Beresheet (Genesis) 18:1 – 22:24
“Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “Behold, in the tent.” And he said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”” Genesis 18:9-15
I love this account from the book of Genesis for many reasons; it reveals to us something about God’s character, His faithfulness to fulfill His promises, His unlimited favor, grace, and power, and the greatness of His ability to do what man thinks is impossible.
In our Parasha this week, we read of God’s faithfulness to Abraham to fulfill a promise that He made in Genesis 12 (see Go Forth! (Parashat Lekh Lekha)); not only did God call Abraham, but He also made a great promise of blessing for Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:7).
In Genesis 18, God once again reaffirms the promise while revealing the specific way in which He will do it. Although fulfilling this promise would require a great miracle, He would demonstrate His unlimited power and ability as the Creator of the world to do all things, especially those that are beyond man’s ability.
Remember, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17). It’s understandable that Abraham and Sara both doubted the possibility that this great miracle would happen. Sarah was way beyond childbearing age (in man’s eyes), and yet that is the reason God chose to perform this great and amazing miracle through her! He operates in the supernatural realm, which reflects His awesome nature. This miracle that He did in Sarah also foreshadowed an even greater miracle which would occur in another woman, as prophesied by Isaiah:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a young women (virgin) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
A key phrase in Genesis 18 is found in verse 14 when God said to Abraham, ““Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” The Hebrew word which is used here can be translated as “wonder, miracle, something which is drastically amazing”, and this helps us to better understand that there is nothing on this earth which is too big for God, nothing that He can’t do. What a great assurance and confidence we have as His followers!
Not only was Isaac’s birth miraculous, but so was something that happened later in his life. God once again displayed His character through this event, also as it foreshadowed an even greater miracle, which would take place thousands of years later. Our parasha also speaks of it in the sacrifice of Isaac:
“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba.” Genesis 22:1-19
The above account describes a loving father who demonstrated his faith in God by being willing to give his only son, whom he loved dearly, even at the cost of sacrificing him on the altar. Through Abraham and Isaac, God clearly foreshadows what He Himself would do in giving His only Son, Yeshua, as a sacrifice for us. And just like Yeshua, Isaac was a loving son who trusted His father to the very end, not speaking or complaining.
The parallel between Isaac and Yeshua is striking; part of why I love this story so much is that it shows how deeply the Father loves us – even from time immemorial – and how much Yeshua was a willing Son who trusted the Father to the point of death, and took on Himself the punishment that was meant for each one of us.
What an amazing God that we believe in!
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