Summary: Abraham received righteousness on account of what he believed; What was is that Abraham believed? Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac is a picture of what Christians believe the Gospel.
Genesis: What Did Abraham Believe?
We are going to take some time to look at scarlet threads of the Gospel message which are woven throughout the Old Testament. The book of Genesis is the book of beginnings, In the beginning, God created the earth and all that is in the universe, including Adam. Adam failed to keep God’s Word and covenant; by the time of Noah, the world was so exceedingly sinful that God destroyed the whole world except Noah and His family. In Genesis 15:6, God “cut a covenant” with Abraham (around 2000 B.C.), and in that verse we read: “And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” What was it that Abraham believed that God would put righteousness on Abraham’s account (and on ours) instead of sinfulness? We are going to examine that in light of Genesis 22.
Genesis 22:1-2 reads: “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 2 Then He said, "Take now 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."
God often places his saints in extreme circumstances in order to prove or strengthen the quality of our faith, doesn’t He? And that’s what is happening to Abraham. He is taking a three day journey toward a mountain outside a city called Salem, later to be called Jerusalem)
The first thing to see in respect to what Abraham believed is that he believed in a supernatural birth; the evidence of that belief was in this one son, his only son Isaac. The birth of Isaac had been a miracle because Sarah, his mother was 90 years old, and Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. Isaac means”laughter”: his birth was so miraculous, so unusual, beyond the natural for a couple nearing their 100th birthdays, that it caused the parents to laugh; it gave them supernatural joy. Their joy was so great, it brought tears to their eyes.
One day more than 2,000 years later, God would supernaturally bring HIS only begotten Son into the world in the flesh. He would be born of a virgin, impregnated not by a man but by God’s Spirit so that he would not inherit man’s sinful nature passed down from Adam and Abraham. His name would be Yeshua, Jesus, Savior, and he would be circumcised just like Abraham and all the descendants in between in order to prove that Jesus was still honoring the same covenant that God made with Abraham. We read in Luke that Jesus’ birth brought “exceeding joy” to this earth.
So Abraham had received his miracle son Isaac, because he believed God could and would give a son supernaturally and now God says to him in the end of vs. 2, take this miracle son and: “Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
Now this sounds atrocious and gruesome to us in our present day society but it was not that unusual, though certainly not Godly, in Abraham’s time. Many ancient societies throughout history took part in human sacrifice and still do. These sacrifices were offered in many different ways. Most were slaughtered under the knife; some were burned; some were drowned; some were buried alive, some were pushed down the stairs of a massive pyramid temple. In many ancient cultures parents would sacrifice their own children. For a while, some Israelites were worshiping the false god Molech and sacrificed their children.
Today parents sacrifice their own children throughout the world; they sacrifice them to the god of selfishness, the god of fear, the god of economics, to the so-called god of choice. They still sacrifice their children under the knife, but it’s the doctor’s knife, not the parents’: their sacrifice is called abortion. Abraham prepared himself to sacrifice his only son.
Look at verses 3-10: “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."
6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together. 9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.”