The bulk of our reading today covers the life of Abraham. In the book of Genesis, the beginning of a major new section is frequently marked by the formula ” This is the account of …………….”. For instance, we find “This is the account of Noah” (Gen. 6:9), “This is the account of Abraham’s son Isaac” (Gen. 25:19), and “This is the account of Jacob” (Gen. 37:2). Abraham’s story is introduced by the same formula at Gen. 11:27: “This is the account of Terah”. Terah was Abraham’s father. Abraham’s whole life is traced from Gen. 11:27 to Gen. 25:11.
In these chapters covering Abraham’s life, we see our own reflection as in a mirror. Abraham desires to trust God and obey Him, but on different occasions his steps of faith falter.
On one occasion, he ends up going down to Egypt when famine hits the Land of Promise. Instead of being a blessing to all nations (Ge. 12:2,3), he brings disease to Pharaoh’s household and heartache to his wife Sarah (Gen. 12:10-20). On another occasion, Abraham and Sarah take their barrenness into their own hands when Sarah gives her maidservant Hagar to Abraham as his wife. Ishmael is born, but the LORD makes it clear that His covenant to bless all nations through Abraham’s descendants will come through a child born to Sarah (Gen. 16,17).
Despite these missteps of faith, Abraham always returns to the LORD. We see him gradually grow in faith and obedience and He continues to live under God’s blessing. He passes the supreme test of obedient faith when he willingly offers up his “one and only” son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah at God’s request (Gen. 22). At the last minute God intervenes before Isaac is harmed and the Lord Himself provides a ram in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:13).
Isaac is a powerful picture of Jesus, God’s “one and only” Son, who was provided as a sacrifice for our sins on Mt. Calvary. Three times in Genesis 22, Abraham’s beloved son, Isaac, is called his “one and only” son.
In our reading today, we see God renewing His covenant promises to Abraham (land, descendants and blessings) at key junctures in Abraham’s life. These promises are going to prove to be foundational to God’s program of bringing salvation upon the earth for all peoples.
It is difficult to overstate Abraham’s importance in salvation history. Christians should take heart today. In Abraham we see weaknesses and imperfections, yet God was able to accomplish His mighty purposes through him. The LORD will also use us in our weaknesses and imperfections as we learn to trust and obey Him. Let’s never give up on God’s promises because we can never outrun God’s love in Christ Jesus, God’s “one and only” beloved son. He is the long-awaited Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16). This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastor John