Friday, December 14, 2018


For the week beginning Sunday December 16, 2018

Genesis 26:1-11

   It has been said that “fear” mocks “faith”, and that “faith” laughs in victory later on. Here in Genesis 26, verses 1-11, we see just such a case being played out, as now, Isaac is faced with the same test of faith that was given by GOD to his father Abraham, some 90 years earlier.
    Here in this passage we see the many similarities that existed in the lives of Abraham and his son Isaac. First of all we see that a severe famine has struck the land where Isaac is living, just as it had once happened in Abraham’s time. And just like his father before him, Isaac moved to Gerar where the Abimelech ruled over the nation of the Philistines. It was there that the LORD appeared to Isaac and urged him not to go to Egypt, but rather, to stay in the land that HE had given to his father to live.
    In this passage GOD is officially passing on the promise of HIS Covenant with Abraham, from Abraham to Isaac, and at one and the same time, HE is showing Isaac that he doesn’t have to be in Beer Lahairoi to hear from HIM. Here GOD makes the same “conditional” promise to Isaac that HE made to his father about 100 years earlier. GOD tells him that “if he does what HE says (obeys HIM), and stays in this land (where HE put him), HE will be with him and bless him, because of HIS solemn promise to Abraham, who listened to HIM and obeyed all of HIS requirements, commands, regulations, and laws”.  
    The obvious idea in this passage is that, the descendants of those who are obedient to GOD, will be extended the same blessings and benefits as their ancestors, if they too, are willing to exercise, a like, genuine faith in HIM, and remain obedient to HIM.
    Faith in GOD casts away all fears, because “faith” and “fear” cannot co-exist together, not even for a moment. And when that faith is genuine and strong, we are able to overcome all spiritual, physical, and mental challenges. Remember, JESUS says that we only need to exercise “mustard seed faith” to move a mountain! And so, true faith will always seek to obey GOD’s words first.
    And so Isaac abided there in Gerar, but like his father before him, he feared the men of Gerar, even though GOD had given him HIS promise that the future life of a nation would begin with his own offspring. And if that were the case, he would not lose his life in Gerar, and he did not have to let his fear of man cause him to sin (lie and deceive) for protection. GOD’s promise meant that, through HIS protection, Isaac would not leave this life until all that GOD said concerning him was fulfilled.
    And so, by way of GOD’s intervention, as soon as Isaac arrived in Gerar, he was asked by the men of Gerar about his beautiful wife Rebekah. They wanted to know who she was to him. Fearing the men, more than HE believed GOD, Isaac lied and said that Rebekah was his sister, instead of telling the truth that she was his wife, thus, he put his marriage to her, and her chastity to him, in jeopardy. This could have had a disastrous result, as it could have forced Rebekah to commit adultery. And we see that, even the pagan Abimelech had established a law against adultery, and recognized it as a sin in his kingdom (v.10).
    As the providence of the LORD would have it, one day the Abimelech peered out his window and saw Isaac fondling Rebekah. It was then that he knew that she was obviously his wife, and not his sister. And so he had Isaac brought before him and rebuked him harshly. Then, out of his fear and respect for the GOD of Isaac’s father, Abraham, the Abimelech publically proclaimed that anyone who harmed Isaac or Rebekah would be killed.
     Isaac’s temporary lapse in faith, because of his fear, made a mockery of the covenant promise of GOD. He thereby failed the same test that his father, Abraham, first, failed before him. He tried to justify sin with “human ingenuity” in an attempt to protect himself, instead of depending on GOD’s promise of protection. He thought it was alright with GOD if he deceived an unbeliever. However, the person who seeks to represent GOD, as HIS witness, must be able to do so, first and foremost, through their righteous actions and behavior, before the world. 

Genesis 26:12-25

   Isaac remained in Gerar, and that same year, he raised bumper crops that produced up to 100 times the amount of the actual seeds that he planted. He became a lot richer and his wealth only continued to increase more and more. He, as a result, was able to acquire large flocks and herds of sheep and cattle. He also bought many more servants to help him with his work.
    However, it is a fact of life that, with the success of some, always comes, the envy and jealousy of others. And so, as soon as the people of Philistine heard of and saw Isaac’s success in their land, they begin to try and destroy or ruin everything he had worked for by filling in all of the wells that he had dug there for the physical survival of his family and his animals (v.15).
    Here in this passage we see the people of Gerar clearly violating the king’s evict that they “not do any harm to Isaac and Rebekah” (v.11). Strangely though, we see in verse 16 that, the Abimelech, instead of enforcing his own edict, asks Isaac to leave the area, because he had “become too rich and powerful for us”. And so we see that even the king, if not jealous himself, at least feared the sudden success of Isaac, and probably viewed it as a threat to his own lifestyle and throne.
    Isaac, at the request of the Abimelech, moved to the nearby valley area of Gerar and resided there. He re-opened the wells there that the Philistines had filled in with dirt after the death of Abraham, and he renamed the wells, the same names that his father had given them. In addition, Isaac’s shepherds began to dig new wells and they even found a new gushing spring there in the valley.
    However, the local Philistines came down to the valley and claimed the new gushing spring as their own, and they argued back and forward with Isaac’s shepherds. As a result, Isaac named his well there “Esek”, which means “dispute”, and he left it to the Philistines.
    Later on Isaac’s shepherds dug another well, and again, there was a fight over it, and once again Isaac named the well and ceded it over to Philistine shepherds also. He named that well “Sitnah”, which means “opposition”.
    Refusing to let the Philistines wear him down, Isaac dug yet a third well, and this time, they left him alone. Isaac named the third well “Rehoboth”, which means “room”, and he said, “at last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be able to thrive here”.
    Even though Isaac never fought back in a physical way, psychologically, he frustrated and wore out his opposition and caused them to give up themselves, over time. It is that same kind of strategy that we saw Martin Luther King used in the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties here in the United States.
    Some time after his psychological victory over the Philistines, Isaac moved back to Beersheba where he grew up, and it was there that the LORD appeared to him a second time, on the very first night of his arrival. There GOD re-affirmed his promise to Isaac with these encouraging words;

“I AM the GOD of your father, Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I AM with you and will bless you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of MY promise to Abraham, MY servant”

    Here GOD is letting Isaac know that, wherever he goes, whether it be Beer Lahairoi, Gerar, or back at Beersheba, HE was with him, as long as he maintains his faith and trust in HIM, and obeys all of HIS precepts. Then Isaac built an altar to the LORD and worshiped HIM there. He set up camp there in Beersheba, and his servants dug yet another well.

Genesis 26:26-35

   After the conflicts over water rights had waned, the Abimelech saw an opportunity for a treaty to be reached between himself and Isaac. And so, he went to see Isaac, bringing with him, his adviser, Ahuzzath, and his army commander, the Phicol as witnesses. Isaac, who was a bit leery, asked him in so many words, if he had come in peace. The Abimelech replied, “We can plainly see that the LORD (of your father) is with you. So we decided we should have a treaty, a covenant between us. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we did not harm you. We always treated you well, and we sent you away in peace. And now look at how the LORD has blessed you!”
    And even though it seemed as if the Abimelech was taking credit for the LORD’s blessings upon him, Isaac accepted his offer of peace (he “prepared a table before himself in the presence of his enemies”) and they ate and drank in preparation for a treaty ceremony the next day.
    Early the next morning they each (Isaac and the Abimelech) took a solemn “oath of nonaggression” toward each other, and then Isaac sent them away. That same day Isaac’s servants came to him excited about a new gushing well they had just found. Encouraged by the peace agreement that he had just made with the Philistines, Isaac named the new well “Shibah”, which means “oath” or “seven” because they had made a treaty by solemn oath, just as his father Abraham had done when he named the place where they now lived, “Beersheba”.
    This chapter ends with a wonderful segue into the next chapter (chapter 27), as it highlights the disappointment of Isaac and Rebekah in their oldest son, Esau. Here it says that, when Esau was 40 years old he married, not one, but two Hittite women, Judith, the daughter of Beeri, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon, a double whammy against the plan of GOD.
    These two women made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah, and it showed how unfit Esau was to inherit the blessings of Isaac, even though he was the eldest son, the traditional recipient of the bulk of the father’s inheritance. This short passage goes a long way in explaining why GOD would later allow the blessings of Isaac to bypass Esau, and be bestowed upon Jacob, even though Isaac would foolishly attempt to give it to Esau anyway (Vs.34-35).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Saturday, December 8, 2018


For the week beginning Sunday December 9, 2018

Genesis 25:1-11

   Genesis 25, verses 1-11 chronicles the final days and death of Abraham the great patriarch of GOD’s chosen people. After the death of Sarah, Abraham was married again, this time to a woman named Keturah, who is indentified in the vertical genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1:32, as his concubine. She bore him six sons during the final 37 years of his life.
    The names of Abraham’s and Keturah’s six sons were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan (Arabic nations), and from Dedan came the Asshurites, Letushites, and Leummites, all future enemies of Israel, as well as were Midian’s sons, Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah.
    Before Abraham’s death, he awarded all of his sons, including Ishmael, gifts, and then sent them all off to live in the east, away from Isaac. However, he left everything else that he owned to Isaac, who was “the heir to the promise of GOD”, and as heir, Isaac was to stay put in the land of the Canaanites, which was designated by GOD as “The Promised Land”.
    After Abraham’s death, Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the “cave of Machpelah”, which Abraham had purchased from the Hittite, named Ephron (Genesis 23), as a burial place for, first, Sarah, and then ultimately, for the rest of his family. And GOD poured out rich blessings on Isaac, who settled near Beer-lahairoi, in the Negev, the place where GOD was known to have responded personally, to HIS faithful.

Genesis 25:12-18

   In verses 12-18 we find the history of the descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, who was Sarah’s Egyptian servant. Here we find a horizontal genealogical list of his twelve sons from the oldest to the youngest; Nebaioth, kedar, Abdeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These twelve sons became the father of the twelve tribes that continued to bear their names long after they settled in the various places around the area from Havilah to Shur, between Beersheba and Egypt. And although they all settled very close together in the direction of Asshur, all of the brothers lived in hostility toward each other, and, toward the rest of the known world at that time. Ishmael, their patriarch died at the age of 137 and was buried with his ancestors.

Genesis 25:19-26

    Here begins the history of the family of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. When Isaac was 40 years old he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and they all lived in Padan-aram before she was brought to Beersheba by Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, 37 years before Abraham died.
    Rebekah is one of several women in Scripture who were unable to bear children until GOD miraculously intervened. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and the unnamed mother of Samson, were all mothers, who experienced humanly impossible births during their lifetimes. Rebekah’s case, however, was unique in that, her pregnancy yielded “twin boys”, named Jacob and Esau.
    Scripture tells us that there was strife between her two sons that began, even before they were born, and in fact, while they were still in the womb. This, now famous, conflict continued on throughout most of their lives, and even carried over into the lives of their descendants in future generations. In fact, much of the suffering of the Israelites, who were Jacob’s descendants, came at the hands of the Edomites, who were Esau’s descendants. These storied conflicts are prominently chronicled throughout the pages of the Old Testament, from Genesis to Joel (Joel 3:19).
    Here in Genesis 25, verses 19-34, we see the very origins of this conflict between two brothers who, even in their physical appearances, were strikingly different (v.25). The LORD had already foretold to Rebekah that she carried within her womb, two rival nations. HE also told her that the descendants of her firstborn son, Esau, would be the servants of her younger son, Jacob.
    In this story of Jacob and Esau, there is some confusion among many people today concerning the difference between “birthright” and “blessing”. However, according to biblical tradition, and, in Deuteronomy 21, verses 15-17, the birthright is determined by the “order” of the births of the sons within a given family. It is the right of the firstborn to receive a “double portion” of his father’s inheritance. This is something that is laid out in the “Law that was given to Moses by GOD HIMSELF”, and therefore, could not be altered by man.
    In this account of the early life of Jacob and Esau, we see that, because Jacob was able to recognize the value of “the spiritual” over “the physical”, where his brother Esau could not, he was able to gain Esau’s “birthright” away from him, by way of his own willingness to let it go, and not so much by Jacob’s trickery.
    This act of aggression by Jacob had absolutely nothing to do with Esau’s “blessing”, however, because the father, Isaac, still retained the right to “bless” his sons in any way he saw fit. That is why, later on, when Rebekah and Jacob deceived an aging and blind Isaac (Genesis 27), and stole Esau’s “blessing”, they took something from him that they had absolutely no right to, whatsoever.

Genesis 25:27-34

       As Isaac and Rebekah’s sons grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, while Jacob was more of a homebody, or, as we might say today, “a mama’s boy”. Isaac loved Esau in particular, because of the wild game that he would bring home, which he loved to eat. However, on the other hand, Rebekah favored Jacob, who enjoyed staying close to home and helping her with chores around the house.
    One day when Jacob was cooking some “red” stew, Esau arrived home tired and hungry after one of his hunts.  Here in verse 30 we see the origins of how Esau got his nickname “Edom”, which means “red”, as he requests from Jacob, a bowl of this aromatic, delicious looking red stew. Jacob then cunningly replies, “All right, but you must trade me your birthright for it”. Surprisingly, a hungry Esau replied, “Look! I’m dying of starvation! What good is my birthright to me now?” Jacob then insisted, “Well then, swear to me right now that it is mine”.
    Then Esau foolishly swears an oath to Jacob, agreeing to thereby sell all his “rights as firstborn” to his younger brother. He ate the “lentil stew” (and so the stew apparently didn’t even have any meat in it) and went on his way, totally indifferent to the fact and ramifications of what he had just done, all because he placed no value on spiritual things, as his younger brother Jacob did.
    When Esau ceded his birthright to his brother Jacob that day, we are shown a picture of someone, who was seemingly, totally indifferent (didn’t care one way or the other) to the far-reaching effects, and impact of his decision. He seemed to have no idea that he had given up the right to become the father of the Jewish nation, GOD’s chosen people.
    Jacob, on the other hand, whose name means, quite literally, “the supplanter”, or “one who replaces”, would go on to father the twelve sons, who would give birth to the twelve tribes of the coming nation of Israel. This marked the beginning of the rivalry, in earnest, and it would forever change, and quite literally destroy, the relationship of their families for generations to come.
    Rivalries brought on by jealousy and deceit, are as old as humanity itself. The tragic case of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:6-16) give us our earliest glimpse of the destruction that these things can have on family relationships. Many siblings since, have contemplated, and even carried out murder, or suicide, because of their feeling of being unequal to their brothers or sisters.
    We as parents must be able to address our children’s behavioral problems early, in a positive way that emphasizes their strengths, and moves their minds away from those habits and behavior that can one day bring harm to themselves and to others. Our goal must be to alter their negative behavior, while, at one and the same time, preserving their positive self image.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, November 30, 2018


For the week beginning Sunday December 2, 2018

Genesis 24

   Genesis 24 shows how the providence of GOD is worked out in the lives of those who are faithful to him. Here we see chronicled, the special case of a man named Eliezer, a faithful servant of Abraham, and how he successfully answered the call of his superior when he was put to the task.   
    This lengthy passage can actually be simplified if it is broken down into four special and distinct segments, and we’ll entitle this first segment “the calling, “charge”, or “commission” of Eliezer (Vs.1-9), and any of those terms are applicable here. In this section Abraham charges Eliezer, the man in charge of all things concerning his household, with the even more special task, of finding a wife for his son Isaac, shortly after the death of Sarah. The aging patriarch wanted to ensure that Isaac wouldn’t end up marrying one of the local Canaanite women, after he had passed away.
    And so he commissioned Eliezer to go to his own (Abraham’s) homeland, to his brother Nahor’s house, back in Aram-naharaim, in the northern section of Padan Aram (Mesopotamia), located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and choose a woman from among his relatives there. Abraham also made Eliezer swear a solemn oath that he would never take Isaac to Padan-aram, but instead, that he brings the young lady back there to Canaan, which was Isaac’s promised inheritance from GOD. And if by chance the woman refuses to come back to Canaan with him, then Eliezer would free from his oath.
    The second section of this chapter (Vs.10-27) reveals “the faith and trust” that Eliezer shows in the “GOD of Abraham” to lead and guide him into a position to make the right choice for his master’s son. After receiving his instructions from Abraham, Eliezer loaded ten camels with gifts that consisted of the best of everything that Abraham owned, and set out on this 450-mile journey.  
    When Eliezer arrived in Padan Aram where Nahor had settled, he rested by a well just outside the village of Aram-naharaim. There he prayed to the GOD of Abraham to help him accomplish his mission. He asked GOD to show him a sign by which he would ask the women who come to the well to draw water, to give him a drink. If the woman answers by saying “Yes, I will give you a drink, and I will water your camels too” (it would take considerable time and water to accommodate ten thirsty camels) let her be the one YOU have appointed to be Isaac’s wife. And the LORD honored his request, and that woman turned out to be a young virgin named Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
    In the third segment (Vs.28-60), we see the success of Eliezer’s mission as he and his entourage, are invited into the home of Laban and his father Bethuel, who quickly concluded that Eliezer’s mission was truly a commission from GOD. In those days it was not unusual to see the brother of a woman negotiating along with the living father concerning her marriage, and that is why here we see, both, Laban and Bethuel actively involved. And so they entrusted Rebekah into Eliezer’s hand, and she went willingly with them back to Beersheba.
    And finally, in section four (Vs.61-67) we see the mission of Eliezer winding down to a conclusion, as they wrap up their 900-mile journey to Padan Aram and back. This final segment opens up as we find a, now 40-year old Isaac, who had just returned home himself from Beer-lahairoi in the Negev, strolling through a field meditating, when he looked up and saw Eliezer’s caravan approaching from the east.
    When Rebekah looked and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted and asked Eliezer who Isaac was. He replied, “He is my master’s son”, and so Rebekah covered her face with her veil. Soon after they met they were married and moved into the tent of his deceased mother Sarah, and Isaac loved her very much, as she was a great comfort to him after the death of his mother whom he had missed very much. Abraham was 140 years old at that time, and he lived another 35 years, and he himself re-married before he died and passed the torch to Isaac at the ripe old age of 175.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, November 23, 2018


For the week beginning Sunday November 25, 2018

Genesis 23

   At the end of chapter 22 we are re-introduced to Nahor, who was Abraham’s brother, and to Milcah, Nahor’s wife. They were still living in Padan-aram, a large plains area in Mesopotamia, 450 miles to the south of Beersheba were Abraham now dwelled. Milcah had now bore Nahor eight sons, and, in addition, Nahor’s concubine, Reumah, had also bore him four other children. Nahor’s youngest son by Milcah was named Bethuel, and he became the father of Rebekah, who would become the future wife of Isaac.
    Sandwiched in between this horizontal genealogy of Nahor at the end of chapter 22, and the marriage account of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24, we find the account of the death and burial of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who was, at the time of her passing, 127 years. Here the scripture tells us that she died in Kiriath-arba (later called Hebron), a city that is located about 28 miles northeast of Beersheba. There Abraham remained and wept and mourned for Sarah for an unspecified amount of time, before leaving her body and going to the Hittite elders to request a place to bury his beloved wife.
    The Hittite elders responded positively to Abraham’s request telling him that they would be proud to offer him the very best tombs that they have. Abraham humbled himself before them and said, “Since this is how you feel, be so kind, as to ask Ephron son of Zohar to let me have the cave of Machpelah, down at the end of the field. I want to pay the full price, of course, whatever is publically agreed upon, so I may have a permanent burial place for my family” (Vs.5-9 - NLT).
    Ephron, who was sitting there among them, answered Abraham and publically stated before all of the elders, “No sir, please listen to me, I will give you the cave and the field. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead”.
    However, Abraham, who believed that the land he was standing on, had already been given to him and to all of his descendants as a permanent possession, by GOD, did not want to risk any future confusion, or take-back attempts of the property, by any of the descendants of Ephron later on, after his death.
    By buying the property, Abraham would insure that the land would legally be his to pass down to the next generation of his family and beyond. And so, in essence, Abraham was making an investment in the promises of GOD, on faith, and as it turned out, this would be the only piece of the promised land that Abraham would actually legally own in his lifetime. By insisting on buying the property, Abraham was faithfully exhibiting that his hope was in the CREATOR of the land that was promised to him, and not in the people who legally possessed it at that time.
    And so Abraham paid the publically suggested price of 400 shekels of silver for the field, the cave, and all of the trees that were nearby. And he buried Sarah there in the cave near the future site of Hebron, which also later became known as “the city of David”. In fact, not only was Sarah buried there, but also Abraham (Genesis 25:9, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah (Genesis 49:29-31 and 50:13).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, November 16, 2018


For the week beginning Sunday November 18, 2018

Genesis 22

   Genesis 22 comprises the, now famous account, of Abraham’s “faith and obedience test” that is actually given by GOD to all those who profess to love, worship, and serve HIM, even to those here in this 21st century. However, in Abraham’s test, GOD instructs him to take his son, Isaac, to the land of Moriah (which means “bitterness of the LORD”) some 50 miles away (approximately 3 days journey) from his home in Beersheba.
    Mount Moriah is an elevated area in Jerusalem, then known as Salem, where Abraham once met with Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24). It is also the place where King Solomon would later build the first temple of GOD here on earth (2 Chronicles 3:1-2). By sending Abraham to Moriah, and with Abraham knowing the meaning and history of the name, GOD was setting the stage for Abraham’s greatest test of faith.
    Real tests from GOD often defies human logic, because, in order for a test of faith to be effective, it has to be composed of those elements that the flesh will vehemently be opposed to. The test has to present us with a genuine opportunity to choose between obeying the flesh (satan), or clinging to the SPIRIT (GOD). Through those tests, GOD is seeking to prove to us, for our own spiritual confidence, whether or not we are “true believers”, or just “professed Christians”.
    In order to serve GOD properly, we have to prove through our actions and behavior (not just through our mouth), that we love HIM more than our father, mother, sister, brother, children, or property here on earth (Mark 10:29-31), and be willing to give up any and all things (your whole life) for the kingdom, and for CHRIST’s sake, the way JESUS did for us.
    GOD never intended for Abraham to kill his son Isaac, but rather, HE was trying to prove to Abraham himself, if he would truly be willing to do it, if he had to. Our tests are never done for GOD’s sake, because GOD already knows the answer to all things. However, in order for us to serve HIM with complete confidence and faith, we ourselves have to know where we truly stand at all times, and how we will react in pressure situations when things aren’t going well, and we are beset with tribulations and persecutions from the world (satan).
    Several things in this passage confirm Abraham’s faith in GOD, and we’ll investigate some of those right now. First of all, GOD tells Abraham up front that he would be taking Isaac to Moriah to present him as a sacrifice to HIM (v.2). In those days, child sacrifices by pagan cultures, especially to the idol god Mollech, were very popular, and was almost certainly a ritual term that Abraham was familiar with. However, he also knew that it was something that his GOD detested and would never indorse among HIS people.
    Nevertheless, operating on total faith, Abraham got up early the next morning, saddled a donkey, and took Isaac, along with two of his servants and some wood for the sacrificial burnt offering, and set out on the 50-mile journey that had been designated by “the GOD of his faith”. We can assume that GOD requested this be done some 50 miles away so that Abraham would have at least three days to think about it, and have amble time to change his mind, and not go through with it, if he chose to. This was indeed, another part of the test.
    On the third day of the journey, Abraham could see from a distance, the place where GOD had instructed him to go, and so he directed his servants to stay where they were, and he traveled the remaining short distance alone with Isaac, and the supply of wood. He told them that they would go and worship, and would be back shortly.
    This was an astounding statement by Abraham that seemed to confirm his faith that GOD would keep HIS promise to him and would not actually kill the heir to that promise, which was Isaac, or, at worse, GOD would kill him, and then raise him from the dead. However, either way, his “faith reasoning” was that, he would not lose his son in this ordeal.
    Throughout Old Testament Scripture, and, in levitical law, the lamb is not only the animal most preferred for sacrificial offerings, but, over time, it has become the literal symbol of sacrifice. JESUS, WHO is the innocent lamb of GOD, voluntarily offered HIMSELF up as a sacrifice for all mankind. HE, quite literally, took our place “as payment” for our sins against GOD, past, present, and future.
    Here in Genesis 22, verses 6-8, Abraham places the wood for the burnt offering on “Isaac’s shoulder” and he took a lighted torch and a knife in his own hands, and the two of them begin to “walk to their final destination” (this is reminiscent of JESUS’ death walk from the courthouse to Golgotha, bearing HIS OWN cross). It was then that Isaac said to his father, “We have the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice? Here Abraham responds with another statement of faith, “GOD will provide a lamb my son”.
    When they arrived at the place where GOD had told Abraham to go, he built an altar to the LORD and placed the supply of wood on it. He then tied Isaac up, and laid him on top of the wood and took his knife and raised it up over his head to kill him as a sacrifice to the LORD. At that moment “The ANGEL of the LORD”, which is a theophany of CHRIST in the Old Testament, shouted out to Abraham from Heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!”
    Abraham immediately stopped his downward motion with the knife and said, “I’m listening” (Vs.9-11). The ANGEL then told Abraham to “Lay down the knife. Do not hurt the boy in any way, for “now I know” that you truly fear GOD. You have not withheld even your beloved son from ME”.
    In the Old Testament, prophets were reformers of sort, who, not only delivered GOD’s Word, but also, at one and the same time, challenged the people to actually serve the LORD and obey HIS Word. They were called “men of GOD” or “seers”, and were distinguished by their holy lifestyle before men, under GOD. They were able to faithfully see beyond that which is natural in the eyes of man.
    JESUS wholly fitted the role of the Old Testament prophet. In fact, in the Old Testament, the future CHRIST served in the role of a prophet as “The ANGEL of the LORD” and even “The COMMANDER of the LORD’s Army” in Joshua 5:13-15. As a prophet, HE delivered many messages from GOD the FATHER to men such as Abraham here in Genesis 22:11-17, to Moses in Exodus 3:2-3 (the burning bush), to Joshua, to Baalam in Numbers 22:21-35, and, to the Israelites in general at Bokim  in Judges 2:1-5.
    The Scriptures teaches us that “the pre-incarnate JESUS” and “the incarnate JESUS” was not “all-knowing” (omniscient) as GOD the FATHER is. We see that here in this passage in the ANGEL’s response to Abraham, were HE says “now I know” that you truly fear GOD”, meaning that HE didn’t know how Abraham would respond to his test from GOD the FATHER beforehand. Also, JESUS tells us HIMSELF in Matthew 24:36 that HE was not all-knowing at that stage in HIS humanity, but was not granted omni-power, in Heaven and on earth, until just before HIS ascension back into Heaven, as “the Resurrected JESUS”, and SAVIOR of the world (Matthew 28:18).
    In verses 13-14 we see Abraham looking up and seeing a ram (symbolic of CHRIST) caught in a bush, a “sacrificial substitute” to replace his son, Isaac (mankind), on the altar of GOD. Here the concept of how GOD would later bring salvation to man, through HIS only begotten SON, CHRIST JESUS, is being introduced into the world. And Abraham named the place “The LORD will provide”. This name gave rise to a future popular Jewish proverb that would state “On the mountain of the LORD, it will be provided”.
    Then “The ANGEL of the LORD” spoke again to Abraham saying, “This is what the LORD says: “Because you have obeyed ME and have not withheld even your beloved son, I swear by MY OWN SELF that I will bless you richly, I will multiply your descendants into countless millions, like the stars of the sky and the sands on the seashore, they will conquer their enemies, and through your descendants, all the nations of the earth will be blessed---all because you have obeyed ME”.
    Abraham then traveled back to Beersheba and lived there for a long time. As this chapter ends, we see GOD already making preparations in the life of young Isaac, and we are introduced to his future wife, Rebekah, who had already been born to the youngest son of Abraham’s brother, Nahor, who was now living in the east. Rebekah’s father’s name was Bethuel. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander