard before. Many years ago, he heard God tell him to leave his country, his family, his father’s house and go to an unknown land. Now, he heard God tell him to take his son, his only son, whom he loves and go to an unknown mountain.
The next verse makes a powerful statement:
So Abraham 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. – Genesis 22:3
He didn’t spend anguished night after anguished night trying to determine whether he should obey the voice. He didn’t put it off, hoping God would change his mind. He just went.
Along the way, Isaac, whom many believe was not the child pictured in Sunday school story books, wisely began to wonder aloud concerning the whereabouts of the lamb.
Abraham said that God would provide. Maybe it was a way of reassuring himself that somehow God would fulfill his promise that Abraham’s offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.
He found the mountain. God will provide
He built the altar. God will provide
He laid the wood atop the altar. God will provide
He tied up his son. God will provide
He lifted his son onto the altar. God will provide
He pulled out a knife. God will provide
He lifted the knife into the air. God provided!
A ram in a bush. A faith tested and found true. A conditional promise made an unconditional guarantee. Where the promise of Genesis 12:1-3 is predicated on Abraham’s following the call to go, the declaration of the Lord in Genesis 22:16-18 is based on a proven obedience.
“By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, 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.” (Emphasis added)
And there we have the next signpost on our Emmaus road. The first part of the oath focuses on the many. The second on the One – a promised one from among the sons of Abraham who would defeat his enemies and who would bless all the nations.
No greater defeat was ever handed to the enemies of God than the triumphant resurrection of Christ.
And through that, all who call on his name are indeed blessed.