Genesis 22

God tests Abraham

Written by Martin Ellgar  2013

Genesis 22
1Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,
7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time
16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,
17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,
18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

Nahor’s Sons

20 Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor:
21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram),
22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.”
23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor.
24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maakah.

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Genesis 22 rises like a monolith from the plain. It is like the pillar of stones that Jacob and Laban had set up to mark the covenant between them (Genesis 31: 43-55). It draws your eyes to it and captures your attention. Like a memorial pillar of stone, it has a story to tell. The subject matter causes the text to stand out from the surrounding narrative. It is the testing of Abraham, where God commands him to go and sacrifice his son.

Like a memorial pillar of stones that interrupts the contours of its setting, so with similar affect, chapter 22 interrupts the flow of the Abraham narrative. The setting of the text is in the midst of end times. At the end of the preceding chapter 21, there is a sense that the narrative of Abraham was drawing to a close or at least his life was entering a time of retirement. There, Abraham made a peace treaty with Abimelech, and stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time (Genesis 21: 32-34). During that period, Abraham’s wife, Sarah dies. Chapter 23 records Sarah’s death and Abraham’s endeavours to purchase a burial site for her. In the midst of retirement and sorrow, chapter 22 is firmly placed in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

Although chapter 22 interrupts the narrative flow, it has its place exactly where it is. More than likely, the text was written and introduced into its current location during the time of exile for the people of Israel. It was a time when the people of Israel were taken captive and led out of their home land and into exile to labour in a foreign land. It was during this time of traumatic upheaval in their life, that the people of Israel had to rethink their understanding of God, the meaning of their covenant with him, and what hope and future remained for them. For many of the Israelites their exile brought a sense of end times. Consequently, there was an urgent need to revise their history and their relationship with God in order to glean a sense of hope for the future.

Chapter 22 was specifically written to address the needs of a people suffering in exile. It was written as much for the descendants of Abraham as for all people who have lost hope and in need of salvation.

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A common understanding of a test is a means through which data is gathered about a person to assess their knowledge or skill base on a particular matter. Usually, such a test benefits the assessor. Since God is not ignorant about his creation, he does not have the need to test in ways that people test each other. A better understanding of God’s ‘test’ ought to be seen as a process of development. The main purpose of God testing anyone is to build faith in them so that they may have life.

The entirety of Chapter 22 is a test. It appears as a test simply for Abraham, but it is not. He is the Patriarch of the people of Israel, and in this text he represents the people of Israel. Therefore, the test is primarily for the descendants of Abraham and to all who suffer and have lost hope. It is a test that first enables revision of one’s life. In times of need, a revision of God and our relationship to him is the beginning of wisdom, and the beginning of healing. The story of God testing Abraham would have been given in a worship setting where questions and discussion would have followed to help bring out a better understanding of God and their relationship to him. Such stories where used for teaching, building of faith and hope in a loving God.
A superficial read of chapter 22 can easily lead a person to have an understanding that strict obedience to God can lead to blessings from him. That lesson would not have been good news for a people suffering in exile. They knew quite well that their disobedience to God was the cause of their exile. Chapter 22 needs to be studied primarily within its exilic setting and textual context. Only in this way can hope be developed for a people that are suffering.

The first conflict or challenge that comes to mind in the reading of the text could be gathered in a question like, “Is the Lord, a God who calls for the sacrifice of children?” The answer is a resounding, “No.” This question and others that come out from reading the text lead to a revision of Israel’s history and in doing so reveals the nature of God.

At that time, a child sacrifice was a rare occurrence amongst the nations. Children were considered a blessing and necessary for the survival of the family. Only during times of national disaster when nothing more could be done towards salvation did the thought turn to offering a child for sacrifice. At such times, the child to be offered to a god was usually from a member of the royal or ruling family. A child would be offered to a god in order to solicit salvation from their calamitous situation.

Chapter 22 is situated in the middle of Abraham’s peaceful retirement. There was no need for him to offer up his only son for sacrifice. However, the descendants of Abraham, the people of Israel who were taken into exile had suffered a national disaster. They had nothing left to offer God in their plea for salvation. So, had their thoughts turned to offering a child in sacrifice? A revision on the nature of God would have suppressed that thought.

There are many examples throughout the Old Testament where God had rescued the people of Israel from life threatening situations that were due to their own failings. They reveal the nature and grace of God. A succinct summary of the nature of God has been portrayed in the creation story (Genesis 1, 2, 3). In the beginning, God began by creating order out of chaos. He created the heavens and the earth. He created all living things, and he finally created humankind. God was pleased with all that he had made and he saw that it was very good (Gen.1: 31).

When God’s creation in Adam and Eve, sinned in the Garden of Eden, they changed the world in which they were living. Like Adam and Eve, humankind continues to sin and continues to change the world in which they are living. After judgement, God forgave Adam and Eve because he loved them as he loves all his creation. God continued to restore his fallen creation. He made clothes for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3: 21) so that they could cope in a changed world.

In essence, this is the nature of God; he creates, maintains and restores his creation, because he is a loving God. The restoration of life could come in unexpected and surprising ways so that life can continue in a changed world. Then it is inconceivable that God would ask anyone to sacrifice their child. This is the test, that we learn about God to develop faith in him.

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God’s command to Abraham began with, “Take your son, your only son”. It is clear from the scriptures that Abraham had other children besides Isaac. Ishmael was Abraham’s first born son through Hagar who was Sarah’s maidservant (Gen. 16). After the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah, Abraham married Keturah and had a further six sons by her (Gen.25: 1). Then the expression, “Take your son, your only son” can only mean a reference to the covenant between God and Abraham, and with his descendants (Gen.12: 1-4; 17: 1-22). Isaac became the favoured son of Abraham through whom the birthright and blessing would be given. He became the only son through whom the covenant would be funnelled through (Gen. 17: 21). The expression, “Take your son, your only son” occurs three times in chapter 22, in verses 2, 12, and 16. Its repetition points to the covenant as being a major theme in chapter 22. These verses also precede a direct reference to the covenant in verses 17 and 18. Altogether, a strong theme of covenant has emerged from chapter 22 that needs to be considered in any explanation of this chapter.

The people of Israel may have thought, when God was asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son that God was calling for the covenant to be annulled. Israel had sinned, which was the cause of their exile and the loss of their homeland with its blessings. Their loss, in effect amounts to the withdrawal of the covenant. They had nothing left. With further introspection of their plight, the people of Israel would surely have asked a question like, “Has the Lord, annulled their covenant?” The answer is, “No.” The question requires further revision concerning the covenant and its relationship between God and the people of Israel.

God’s mission was always to restore his fallen creation to life. As part of that process, God called Abraham and enlisted him and his descendant towards that goal. He made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12: 1-3), then to Isaac (Gen. 26: 2-4) and Jacob (Gen. 28: 13-14). The covenant was further confirmed with the people of Israel and retold in one form or another throughout the Bible. The covenant was an initiative and work of God. He promised to provide numerous descendants to Abraham and land for them to live in. He would bless them and cause them to prosper in every way.

The covenant was couched in terms of inheritance as in relating to a Father and his favoured son who would inherit the estate. In this context of inheritance, the son was expected to see to the welfare of all who lived on the land so that they too may prosper. The son was to be a blessing bearer of God’s goodness to the people on the land in the way that his father was a blessing to the people on his land.

The covenant does not finish with just the blessings from God to Abraham and his descendants, but continues with the most important aspect of the covenant itself. It continues to confirm that Abraham and all his descendants will be a blessing to all the nations, to all people, to all the people that God has given them to care for on his estate. The call of Abraham and the ensuing covenant with him and with all his descendants was indeed a call and covenant to become a blessing bearer of God’s goodness. The blessing of descendants and of land was merely the means through which God could cause Abraham and his descendants to prosper so that they could give from their wealth. The blessings were not meant to be kept for self indulgence but to be shared and passed on to all who lived on God’s estate. The primary purpose and intent of the covenant was to provide a means through which God could restore and bring salvation to all of his creation. The faithful fulfilment of the covenant by his elected blessing bearers was the means through which God would be recognised as the Lord and giver of life.

Like all people, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants have all failed to be the blessing bearers that God had intended them to be. They have at various times lied, stolen, cheated, and murdered their way through life. Such sin by the chosen people of God damaged his reputation as a loving God, a God who cares for his creation. Despite their sin, God continued to work in them in order to bring salvation to them as well as to his creation. A study of Jacob is a story of God walking with a sinner through his life, redeeming him and building his faith in a loving God. God developed Jacob into a blessing bearer and a source of life within his community.

The most recognised understanding of the covenant is seen at Mt. Sinai where God reaffirms the covenant with the people of Israel (Gen. 19). This is God’s initiative and work where he reaffirms the covenant with the people of Israel that he first made with Abraham. It is a reaffirmation of the covenant’s purpose, and that is to build the people of Israel into a nation of blessing bearers. God said, “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Gen. 19. 5-6). The beginning of that calling was first given by the Lord to the tribe of Levi at Mt. Sinai (Nu.3:6, Nu.8, Dt.10:8, Dt.18: 5). God had ordained the tribe of Levi from within the tribes of Israel, to be a holy tribe unto him and to administer to the needs of the other tribes of Israel. It was in that role and function that God called all the people of Israel to be a priestly nation and to administer to the needs of all the other nations.

At Mt. Sinai, God spoke through Moses to the people of Israel. There Moses presented the people of Israel with the two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments written on them (Gen. 20). They are not the covenant. They are in a sense memorial stones reminding the people of Israel their history of failings. The two tablets of stones can also be seen as a succinct aid towards becoming a successful blessing bearer. For example, the command “You shall not steal” (Gen. 20. 15) is more than the obvious. Like the other commandments it also refers to the blessings of God. By not passing on some of those blessings to people in need as God has intended, then that can be seen as stealing from those in need. God has at times accused the people of Israel for not looking after the widow and orphan (Jeremiah 22: 3).

The covenant and its blessings were not built on a foundation of obedience. They were given freely and in like manner were expected to be passed on freely. Genesis 22 nears its end with a reference again to the covenant with Abraham (v.17, 18), but concludes with a cause for their blessings, “Because you have obeyed me”. This causal statement is a test before the people of Israel. After a brief revision of the nature of God and his dealings with Abraham and his descendants that statement would be found to be not true. Those who strive to be obedient in all matters are in fact working towards their own salvation. God is faithful in his part of the covenant with his blessing bearers. He is the one who will work and strive to see its fulfilment. For the people of Israel suffering in exile, they would have been reassured that God did not expect them to make sacrifices of any kind toward their salvation.

The test of Chapter 22 certainly requires revision of the Mt. Sinai experience. There at Mt. Sinai the people of Israel received the Word of God delivered through Moses. It was their theoretical lesson to help them towards being a blessing bearer of God. It would have been meaningless if it were not coupled to their practical experience with God and being a beneficiary of his grace. Their practical experience as a people was their deliverance from bondage to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. Through Moses, God led the people of Israel out of Egypt. They did nothing towards gaining their freedom. It was all the work and grace of God. Through that practical lesson, the people of Israel would have learnt the power and dedication of God to deliver his people. The following text from the Book of Leviticus is part of the theoretical lesson given at Mt. Sinai. In part, it gives a warning and describes the outcome for disobedience. In most part, the theme of the text expresses deliverance. For a people suffering in exile the words of this text would sound as if God was speaking directly to them. It describes their very situation. They are also words that speak about deliverance and provide hope for them.

Leviticus 26:40-46
40 “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me,
41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin,
42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.
44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God.
45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’”
46 These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the LORD established at Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses.

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Chapter 22 has several references to the place of sacrifice, vs.2, 3, 4, and 14. These numerous references are a call for special attention to the meaning of the place of sacrifice. The traditional understanding for the location of sacrifice is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. God has called Abraham to this mountain as the place for sacrifice. Later, in gratitude to God, Abraham calls the mountain, “The Lord will provide”, and it is said “On this mountain of the Lord it will be provided” (v.14).

Another challenge for those suffering in exile could be gathered in a question like, “How can the Lord provide for us when Jerusalem is beyond our reach?” The answer is, “The Lord is with us, and he will provide.” This question leads to further revision of God and his ways.
The commitment that God made with Abraham in the covenant agreement (Gen. 12: 1-3) became also the reason for God to be with Abraham and his descendants. He went with them wherever they went in order to bring about the fulfilment of the covenant. On the way he provided for their spiritual needs as he did for their physical needs. For example, in the Exodus story God delivered the people of Israel from slavery under Pharaoh, and through Moses God brought them out from the land of Egypt. On their journey through the wilderness to Mt. Sinai, the Lord provided them with food and water. He provided them with manna from heaven as bread to eat and quail for meat (Ex. 16), and on one occasion water to drink from the rock that Moses had struck (Ex. 17: 1-7).
As God travelled with the people of Israel he revealed his presence to them in a number of unique ways, for example: “By day he went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night.” (Ex.13: 21). Again, God showed his presence to the people of Israel through a descending cloud on Mt. Sinai where God spoke to Moses who came on behalf of the people. There, God instructed Moses to have the people of Israel build a tabernacle, a place to be recognised as God’s dwelling amongst the people of Israel (Ex.25: 8). The tabernacle was a tent of meeting where the people of Israel could come and restore their relationship with God and continue to receive his blessings. Whenever the people of Israel broke camp to continue their journey the tabernacle went with them as the recognized presence of God. Only later when the people of Israel where settled in cities and towns did King David initiate an endeavour to centralise worship in Jerusalem. His successor, King Solomon continued that endeavour and built the House of God in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7, 1 Kings 6). The Temple at Jerusalem was a practical means through which the people of Israel could worship their God as a nation. It became the visible presence of God within the nation of Israel. It is clear and evident that the history of Israel can be seen as a history of God’s gracious presence with his chosen people wherever they may be. Therefore, for a people who are suffering in exile they should answer their test with, “God is with us, and he will provide”.

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Isaac said to his father, “But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (v7). In this matter, there is only Isaac’s voice, and not the voice of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, or the voice of the servants who are waiting for their return. Isaac is the first of Abraham’s descendants in the line of the people of Israel. He is the voice for the people of Israel who are suffering in exile and have nothing left to offer in sacrifice. It is a voice of bewilderment. The ritual narrative plays through as if there was no hope or alternative. Abraham continues to raise his knife in order to slay his son in the offering to God. Any situation of suffering where there is no hope can be seen as a life that has come to an end. Israel in their exile had perhaps thought that their life was at an end and in their bewilderment wondered what became of salvation.

Suffering can be overwhelming, so much so that any help given can be unintentionally overlooked and not grasped. The horrific account of the ritual sacrifice of Isaac can also be overwhelming for the reader whereby the significance of God’s gracious act can be overlooked. God’s grace is the crowning glory of chapter 22. It diminishes the pain and gives hope. When Abraham looked up he saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket (v.13). Abraham took the ram for the burnt offering instead of his son, Isaac. God had provided as he had always done to secure his promise to bring salvation to all people through the descendants of Abraham. God’s gracious act should be the focus of this narrative and then it becomes the means to healing.

God did not deliver what was usually expected for a sacrifice that is, a young bull, or a lamb, or a male or female goat. He delivered specifically a ram for the sacrifice. A ram can be also offered in other rituals, but considering the setting of a people in exile then the ram offering has specific significance. According to Leviticus chapter 5, a ram offering is required for a guilt offering where a person has been guilty of wrong doing against the Lord. Besides offering the ram, the person needs to make restitution of the things they have failed to do in regards to matters concerning the Lord. Through the fulfilment of the guilt offering atonement is made and the person will be forgiven.

The guilt offering would speak directly to the people of Israel suffering in exile. In their bewilderment of their predicament they would be challenged and tested to acknowledge their guilt. The ram offering points to their wrong doing against the Lord. They have been unfaithful to the Lord in their role as a blessing bearer of God’s goodness. They have been self indulgent with all that the Lord had given them instead of sharing it and caring for those people in need. The Exiles are tested and challenged to accept their guilt and to make restitution of their wrong doing for atonement of their sins. For them as it is for all people today, this is impossible.

God supplies the ram, and by doing so fulfils the guilt offering on behalf of the people of Israel. The ram is more than a substitute for the life of Isaac. It is more than freeing Abraham from his obligation to God. It is God himself coming forth with the ram offering as his own sacrifice on the altar. Then Abraham’s role becomes that of a priest with knife and fire in hand. He is ready to receive the offering from the Lord. By coming forth with the ram, God has taken the guilt of sin upon himself and furthermore will make the required restitution that is owed by the people of Israel. The people of Israel have been delivered from their debt. They have been forgiven. As a result of God’s actions, he has taken full responsibility for the covenant and will endeavour to fulfil it in new and unexpected ways in order to bring about salvation to his creation. And yet the people of Israel will continue to play a part in God’s mission to bring salvation to all people.

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The last passage of text in which Abraham receives news about Milkah and her sons appears out of place in the current Abraham narrative, and yet it is very much a part of chapter 22. It delivers the final test. A comparison of blessing is made between Abraham and his brother Nahor. Milkah the wife of Nahor bore eight sons to him. While Sarah bore only one son, Isaac to Abraham. Furthermore, Nahor gained another four sons through his concubine Reumah. Abraham had another seven sons through his concubines Hagar and later Keturah. Nahor had twelve sons in all. It appears that God had abundantly blessed Nahor with many sons, more so than Abraham. Nahor’s twelve sons stand in reflection of Jacob’s twelve sons, the descendants and people of Israel. Therefore, they might appear to the people in exile as if Nahor’s sons have been chosen by God to replace the people of Israel in a new covenant.

The final conflict that comes to mind could be gathered in a question like, “Has the Lord chosen another people to himself?” Once more the answer is a “No.” The Lord has always been faithful to his mission and relies on a people of faith to be his blessing bearers. Despite their sins and unfaithfulness, the people of Israel still have a part to play out in God’s plan to bring salvation to the world. Like a potter at the wheel, the Lord continues to rework the pot in his hands until it is tested and able to give life giving water to those in need.

God’s test of Abraham was specifically constructed to develop faith and hope in the people of Israel languishing in exile. Firstly, it did so through enabling a revision of their history and experiences with their God. This allowed them to see their own sin and guilt towards God. Secondly, and foremost, the test enabled them to see the faithfulness and grace of God in his saving acts towards them. God continued to work and develop faith and hope in an obstinate people in order that they would become the blessing bearers he had intended. At one time, God clothed Adam and Eve with garments as they left the Garden of Eden, so in a similar manner God will cloth the people of Israel with faith and go with them into a changed and different world.

7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

The boy Isaac demonstrates an aspect of what it means to have faith. He is a child who typically has faith in his loving father, and through it he is satisfied by his father’s answer and his leading. No more is needed to be said. Isaac walks together with his father in faith, believing in him as his provider and protector. In like manner the people of Israel are challenged to have a child like faith believing in a loving God. In this way, there is no more to be said, the people in exile and God can proceed together.

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It needs to be remembered that it was God himself who gave the ram for the sacrifice in place of Isaac. In doing so, God took on the full responsibility in fulfilling the covenant in place of the people of Israel. Although, Israel still had a part to perform in God’s mission to bring salvation to the world. Then, how has God proceeded to be a blessing to all people? From the Christian perspective, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God has fulfilled the covenant. He is also considered the faithful descendant in the line of Abraham. Chapter 22 is also very much a prophetic narrative looking forward to its fulfilment. Like Isaac in many ways, Jesus too journeyed to Jerusalem to be sacrificed. He journeyed on a donkey like Isaac while his disciples followed him. Jesus had faith in his heavenly Father as Isaac did in Abraham who was always with him on his journey and who was fully aware of the destiny of his son. Both Isaac and Jesus carried the wood on their back for the sacrifice. Jesus carried the wooden cross upon which he would be crucified in Jerusalem. At the high place in Jerusalem there was no further exchange, since Jesus freely gave himself as the guilt offering to be sacrificed on the cross. Jesus was crucified on the cross and died to cover the sins of the world and to make full restitution of what was owed to God by all people. Through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus a new covenant has been made. Instead of the people of Israel being the blessing bearers of God’s goodness, Jesus the Son of God has taken on that role. God through the resurrected Jesus continues his mission of caring for his creation and bringing blessings to all people. No longer are the people of Israel or their land necessary as a means to receive blessings from God for the sake of others. Faith in Jesus is sufficient to receive the blessings for eternal life. Jesus freely gives the spiritual blessings of forgiveness, love, hope, peace, and faith in a loving God to all people. Jesus has emerged as the faithful descendant of Abraham who fulfils the covenant. When the Pharisees accused Jesus for working on the Sabbath day by healing and giving life to people Jesus reply was, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5: 19). This verse encapsulates the essence of what it means to be faithful to God, and that is being a blessing bearer of God’s goodness to all of his creation.

It was once thought that perhaps Nahor’s sons were to be the new covenant people. Since Jesus and the new covenant, those who have faith in him as their Lord and provider have become the people of the new Israel. They are the disciples, the followers of Jesus. Like Abraham and his descendants before them, the followers of Jesus are called to be the new blessing bearers to all nations and to all people. They are called to pass on both the material and spiritual blessing that they have first received from God through Jesus. In this way they are the faithful people of God, and through them God is glorified.

Genesis 22 on first appearance is a text of terror, and yet upon further examination can be seen as a text of grace and that is the lesson accomplished. Amen.

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