The Relationship of Abraham and Isaac

31 Aug

Never before and only a few times afterward does the Bible offer us a view of the relationship enjoyed by two individuals described therein. Notice how the text describes the relationship enjoyed by Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. In Genesis 22:2 it says: “…your son, your one and only Isaac whom you love.” In Genesis 22:3, 6 it is: “…his son.” In verse-7 the text continues with “…his father… my father… my son.” Again is verse-8 the text has: “my son… they went both of them together.” Finally, in verses 9 & 10 it concludes with: “Abraham… bound Isaac, his son and… took the knife to slay his son.”

Reading it this way, we would almost be shocked with its final sentence, had we not read the story before and knew its outcome. That is a problem, as it pertains to understanding the gravity of an event described in the text. We are already familiar with the story and its climax, so rereading it has little or no effect upon us. It is difficult to become personally involved in the event, and to understand the text from the hearts and minds of those recorded therein. Instead, we often judge what we see there from our own cultural traditions, which, more often than not, are poor tools for comprehending the passion of the characters involved, and the life changing perspective intended by the author.

Isaac is shown as accompanying his father, Abraham, to the place of worship (Genesis 22:3). This implies that Abraham had introduced his son to God, told him of his own experiences with the Lord and of the Covenant the Lord had made with him. They worshiped God together. How much did Isaac know about God? Did he have his own personal experience with him, or did he simply worship the God of his father? The text is silent, but this much we do know. Abraham loved Isaac, and Isaac loved his father, Abraham. Moreover, for three days Abraham mourned the death of his son (Genesis 22:4; cp Matthew 12:40). Nevertheless, there was no delay in doing what he believed to be right, and Abraham rose up early to do it (Genesis 22:3)

Isaac was probably in his twenties, perhaps as old as thirty; for the text’s description of him (viz. lad, Genesis 22:5) is the same as that used to describe a young male of military age (Genesis 14:24). In other words, Isaac was old enough to have resisted his father, had he a mind to do so. Abraham was about 120-30 years of age by this time, and would have been considered an old man. Notice what Isaac asks his father and when (Genesis 22:6-7). Isaac had noticed that Abraham had brought wood upon which the sacrifice would be placed, the fire to burn the wood and a knife to kill the offering, but Isaac didn’t see a lamb. Nevertheless, he didn’t mention it until after both he and his father left the other young men behind. It seems Isaac may have thought his father had forgotten the sacrifice (forgetfulness being a sign of old age), but, out of love and respect for his father, he waited until they were alone to mention it.

At some point, however, the whole affair would have been clear to Isaac. We don’t know whether or not Abraham discussed the entire matter with his son, and Isaac willingly complied to be the burnt offering. Yet, it does seem as though Isaac was willing to comply with whatever his father would do, because certainly a young military man could have overcome his father, who was old enough for Isaac to think the oversight of the lamb might be due to senility.

Therefore, I submit that Isaac also understood that the Covenant between Abraham and God was to be fulfilled in him, i.e. Isaac. It is because he knew this, that Isaac willingly laid his life down (cp. John 10:17-18). It is irrelevant whether or not he was privy to God’s request of Abraham in Genesis 22:1-2 (although Abraham may have disclosed the whole affair to him; cp. “God will provide” in Genesis 22:8). Isaac believed his father was doing what he thought he should do. Nevertheless, even if his father was wrong or deluded by old age, this wouldn’t prevent the God of Abraham and Isaac from carrying out what he intended to do through him, i.e. Isaac—the miracle birth, and covenantal gift to an old man and a woman beyond childbearing age—new life from a dead womb. Abraham trusted God for a resurrection (Genesis 22:5; Hebrews 11:19) and so did Isaac.


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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God


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