By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac (Hebrews 11:17)
So far, in Hebrews Chapter 11, we have seen Abel’s faith in his offering to God, Enoch’s faith in his walk with God, Noah’s faith in his obedience to God, Abraham’s faith in following God into the unknown, and Sarah’s faith that God would give her the ability to conceive and bear a child in her old age.
Now, the writer of Hebrews is giving us a deeper look at Abraham’s faith. We saw Abraham embark on his journey of faith by following God’s command to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees and travel to an unknown land. Now we see the depth of Abraham’s faith and his commitment to obey God when the cost gets greater and his understanding is still small.
Hebrews 11:17 tells us that God was testing Abraham. God tested Abraham by commanding him to take his son Isaac, whom he loved, to the land of Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:1). Can you imagine how Abraham must have felt? Isaac was his son, his flesh and blood, the son of promise, the miracle son of his old age. And all of God's promises were bound up in Isaac. God had promised Abraham, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” God’s promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled through Isaac. Yet God commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Read Genesis 22:1-14 for the full and true story of Abraham’s heart-rending obedience to God. But don’t miss what our writer to the Hebrews tells us in 11:19. As Abraham acted deliberately and faithfully in obedience and fear of God, he considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead. Abraham had full and complete faith in God’s promise concerning Isaac. He was so sure of it that he was willing to obey God’s command to offer his son as a burnt offering. Abraham knew that God had the power to raise his son from the dead and he had faith that God would keep the promises He had made.
But God’s plan for Isaac was not death. As Abraham lifted the knife to sacrifice his son, the Angel of the LORD spoke to him, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad,…..for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Genesis 22:12). And as Abraham looked up, he saw a ram caught in the bushes, and he took the ram and offered it in the place of his son.
And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided” (Genesis 22:14).
By God’s grace, provision had come and rather than Isaac’s death, a substitute had been supplied. Instead of Isaac’s blood being shed, a sacrificial animal was offered in his place. With thankful heart, Abraham named the place “The LORD Will Provide.” He didn’t name the mountain, “The LORD Has Provided” because, as at least one commentator has observed, there was more to come. And the more that God would provide was Jesus Christ who came by His grace as the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for our sins (Romans 5:8). But now Christ has been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Hebrews 11:19 ends with the words, Abraham received him (Isaac) back as a type. By faith, Abraham relinquished Isaac to God, fully intending to obey His command to sacrifice his son. But God, by His grace, gave Isaac back to Abraham, in a figurative sense, just as if he had died. Isaac’s "resurrection" was a parable, symbolic of Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead. And in that Isaac was a type of Christ.
What a profound application of Abraham’s faith. God used this picture of the depth of Abraham's faith to show us, and help us understand, the depth of His love and grace and commitment to us, as sinners.
How does God desire to use your faith to show others His love, His grace, and His mercy?
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.