555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

20. What Were the Meaning and Result of Abraham's Sacrifice?

The story of Abraham will ever be an important one, and particularly that part of it dealing with the memorable doings at the place he named "Jehovah-jireh," where, as related in Genesis 22, he showed his wonderful obedience to God. Whatever may be conjectured to the contrary, the record in Genesis is clear and unmistakable. It was a test of Abraham's faith in God. Some critics want to know why, if God is all knowing, he should have said to Abraham: "For now I know that thou fearest God" (Gen. 22:12). The problem of foreknowledge is an extremely difficult one, and discussion about it is usually fruitless. God in this case speaks of the test of Abraham as though it had been an experiment. He proved him and found him firm in faith and perfect in obedience. It was in obedience to the Lord's command that he stood ready to offer up his son Isaac, and not because he himself had chosen such a sacrifice, in order to be like his idolatrous neighbors, who offered up their children to Moloch. Genesis 22:2 dismisses this latter suggestion altogether. The immediate effect of Abraham's successful test was the great blessing which God bestowed on him (verse 16), which, together with God's covenant, made Abraham the most important Biblical character and his name better known than that of any other human being on earth. All the promises to Abraham have been fulfilled, except the return of his descendants to the promised land. His seed is past all reckoning. Not only have all the Jews been his offspring, but Christians as well are in a sense his spiritual children. Their faith in Christ brings them into his family and makes them heirs of the promises made to him. The land of Canaan was promised to his seed forever. Since they are not in possession of it now we must believe they will return, as many other prophecies also declare. The promise was, however, not made to Abraham alone, but to him and his seed, which includes Christ—to the literal Israel and also to the spiritual Israel. The complete fulfillment of the covenant awaited the coming of Christ, "the seed," concerning whom it was made. See Galatians 3 :16.