Let me set the stage. God told Abraham that he would have a son, and that son would be a "promised son" from his own bowels. Abraham was 75 years old when he received this promise. Remember that Abraham was called a "man of faith." The first promise of a great nation coming out of him was what we call the Abrahamic Covenant in Gen.12:1-3. In Gen. 14 any thought Abraham had of Lot being the heir vanished when Lot departed. God reaffirmed His promise to Abraham after Lot left.
Genesis 13:14-17 ESV The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, (15) for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. (16) I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. (17) Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
In Gen.15:1-5 Abraham tried to help God with His promise of an heir and asked God to let it be Eliezer. God said NO, for his heir must come from his own bowels.
In Gen.16:1-6 we see that Sarah was doubting any word about a heir coming from her so she tried to help God with the promise and gave Hagar to Abraham. Abraham is now 86 years old and has been waiting for the promised seed for 11 years.
At age 99 God re-establishes the covenant promise with Abraham. Now Abraham has been waiting for 24 years for the Word of God to come forth. His son from Hagar, Ishmael is now 13 years old.
Genesis 17:1-7 ESV When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, (2) that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (3) Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, (4) “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. (5) No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (6) I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. (7) And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
Abraham has a "crisis of faith" moment. This is his third attempt to assist God. He first assumed Lot would be his heir, then when that didn't happen he presented his servant Eliezer to God as his heir and God shut that down. Now he presents his son Ishmael to God as the heir of promise.
Genesis 17:17-18 ESV Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (18) And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”
God answered with a resounding NO! The heir of the promise would come from Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 90, both well past child-bearing age. Abraham who had been waiting for 24 years for the fulfillment of God's covenant promise could not see how it was to happen.
I love Gen.17:22. It is such a matter of fact verse.
Genesis 17:22 ESV When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
God finished, ceased, with His conversation with Abraham and left. What can we learn from this?
First, no matter how long we have to wait for God's promise to be fulfilled, His word is always Yes and Amen. He will not accept a "plan B" from us to help Him fulfill His promises. God does not need our help.
Second, somewhere along the line we got the idea that as long as we are talking God is under obligation to hang around to listen. The Father speaks and that is it. There is a lot to be said about the theology of "It Is Finished."
Genesis 22:1-2 ESV After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” (2) He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
What is Abraham to do in obedience to God in Gen.22:1-18? It was a 45 mile walk to Mt. Moriah, which is about a 3 days journey. The name of Moriah has many meanings. Knowing that God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the Mount, it would be good to look at some of the meanings.
Mount Moriah means,
“Jah” (a name for God),
What a word! Abraham has been called to walk in total obedience and holiness.
Abraham is seen as an intercessor and a prophet. After waiting for 20 years he has become the Father of the “child of promise.” He now has his own son, someone of great worth, who God is going to use to test Abraham's spiritual character. The statement “Thine only son” was the only one born of Sarah, and heir of the promise. The statement “Whom thou lovest,” shows how a child captures the affections of a parent’s heart.
Abraham must have felt the outward struggle between God's command to sacrifice his son, and God's promise that in Isaac the world would be blessed. Many times we might miss the will and plans of the Father because in our mind they don't make sense and it would seem that one thing would cancel out the other.
In faith Abraham believed that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. When the moment came Isaac made no resistance to his father’s will. The binding with the rope was a sacrificial custom and really was not needed to restrain Isaac. Isaac believed that his father Abraham was obeying the will of God.
This request would be hard for any father, but remember that Isaac was not just another son; he was the “son of promise.” When Abraham laid Isaac on the altar he was sacrificing all that God had promised. He was giving up his vision, his dream, and his future. Abraham laid his whole life and all his life dreams on the altar with his son. True Worship cost something. Genesis 22:5 is the first Bible reference to the word "Worship." One day we will learn that worship has nothing to do with music, but to bow the head, the body, the knees, or to lay before the Father in humility and fear. Not one verse in the Bible about worship is tied to music, a song or a team of musicians. This might be hard, but seek the Word and not your emotions for truth. Remember, true worship is done in Spirit and truth.
I am somewhat shocked about how the Person of the Holy Spirit is treated and neglected in some circles. In some traditional or conservative churches He is neglected and ignored like He doesn't exist. There seems to be a fear if someone talks to much about the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit they might be branded or mistaken as Pentecostal or Charismatic. One particular group does not have a market on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
However there are those who treat the Person of the Holy Spirit like He is a force they can exercise in, or a toy they can play with at their convenience. They fail to remember that He is God, has always been God, and will always be God, and should be approached as so.
The Person of the Holy Spirt was promised by our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, He is a MUCH MORE gift from our heavenly Father to come beside us, within us, upon us, and fill us.
The gift of the Person of the Holy Spirit is a MUCH MORE promise.
Luke 11:9-13 ESV And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (10) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (11) What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; (12) or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? (13) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSIM USA.