Summary: You may not realize the wonderful truth that we live in covenant with the Almighty King of Kings. God’s covenant with Abraham applies to us.
"The Powerful Old Covenant (Part 2)"
Author: Dr. Neal Gray
Passage: Genesis 22:1-19, KJV
Purpose: You may not realize the wonderful truth that we live in covenant with the Almighty King of Kings. God’s covenant with Abraham applies to us, and Christ’s fulfillment of the New Covenant certainly applies to us. Christian, live more fully in the covenant promises with God.
In an earlier sermon, (see "The Powerful Old Covenant, Part 1," from Genesis chapter 15), I stated that the tenth step in the covenant-making ceremony was very important.
You might have thought, perhaps, that steps one through nine provided sufficiently to make a covenant. I mean, those steps were quite thorough and they were irrevocably binding upon both parties.
But step number ten needed to happen, even though it took place some time after the first nine steps. In one sense, step ten...
* Provided the necessary ingredient, and,
* Plus it demonstrated absolute seriousness to the covenant.
Our Scripture is the first section of Genesis chapter 22, vv. 1-19. And before we complete our reading, YOU WILL KNOW WHAT STEP TEN IS.
EXCHANGE OF THE OLDEST MALE CHILD
Step 10: Exchange of Oldest Boys
The final step is THE EXCHANGE OF THE OLDEST MALE CHILD. Tradition stated that in order to "seat" the agreement--i.e., to prove that the covenant was for real--THE PARTNERS WOULD EXCHANGE OLDEST SONS. Wow!
The sons would actually move into the home of the covenant partner to be raised. It was a painful event, but one that would prove the covenant was for real.
In the most painful test of his lifetime, Abraham lived out this last step of the covenant partnership. Genesis 22:1-2 tells us:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [i.e., test] Abraham, and said unto him, "Abraham!"
And he said, "Behold, here I am."
And He said, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." (Genesis 22:1-2)
==> I might have replied back to God. "God," I would have said, "are You sure about this?" But Abraham didn’t balk and Abraham didn’t talk back. HE KNEW WHAT GOD KNEW, i.e., that EXCHANGING SONS WAS PART OF THE COVENANT-MAKING CEREMONY.
The Sacrifice of Isaac
If Abraham was going to receive what God promised him, he had to give his son to God. So Abraham headed up the mountain, with the unaware and innocent Isaac at his side.
Eventually the young man asked his father where they would get the animal they were to sacrifice. "Yahweh-Jireh," Abraham answered. "God will provide," (cf. vv. 7-8).
The moment of truth arrived. He bound Isaac, his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. Abraham then raised the knife.
==> Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us that in his heart Abraham had already sacrificed Isaac, knowing "that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead."
Genesis 22:4 notes that "on the THIRD DAY Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." In other words, in Abraham’s heart Isaac had already been dead, figuratively speaking, for three days. GOD "RESURRECTED HIM," AGAIN FIGURATIVELY, ON THE THIRD DAY. "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son," (Hebrews 11:17).
HOW COULD ABRAHAM, THE FATHER OF ISAAC DO THIS? Scripture gives us a glimpse into Abraham’s thinking. Isaac was his only son. Yet Abraham knew that God had promised him that his descendants would come through the line of Isaac and outnumber the stars in heaven.
Hebrews 11:19 continues: He considered "that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead."
==> Abraham’s confidence in the covenant-keeping God was so great that he believed God would give Isaac back to him through resurrection. In effect, God, when He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, was saying:
"Abraham, I’ve seen your heart. It’s as if you’ve already sacrificed him. You know that I would have to resurrect him since he’s the ’promise child.’ And your confidence in Me is so great, you really believe I’ll do exactly that, so let’s save both of us some time. You don’t need to go any further in this ceremony Stop now. Lay down the knife. You’ve already passed the test."
==> Because Abraham was faithful in God’s promises, and did not withhold his son, Isaac; then God was sure of Abraham’s commitment to the covenant! As a result, God declares his eternal blessings upon Abraham and his descendants!
Our Parallel Sacrifice
I’ve thought alot about Abraham’s precious sacrifice. Abraham knew that God had promised that Isaac would be the son would be the beginning of a great nation. And yet, Abraham so trusted God that he was willing to obey God, even to the point of sacrificing Isaac’s life.