1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 3 So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together. 7 Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together. 9 When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” 12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.” 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn,” this is the Lord’s declaration: “Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. 18 And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.” 19 Abraham went back to his young men, and they got up and went together to Beer-sheba. And Abraham settled in Beer-sheba.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
“And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.” —Genesis 22:18
April and I have four children under the age of eight. Needless to say, we talk about obedience with at least one of them every single day. We know how significant it is for them to learn the importance of obeying while they’re young, and we try to express the long-term effects of obedience and disobedience.
Having children is a great daily reminder of how important obedience is to God. Scripture reveals lesson after lesson on the topic—some instances where obedience leads to blessing and others where disobedience leads to sin, failure, and harm.
Genesis 22 shares one of the greatest biblical examples of obedience. Today, we’ll glean three truths from this text.
1. Stay the course.
You’ll find a version of this story in almost every children’s Bible. It’s also been acted out dramatically and scripted for film and television.
It’s often overlooked that Abraham traveled with Isaac for three days to Moriah (verse 4). Three days of opportunity to change his mind. Three days to debate with God about following through with His command. Three days to become angry or bitter as a result of his current circumstance.
This wasn’t impulsive obedience. Abraham and Isaac didn’t just stroll around the corner and rush through what God had commanded. In fact, the three-day journey reveals the magnitude of the test God had planned for Abraham.
This was much more than a test of simple, short-term obedience. Abraham exemplified what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience in the same direction.”
Walking with God in obedience is exactly where God wants us, no matter the circumstance or challenge set before us. On the contrary, it’s the last place Satan wants us. There will be distractions and temptations all along the journey of your walk with God, but stay the course. The rewards are far greater than anything Satan can offer you.
2. Don’t forget God’s promises and His faithfulness to keep those promises.
One of the most powerful verses in this passage comes in verse 5 when Abraham says, “The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” This one sentence is loaded with truth!
First of all, Abraham referred to sacrificing his son as worship—not punishment or torture, but worship. His obedience was motivated by a desire to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15a).
Secondly, Abraham believed God would not revoke any of His prior promises. When God told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son, He also said, “I will establish my covenant with him (Isaac) as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him” (Gen. 17:19). A few verses later God reiterates, “I will establish my covenant with Isaac” (Gen. 17:21).
Regarding Abraham telling his servants that he and Isaac would return, John MacArthur writes, “Hebrews 11:17-19 reveals that he (Abraham) was so confident in the permanence of God’s promise, that he believed if Isaac were to be killed, God would raise him from the dead, or God would provide a substitute for Isaac.”
When obedience finds you in a difficult place, it is so important to remember all that God has promised us through His Word. That’s why reading and studying the Scriptures is so vital to the Christian life. We need God’s Word in our heads and in our hearts, especially when external circumstances are challenging us to forget about the faithfulness of God.
3. Your obedience affects more than just you.
The Lord was so pleased with Abraham’s obedience, He responded by saying, “I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.”
One act of obedience from one single man resulted in thousands upon thousands being blessed.
This isn’t just true for Abraham. Our own obedience to God affects others as well. The opposite is also true. When we choose to disobey God, there is potential to make a negative impact on those around us—and even people we will never meet. That’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it? The short and extremely plain synopsis is this: obedience is a BIG DEAL to God—and it should be to us as well.
- What are some common distractions in your walk with Christ? What are you doing to daily guard yourself from these distractions?
- What are some examples in your own life when God has blessed you because of your obedience?
- What are some other biblical examples that could encourage your walk of obedience today? Also, take time to reflect on the ultimate example of obedience, Jesus Christ, who was obedient to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). May we all be drawn to humility, realizing the price that was paid for our redemption.