Genesis 12-25

Abraham: Call, Relationships, and Future

 

Introduction

1. Summary

• God covenanted to give Israel her own land and numerous descendents.

• Abraham’s life demonstrated how God would later use Israel as a means of grace to the world.

2. Structure

a Abram’s Call to Blessing (Gen. 11:10 – Gen. 12:20)

b Abram’s relationships with surrounding peoples (Gen. 13:1 – Gen. 14:24)

c Abram’s Covenant Relationship (Gen. 15:1 – Gen. 17:27)

b’ Abraham’s relationship with surrounding peoples (Gen. 18:1 – Gen. 21:34)

a’ Abraham’s Future Blessing (Gen. 22:1 – Gen. 25:18)[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (RTS: Orlando).[/footnote] There is no more detailed spiritual biography of a man in the whole of Scripture. The question we would like to focus on particularly is, “What was Moses teaching Israel about their own lives with Abraham’s life?” As Moses narrated Abraham’s covenant blessings of the Promised Land and innumerable descendants, and also his interactions with other peoples, Moses was teaching his original audience about their own covenant blessings and relationships with other peoples.
 

I. Abram’s Call to Blessing (Gen. 11:10 – Gen. 12:20)

A. General Analysis

Abram’s genealogy (Gen. 11:10-32)

Abram’s call (Gen. 12:1 – Gen. 12:9)

Abram’s “exodus” (Gen. 12:10 – Gen. 12:20)

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Abram’s genealogy (Gen. 11:10-32)

This genealogy takes us over the bridge from Primeval to Patriarchal history. God’s grace is emphasized by tracing Abram’s lineage from the divinely blessed Shem. Despite punishing Babel’s builders by scattering humanity (Gen. 11:1-9), the Lord continues to care for his elect seed. To this point the recounting of human history has proceeded at a relatively rapid pace, covering many hundreds of years in the space of eleven chapters. In Genesis 12 the progression of history slows nearly to a halt. The next ten chapters trace events that occurred during a brief twenty five year period in the life of a single individual, Abraham. This serves to highlight the climactic importance of Abraham. While the narrative scene narrows down from the universal and worldwide to a single family, the section shows how the faithful obedience of a single individual can have universal and worldwide significance. After mankind resisted all the divine interventions to stem the tide of evil, God chose a single man and his family as the solution to the problem.
The principal deity worshipped at Ur and Haran was the Sumerian moon-god. Joshua tells us that Abram and his family were worshipers of this false god (Josh. 24:2). Some have argued that the name Terah may be related to the Hebrew word for moon (yareah) so that his very name testified to his religious orientation. Although Abram was descended from the chosen line of Shem, the years had passed and Yahwehism had been replaced by Paganism. With the knowledge of Yahweh having disappeared from the line of Shem there was a need for Yahweh to reveal himself to pagan Abram.
 

2. Chronology

We know very little about the first 75 years of Abram’s life. However we can estimate his age at the various stages after that as follows
75 Enters Canaan
86 Ishmael born
100 Isaac born
120 Isaac offered
137 Sarah died
175 Abraham died (c 1992 BC)
 

3. Geography

[footnote]Nelson’s complete book of Bible maps and charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

This is the route of Abraham’s travels.

 

4. Archaeology

Archaeology confirms the historical trustworthiness of Abram’s life as recounted in Genesis. Gleason Archer outlines how archaeology has shown:

(1) that the name Abram appears in cuneiform records of the first half of the second millennium b.c.; (2) that both Ur and Haran were flourishing cities in the twenty-first century b.c.; (3) that Shechem and Bethel (if Beitin is correctly identified as Bethel) were inhabited during that period, and likewise that the Jordan Valley was highly populated; (4) that the names of the invading kings listed in Gen. 14 were appropriate to that age, and travel from Mesopotamia to Palestine was quite extensive, and Elamite power (suggested by the Elamite name Chedorlaomer) was in the ascendancy at approximately the same time. (As for the Sodom-Gomorrah Pentapolis, Ebla records refer to each as contemporary cities back in 2300 b.c.); (5) that Abraham’s negotiations in purchasing the cave of Machpelah conformed to Hittite law practiced in the second millennium.[footnote]G L Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

 

5. Abram’s Call

a Abram called to leave (Gen. 12:1-3)

b Abram sets out (Gen. 12:4-5a)

c Abram enters (Gen. 12:5b)

b’ Abram builds altars (Gen. 12:6-8)

a’ Abram completes call (Gen. 12:9)[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (RTS: Orlando).[/footnote] The call of Abram contained two great promises that were important to an ancient man: land and descendants. He was also promised a great name (Gen. 12:2). In contrast to what Babel’s builders tried and failed to acquire (Gen. 11), Abram receives by God’s grace.

There are many ups and downs in Abram’s life, many questions and many failures. But through the suspense and drama, the message is clear: God has established a unique relationship with this man and his family. He would certainly work out his promises to Abram somehow.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 93.[/footnote]

Both of the divisions of Genesis (primeval and patriarchal) begin with a creation initiated by the word of God. In Genesis 1:1 God calls the universe into existence by the power of his word; in Genesis 12:1 God calls a special people into existence by the power of his word.
Moses’ Message: God has called you to be a special and blessed people, therefore respond to the call just as Abram did.
 

6. Abram’s “Exodus”

a Abram sojourns to Egypt (Gen. 12:10)

b Abram’s plan to sojourn disrupted by Pharaoh (Gen. 12:11-16)

c God sends plagues (Gen. 12:17)

b’ Pharaoh releases Abram (Gen. 12:18-19)

a’ Abram leaves Egypt (Gen. 12:20)[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (RTS: Orlando).[/footnote]  
David Dorsey highlights how Abram’s exodus from Egypt echoes and foreshadows Israel’s exodus from Egypt in various ways.

a. Abram, like Israel migrates from Canaan to Egypt because of a famine (Gen. 12:10)

b. Abram’s wife Sarai is taken and wrongfully retained by Pharaoh, just as the Israelites would be

c. God brings great plagues upon Pharaoh’s house to secure Sarai’s release (Gen. 12:17) as he later does to secure Israel’s release.

d. In Abram’s story, Pharaoh’s resolve is broken because of Yahweh’s plagues upon him and his house, and he summons Abram in order to get relief from the plagues (Gen. 12:17-18). The same scenario is repeated with Moses and Pharaoh.

e. The exasperated Pharaoh gives orders to Abram: “Go” (Gen. 12:19). Pharaoh similarly orders Moses: “Go” (Ex. 8:25, Ex. 10:8)

f. Abram is enriched by the Egyptians, leaving Egypt with much newly acquired wealth (Gen. 12:16; Gen. 13:2). The Israelites are similarly enriched by the Egyptians as they leave Egypt (Ex. 12:35-36).[footnote]D Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 69.[/footnote]

 
John Sailhamer adds a further four parallels to show that the section has been intentionally structured to prefigure or foreshadow Israel’s sojourn in Egypt

a. Terah dies before reaching promised land (just as first generation of Israel died)

b. Canaan is mentioned again and again in the narrative to remind the Israelites that Canaanites were also there when Abram was promised the land, when he was called to enter the land and obeyed.

c. Abram went from North to South, as did Israel.

d. Abram travelled by building altars and calling on name of the Lord, as did Israel.[footnote]L Ryken and T Longman III (Editors), The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1993), 116.[/footnote]

Moses’ Message: God will bring Israel from Egypt to Canaan, just as he brought Abram.
 

7. Abram’s faith

God’s covenant promises to Abram are given in Chapters 11, 12, 15, 17. The rest is the story of Abram’s responses – faith to leave Ur, failure at Haran: faith to enter Canaan, failure in Egypt: faith regarding Lot, failure regarding Hagar; faith regarding circumstances. Faith and failure, faith and failure, but God remains faithful and unfailing.
 

8. Three Promises and Three Tests[footnote]E J Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (London: The Tyndale Press, 1953), 61.[/footnote]

E J Young suggests that Abram was given three promises and three tests

a. Promise of land (Gen. 12:7; Gen. 12:13; Gen. 12:15)

The Test: Abram was a sojourner in the land (Gen. 12:10), the land was occupied by others (Gen. 12:6), he was twice driven out by famine (Gen. 12:10; Gen. 20:1ff), his descendants were to be sojourners in a foreign land (Gen. 15:3), the land was invaded by distant rulers (Gen. 14:1f), Abram had to buy a burial place

b. Promise of a numerous seed (Gen. 12:2; Gen. 13:15)

The Test: Sarai was barren (Gen. 11:30; Gen. 16:1) Abram went childless (Gen. 15:2).

c. Promise of universal blessing (Gen. 12:3; Gen. 18:18)

The Test: Abram is twice the source of trouble (Gen. 12 and Gen. 20), Abram and Lot must separate (Gen. 13:5ff), Foreign kings fight against him (Gen. 14), he must protest to Abimelech.
Moses’ Message: Those who are given God’s promises will have their faith in the promises tested.

C. New Testament Analysis

1. Abraham as hero of faith

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-10).

 

II. Abram’s Relationship with God (Gen. 15:1-17; Gen. 15:27)

The crux of the Abrahamic narrative is Abram’s relationship with God. On either side of that pivot is material dealing with Abram’s relationship with surrounding peoples. We would like to deal firstly with his relationship with God, then gather the material either side of that together.

A. General Analysis

a God’s covenant promises (Gen. 15:1-21)

b Abram’s failure (Gen. 16:1-16)

a’ Abraham’s covenant faithfulness (Gen. 17:1-27)

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Dark background

The promises of chapter 15 appear against a dark background of famine and temporary exile in Egypt (Gen. 12), a dispute with his nephew (Gen. 13), and regional war (Gen. 14). Because he had remained childless he had followed the Mesopotamian practice of adopting a slave (Eliezer of Damascus) to inherit his wealth. But in chapter 15 God intervened to remind Abram of the original promises and to assure him that he would have an heir, and that heir would be a biological son.
Abram’s reward for faith was much greater than anything the King of Sodom offered him. Only God could reward Abram with innumerable offspring and possession of a land presently occupied by others
 

2. Historical Prologue (Gen. 15:7)

“I am the Lord who brought you out.” Most ancient Near Eastern covenants began with a historical prologue. There is a deliberate paralleling with Israel’s Exodus and the subsequent “Mosaic Covenant” (Ex. 20:2). Both Abram’s and Israel’s exodus were critical nation-forming events for Israel.
 

3. Covenant Promises

The covenant promises made to Abraham over chapters 12-17 may be summarized as follows:
Abraham will be uniquely blessed by God.
Abraham’s name will become great.
Abraham and Sarah will have innumerable descendants.
Abraham and Sarah’s descendants will include royalty.
Abraham’s descendants will receive the land of Canaan.
Abraham and his descendants will enjoy a personal relationship with God.
Abraham will be a source of blessing for the Gentiles.
Abraham’s blessings will have everlasting implications.
 

4. Covenant Cutting (Genesis 15)

The usual way to seal a covenant in the ancient Near East was to cut an animal and put the pieces on each side of a path. The covenanters then walked between the pieces together. In doing this they were effectively saying: “Let me be cut in pieces if I break my promise.” This is why for Abram this vision was a nightmare. He had previously committed himself to taking the Promised Land, and now he was to confirm this by passing through the pieces. Then a smoking pot and flaming torch appeared, both of which represented God in theophany. The original readers would have associated this with the pillar of fire and cloud. However, instead of both God and Abram passing through the pieces together, God in theophany passes through them alone, by Himself. God was effectively saying to Abram: “I will give you the land, and if I don’t let me be cut in pieces.” He takes on the responsibility unilaterally, and swears “upon his own life” that He will give Abram the promises without Abram’s own efforts.
This emphasizes the promise/divine side of the Abrahamic covenant. To reach destiny as God’s image Abram/Israel must take their eyes off of their own impotence and trust in God alone.
Moses’ Message: God has sworn, to His own destruction, that we will enter the Promised Land.
 

5. The Sins of the Amorites not yet full (Gen. 15:16)

Amorites represent the ungodly nations of Canaan (Gen. 15:19-21). Just as God did not send the flood until the earth’s corruption had reached a certain advanced stage (Gen. 6:5; Gen. 6:12), so he would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah until its corruption was so advanced that not even ten righteous people were left in it (Gen. 18:22-33).
Moses’ Message: Israel’s conquest and settlement of Canaan is based on God’s absolute justice, not on naked aggression.
 

6. Covenant Failure (Genesis 16)

God promised Abram a child but God’s timing was too slow for Abram. He therefore used Hagar as a surrogate mother. This was culturally acceptable but it was not acceptable to God.
In Chapter 15 God said “I’ll do it for you” but God was too slow for their liking and they turned to Egypt. Sarai and Abram had turned away from the promise and sought a child according the flesh (Gal. 4:23). Everything seemed great for a while, but Abram’s substitute for God’s blessing soon began to crumble before his eyes. However long it takes, Abram (and Moses’ original audience, Israel) must demonstrate trust in His grace by waiting for God and His solutions
The child that Abraham devised and worked for brought trouble. The child of God’s sovereign grace brought peace. Israel must trust in God’s wisdom and power, rather than their own (Gal. 4:21-31).
Moses’ Message: Patiently wait for God’s promised provision because turning back to Egypt will not solve our problems but only make things worse.
 

7. Covenant Responsibilities (Genesis 17)

Sarah is 89 and Abraham is 99 when God appears to him and changes their names from Abram (Exalted Father) to Abraham (Father of a Multitude) and Sarah (Princess). Abraham’s old name spoke of his noble ancestry but his new name spoke of his many offspring. As elsewhere in the Bible a new name indicates a new status before God.
Having promised Abraham to give him the promises in chapter 15, in chapter 17 God reminds Abraham of his own responsibility to respond to these gracious promises in loving obedience. He is reminded, through circumcision, that he cannot take God’s promises and then live without reference to God. God reminds Abraham of all that He will do for him, then, in this gracious context, He says, “It is time for the knife again, Abraham. But this time it is not animals to be cut, but you.” His foreskin is cut off and dies. What a vivid and memorable sermon to remind Abraham that those who violate covenant responsibilities will also be cut off and die.
Remember Moses’ original audience. The first generation were taken out of Egypt by grace, had turned away in the wilderness, hankering after Egypt. The second generation had not been circumcised until Gilgal. Moses is teaching that they should be circumcised otherwise they will be cut off and left to die.
Moses’ Message: Abraham was obligated to fidelity with the threat of curse and so are we
 

8. Covenant and Condition

Is God changing the rules here? Has He changed from a gracious to a legal covenant? Has it gone from “I’ll do everything” to “I do a bit and you do a bit”? No, this is the important relationship between faith and works. God says “You can’t take my promises then do what you want” (v9). God’s grace is never given to encourage disobedience but to set us free from sin to live lives of thankful obedience. Gen. 15 opposes salvation by works, but Gen. 17 opposes the idea of salvation which does not produce any works. Genesis 15 opposes “Just do your best,” but Genesis 17 opposes the idea of “Just believe.” Gen. 15 says “There is forgiveness with thee.” Genesis 17 says “That thou mayest be feared.” Genesis 15 says “Jesus is Savior,” but Genesis 17 says “Jesus is Lord.”
God will give promised blessings unconditionally. However, those who failed to respond to the covenant in loving obedience would come under the covenant curses.
Moses’ Message: Faith without works is dead
 

9. Blessing and cursing

In Genesis 12:1-3, there are five occurrences of the word “bless(ing).” Some have contrasted the use of “bless(ing)” in this section with the fivefold occurrence of the word “curse” in chapters 3-11 (Gen. 3:14; Gen. 3:17; Gen. 4:11; Gen. 5:29; Gen. 9:25). In short, the call of Abram redresses the curse incurred by the fall.
 

10. Promises and Crises

The Abrahamic promises concerned land and progeny, and these two concerns are taken up in reverse order in the patriarchal narratives, where the emphasis is on progeny.
In the Abrahamic narratives there is a constant tension between the promises of God and the lack of an heir. There are eight crises in Gen. 11:27 – Gen. 25:11 brought on by human initiatives; these crises are interspersed with a sevenfold affirmation of the promise of an heir. These narratives make us aware that Israel will only exist through divine interventions.
 

11. Progeny, Position, Possession

The three major ingredients of the promise are (1) progeny, (2) position, and (3) possession. In the first ingredient God promised to make the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into a great nation. In the second God promised to bless the Patriarchs and enter into a covenant with them. He would be their God and they would be his people. They would have a unique position among the peoples of the earth. The possession which was promised to the Patriarchs was the land of Canaan. These ingredients are interrelated and interdependent and are in fact facets of one promise.
Genesis 12-50 explores the psychological, physical and spiritual tensions which resulted from the snail’s pace fulfillment of the progeny aspect of the Promise. Exodus and Leviticus emphasize the position aspect of the Promise. God entered into a covenant at Sinai. There he revealed the standards which set Israel apart from all other nations. There he also revealed the procedures for maintaining the special position with their God. In Numbers and Deuteronomy the orientation is toward the possession of the land.

C. New Testament Analysis

1. Seed of the serpent v seed of the woman

In Ishmael and Isaac we see the hostility of the ungodly to the spiritual children of God.

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now (Galatians 4:29).

 

2. Abrahamic Covenant (Gal. 3-4)

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16).

 

3. Justification by faith

The Apostle Paul defined the doctrine of justification by faith and used Abram as the perfect example (Rom. 4:19-21). As God accounted righteousness to Abraham, then Abraham evidently had none of his own. Believing God he had righteousness reckoned to his account (Rom. 4:3-5)
 

4. Circumcision

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also (Romans 4:11).

The New Testament sign of initiation into the covenant community is baptism (Col. 2:11-12)
 

5. Faith without works is dead

New Testament Examples: Jn. 8:30-31, Rom. 4-5, Rom. 6-7, Eph. 2:8-10.
 

6. Abraham saw my day

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad (John 8:56).

 

7. The promise of innumerable seed

The promise of offspring finds fulfillment in the old Israel (Num. 23:10; 1 Kin. 4:20; 2 Chr. 1:9) and consummation in the new Israel (Gal. 3:29; Rev. 7:9). There was a biological and spiritual fulfillment.

III. Abraham’s Relationships with Others (Gen. 13:1-14; Gen. 13:24; Gen. 18:1-21; Gen. 18:34)

This biblical order of relationship with God, then relationships with people, is also reflected in the 10 commandments. We must get right with God, then deal right with people.

A. General Analysis

Abram and Lot (Gen. 13)
Abram and war with wicked kings (Gen. 14)
Abraham and prayer for righteous (Gen. 18-20)
Abraham and Ishmael (Gen. 21:1-21)
Abraham and Philistines (Gen. 21:22-34)[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (RTS: Orlando).[/footnote]

These chapters described to the Israelites how they should view Canaanite cities as well as their relatives, the Moabites and Ammonites. They also explain the manner in which God’s people in all ages should seek the salvation of others while separating themselves from evil influences.[footnote]The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 41.[/footnote]

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Abram/Israel Parallels

It is common for past international relations to condition and influence present international relations (e.g., UK history of war with Germany and friendship with America).
The original readers of Genesis were Israel on the verge of the Promised Land. The people they had to deal with were descended from the people which Abram dealt with. These narratives, therefore, teach Israel to deal with these people in the same way as Abram dealt with their forefathers.
The basic principle taught is: “Destroy the Canaanites, but offer peace to all other peoples. Only if they reject peace are you then warranted to destroy them.” This principle is confirmed by Deut. 20:10-18.

Abraham  Israel Message
Lot (Gen. 13) Moabites and Ammonites Show kindness (Deut. 2:9; Deut. 2:16-19; Num. 22-25)
Sodom (Gen. 14) Canaanites Separate from and destroy
Righteous in Sodom (Gen. 18-20) Rahab in Jericho Distinguish the righteous from the wicked in conquest (Josh. 2-6)
Ishmael (Gen. 21:1-21) Ishmaelites Separate from but have a regard for as brothers
Philistines (Gen. 21:22-34)  Philistines If possible, observe the agreed terms of peace (Ex. 13:17, Ex. 23:31; Jdg. 3:1-4; Jdg. 3:31; Deut. 20:10ff)

Moses’ Message: Israel should relate to other nations in the same way as Abraham did to these nations and their founders.

C. New Testament Analysis

1. Love your enemies

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

 

2. Pray for all men

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

 

3. Need for discernment in dealing with people

And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 1:22-23).

 

4. Need for separation

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17).

 

5. Remember Lot’s wife (Lk. 17:32)

 

6. Remember Lot

And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds (2 Peter 2:7-8).

 

7. Melchizedek (Hebrews 7)

Melchizedek was a type of Christ in his role as a King and priest.
 

IV. Abraham’s Future Blessing (22:1-25:18)

A. General Analysis

a Abraham’s test of Isaac’s sacrifice (Gen. 22:1-24)
Multiplication and victory of descendants (Gen. 22:16-18)

b Sarah’s death and burial (Gen. 23:1-20)
Purchase of site and burial (Gen. 23:20)

a’ Abraham’s search for Isaac’s wife (Gen. 24:1- Gen. 25:6)
Multiplication and victory for descendants (Gen. 24:60)

b’ Abraham’s death and burial (Gen. 25:7-18)
Burial in purchased site (Gen. 25:9-10)[footnote]R Pratt, Lectures on Genesis to Joshua (Orlando: RTS).[/footnote]

The pattern is a story about Isaac, then death; a story about Isaac, then death.

B. Detailed Analysis

1. Parallels between chapter 12 and 22

Other deities of the ancient world required child sacrifice. Was this a new aspect of God Abraham had not yet learned? Having already graciously committed himself to Abraham, God tested Abraham’s obedience.
The command and response in chapter 22 are very similar to chapter 12. In both situations Abraham was commanded to take radical action in dependence on God. In both passages Abraham obeyed the word of God without argument or debate.

In chapter 12 God called on Abram to give up his past and trust in him. Now, in chapter 22, he challenges Abraham to trust him with his future. As before Abraham was up to the challenge. This event is the climax of Abraham’s spiritual journey. He has proven faithful to God from Ur to Haran to Mereh and the Negeb, and now at Moriah.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Baker Books, 1999), 96.[/footnote]

Moses’ Message: Trust and obey God even in the face of death.
 

2. The security of the future

Abraham was willing to give up his son. In other words, he was willing to give up all human hope of a numerous seed. However, his willingness to give up human hope was based on divine hope. He trusted that God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead. In response to this willingness to give up all human hope, God promises a numerous seed which would possess the land (Gen. 22:16-18). This great promise would have greatly encouraged the Israelites as they set out to conquer Canaan.
Moses’ Message: Self-denying and sacrificial obedience leads to blessing, multiplication and victory.
 

3. A foretaste of the future

Abraham purchased Mach-pelah in Canaan as a burial place for Sarah and himself. Thus, he possessed a portion of the Promised Land (Gen. 23:10-20; Gen. 25:10), and so had a foretaste of Israel’s eventual full possession.
Moses’ message: Abraham’s partial possession of the land is a foretaste of the entire possession Israel can look forward to.

C. New Testament Analysis

1. Abraham offered up Isaac in faith (Heb. 11:17-19)

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure (Heb. 11:17-19).

 

2. Behold the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29)

Abraham’s obedience prefigured the active obedience of Christ who secured the covenantal blessings for Abraham’s offspring. The Lord provides the Lamb, the Lord becomes the Lamb. Implicit is the idea of divine deliverance by substitution.
 

3. Secure inheritance

Abraham had only a small title to the promised land of Canaan by the time he died (Gen. 23:3-20). The New Testament, however, teaches that Abraham had his eyes on a spiritual fulfillment of the promise (Heb. 11:9-10; Heb. 11:13-16). The land promises will be consummated in the new heavens and the new earth.

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Pet. 1:4)

 

V. The Message

Original Message: God has graciously called and covenanted with Israel and assured her that future possession of Canaan is secure.
Present Message: God has graciously called and covenanted with His Church and assured her that future possession of heaven is secure.