The strange command which God gave to Abraham, ver. 1, 2.
Abraham's strange obedience to this command, ver. 3 - 10.
The strange issue of this trial.
The sacrificing of Isaac was countermanded, ver. 11, 12.
Another sacrifice was provided, ver. 13, 14.
The covenant was renewed with Abraham hereupon, ver. 15 - 19.
An account of some of Abraham's relations, ver. 20 - 24.
1: Here is the trial of Abraham's faith, whether it continued
so strong, so vigorous, so victorious, after a long settlement in communion
with God, as it was at first, when by it he left his country: then it
appeared that he loved God better than his father; now, that he loved
him better than his son. After these things - After all the other
exercises he had had, all the difficulties he had gone through: now perhaps
he was beginning to think the storms were blown over but after all, this
encounter comes, which is stranger than any yet. God did tempt Abraham
- Not to draw him to sin, so Satan tempts; but to discover his graces,
how strong they were, that they might be found to praise and honour and
glory. The trial itself: God appeared to him as he had formerly done,
called him by name Abraham, that name which had been given him in
ratification of the promise: Abraham, like a good servant, readily
answered, Here am I; what saith my Lord unto his servant? Probably he
expected some renewed promise, like those, (Ge 15:1,17:1), but to his
great amazement that which God hath to say to him is in short, Abraham,
go kill thy son: and this command is given him in such aggravating
language as makes the temptation abundantly more grievous. When God speaks,
Abraham, no doubt, takes notice of every word, and listens attentively
to it: and every word here is a sword in his bones; the trial is steel'd
with trying phrases. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that he should
afflict? No, it is not; yet when Abraham's faith is to be tried, God
seems to take pleasure in the aggravation of the trial.
2: And he said, take thy son - Not thy bullocks and thy lambs; how
willingly would Abraham have parted with them by thousands to redeem
Isaac! Not thy servant, no, not the steward of thine house. Thine
only son - Thine only son by Sarah. Ishmael was lately cast out,
to the grief of Abraham, and now Isaac only was left and must he go
too? Yes: take Isaac, him by name, thy laughter, that son
indeed. Yea, that son whom thou lovest - The trial was of
Abraham's love to God, and therefore it must be in a beloved son: in the
Hebrew 'tis expressed more emphatically, and I think might very well be
read thus, Take now that son of thine, that only son of thine, whom thou
lovest, that Isaac. And get thee into the land of Moriah - Three days
journey off: so that he might have time to consider it, and if he do it,
must do it deliberately. And offer him for a burnt offering - He must not
only kill his son, but kill him as a sacrifice, with all that sedateness and
composedness of mind, with which he used to offer his burnt - offering.
3: The several steps of this obedience, all help to magnify it, and to
shew that he was guided by prudence, and governed by faith, in the whole
He rises early - Probably the command was given in the visions of
the night, and early the next morning he sets himself about it, did not
delay, did not demur. Those that do the will of God heartily will do it
He gets things ready for a sacrifice, and it should seem, with his own
hands, cleaves the wood for the burnt - offering.
He left his servants at some distance off, left they should have
created him some disturbance in his strange oblation. Thus when Christ was
entering upon his agony in the garden, he took only three of his disciples
6: Isaac's carrying the wood was a type of Christ, who carried his
own cross, while Abraham, with a steady and undaunted resolution,
carried the fatal knife and fire.
7: Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb? - This is,
A trying question to Abraham; how could he endure to think that
Isaac is himself the lamb?
'Tis a teaching question to us all, that when we are going to worship
God, we should seriously consider whether we have every thing ready,
especially the lamb for a burnt - offering.
Behold, the fire is ready; that is, the Spirit's assistance, and God's
acceptance: the wood is ready, the instituted ordinances designed to
kindle our affections, which indeed, without the Spirit, are but like wood
without fire, but the Spirit works by them. All things are now ready,
but where is the lamb? Where is the heart? Is that ready to be offered
up to God, to ascend to him as a burnt - offering?
8: My son, God will provide himself a lamb - This was the language
Of his obedience; we must offer the lamb which God has appointed now to
be offered; thus giving him this general rule of submission to the divine
will to prepare him for the application of it to himself.
Of his faith; whether he meant it so or no, this proved to be the meaning
of it; a sacrifice was provided instead of Isaac.
Christ the great sacrifice of atonement was of God's providing:
when none in heaven or earth could have found a lamb for that
burnt - offering, God himself found the ransom.
All our sacrifices of acknowledgement are of God's providing too;
'tis he that prepares the heart. The broken and contrite spirit is a
sacrifice of God, of his providing.
9: With the same resolution and composedness of mind, he applies
himself to the compleating of this sacrifice. After many a weary step, and
with a heavy heart, he arrives at length at the fatal place; builds the
altar, an altar of earth, we may suppose, the saddest that ever be
built; lays the wood in order for Isaac's funeral pile; and now
tells him the amazing news. Isaac, for ought appears, is as willing as
Abraham; we do not find that he made any objection against it. God
commands it to be done, and Isaac has learned to submit. Yet it is
necessary that a sacrifice be bound; the great Sacrifice, which,
in the fulness of time, was to be offered up, must be bound, and
therefore so must Isaac. Having bound him he lays him upon the
altar, and his hand upon the head of the sacrifice. Be astonished,
O heavens, at this, and wonder, O earth! here is an act of faith and
obedience which deserves to be a spectacle to God, angels and men;
Abraham's darling, the church's hope, the heir of promise, lies ready to
bleed and die by his own father's hands! Now this obedience of Abraham
in offering up Isaac is a lively representation,
Of the love of God to us, in delivering up his only begotten Son to
suffer and die for us, as a sacrifice. Abraham was obliged both in duty
and gratitude to part with Isaac and parted with him to a friend, but
God was under no obligations to us, for we were enemies.
Of our duty to God in return of that love we must tread in the steps of
this faith of Abraham. God, by his word, calls us to part with all
for Christ, all our sins, tho' they have been as a right hand, or a right
eye, or an Isaac; all those things that are rivals with Christ for the
sovereignity of our heart; and we must chearfully let them all go. God, by
his providence, which is truly the voice of God, calls us to part with an
Isaac sometimes, and we must do it by a chearful resignation and
submission to his holy will.
11: The Angel of the Lord - That is, God himself, the eternal Word,
the Angel of the covenant, who was to be the great Redeemer and Comforter.
12: Lay not thine hand upon the lad - God's time to help his people
is, when they are brought to the greatest extremity: the more eminent the
danger is, and the nearer to be put in execution, the more wonderful
and the more welcome is the deliverance. Now know I that thou fearest
God - God knew it before, but now Abraham had given a memorable
evidence of it. He need do no more, what he had done was sufficient to
prove the religious regard he had to God and his authority. The best
evidence of our fearing God is our being willing to honour him with that
which is dearest to us, and to part with all to him, or for him.
13: Behold a ram - Tho' that blessed Seed was now typified by
Isaac, yet the offering of him up was suspended 'till the latter end of
the world, and in the mean time the sacrifice of beasts was accepted, as a
pledge of that expiation which should be made by that great sacrifice.
And it is observable, that the temple, the place of sacrifice, was afterward
built upon this mount Moriah, (2Ch 3:1), and mount
Calvary, where Christ was crucified, was not far off.
14: And Abraham called the place Jehovah - jireh - The Lord will
provide. Probably alluding to what he had said, (Ge 22:8).
God will provide himself a lamb - This was purely the Lord's doing: let it
be recorded for the generations to come; that the Lord will see; he will
always have his eyes upon his people in their straits, that he may come in
with seasonable succour in the critical juncture. And that he will be
seen, be seen in the mount, in he greatest perplexities of his
people; he will not only manifest but magnify his wisdom, power and
goodness in their deliverance. Where God sees and provides, he should
be seen and praised. And perhaps it may refer to God manifest
in the flesh.
15: And the Angel - Christ. Called unto Abraham - Probably while
the ram was yet burning. Very high expressions are here of God's favour to
Abraham, above any he had yet been blessed with.
16: Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not with - held thy
son, thine only son - He lays a mighty emphasis upon that, and(Ge 22:18), praises it as an act of obedience, in it thou hast
obeyed my voice. By myself have I sworn - For he could swear by no
17: Multiplying I will multiply thee - Those that part with any thing
for God, shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage.
Abraham has but one son, and is willing to part with that one in
obedience to God; well, saith God, thou shalt be recompensed with thousands
and millions. Here is a promise,
Of the Spirit, In blessing I will bless thee - The Gift of the Holy
Ghost; the promise of the Spirit was that blessing of Abraham which was
to come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, (Ga 3:14).
Of the increase of the church; that believers, his spiritual seed, should
be many as the stars of heaven.
Of spiritual victories; Thy seed shall possess the gate of his
enemies - Believers by their faith overcome the world, and triumph over
all the powers of darkness. Probably Zacharias refers to this part of
the oath, (Lu 1:74).
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him
without fear. But the crown of all is the last promise,
Of the incarnation of Christ; In thy seed (one particular person that
shall descend from thee, for he speaks not of many but of one, as the
apostle observes, (Ga 3:16).)
shall all the nations of the earth be blessed - Christ is the great
blessing of the world. Abraham was ready to give up his son for a
sacrifice to the honour of God, and on that occasion God promised to give
his son a sacrifice for the salvation of man.
To show that tho' Abraham saw his own family highly dignified with
peculiar privileges, yet he did not look with contempt upon his relations,
but was glad to hear of the increase and prosperity of their families.
To make way for the following story of the marriage of Isaac to
Rebekah, a daughter of this family.