Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 5
Law – Weak and Beggarly
We’ve spent enough time on Law and Grace for now. These subjects will come up again from time to time. Turn to Genesis 22. Years had gone by and Isaac was probably a late teenager, maybe even twenty years old. God put Abraham to a tremendous test. Whenever I deal with new believers, I warn them that God is going to test their faith. We see it all through Scripture. Abraham was no exception. How do you think Abraham felt after years of waiting for a child. Ishmael finally came on the scene, grew into a teenager, and God told Abraham to send him away? Abraham loved Ishmael. This had to be excruciating for the old man. Then Abraham had his son of promise, Isaac. For nearly twenty years, he was deeply attached to him. What did God tell Abraham to do with him? Kill him! Imagine what Abraham must have gone through!
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, ‘Abraham;’ and he said, ‘Behold, here I am.’” I prefer the marginal notes use of the word “test” rather than “tempt.” God does not tempt, but He does test His people.
“And He (God) said, ‘Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.'”
The reason I emphasize the word “only” in verse 2 is because as far as God is concerned, Isaac is Abraham’s only son. Ishmael didn’t count as Abraham’s son. The reason is that it is through the line of Isaac that the Nation of Israel and The Messiah were to come. So I want you to make special note of God’s reference to Isaac as Abraham’s only son whom He loved.
The mountain to which God directed Abraham we know today as Mount Moriah, in the heart of Jerusalem. On Mount Moriah stands the Mosque of Omar (I read recently the structure there is actually a shrine). When one enters the shrine, coming up out of what we would call the basement, is a huge rock around which the shrine was built. Supposedly, this is the rock upon which Abraham was to offer Isaac. The point I’m making is that Mount Moriah is the very same place in Scripture where Solomon’s Temple rested. So, everything in Israel is specific in time, in prophecy, in everything. And here we see that before the Nation of Israel was a reality, Mount Moriah had become a place of tremendous importance.
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave (carried) the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” In verse 4, underline the phrase “on the third day.” This should immediately tell us that this is going to be a picture of Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection.
“Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, ‘Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”
Underline “and come again to you(!).“ What did Abraham know in his heart? He knew that even if Isaac’s life had to be taken, God would raise him from the dead so that he could come back with his father. That much Abraham knew and believed. This again, is the total picture now of what Christ would accomplish on the Cross. I believe we are perfectly correct to say that in this situation, Isaac is a type of Christ and Abraham is a type of God the Father. They exhibit the same love relationship, the same sacrifice situation that Jesus and God shared.
“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.” We have said before that Isaac was a young man of about twenty, and had certainly been witness to more than one sacrifice and order of worship for the ancients.
“And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, ‘My father:’ and he said, ‘Here am I, my son.’ And he said, ‘Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’” Amazingly, at this point, Abraham didn’t say, “Isaac, it’s going to be you!” Instead he said:
“And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:’ so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.”
For the ordinary, strapping eighteen or twenty-year-old, what would we expect his reaction to be? This was one situation in which the son could have easily whipped his father. But what do we see in Isaac? Complete obedience! Again, take this example 2,000 years into the future. When it came time for those Romans to begin scourging Jesus, and whipping Him, and pulling out His beard and crushing that crown of thorns onto His head, what could He have done? He could have rebelled. He could have thrown it all aside. Scriptures say He could have called down ten legions of angels. He didn’t have to go through all that! But what did He do? In complete obedience to His Father, He suffered at the hands of all those infidels and the raging religionists of His day, and He went to the Cross. So it was with Isaac. He obediently let Abraham bind him and lay him upon the altar.
“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”
And here we have that term again… “The Angel of the Lord,“ God the Son. (I don’t want to call Him Jesus in the Old Testament, because the Scriptures don’t), but it is God The Son, Jehovah, the same Person, but in His Old Testament character.
“And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham:’ and he said, ‘Here am I.’ And he said, ‘Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.’”
Now, let’s relate this to the life of a believer. Do believers suffer? Some of them have gone through tremendous suffering, yet they have maintained the best attitudes and happiest dispositions that you can witness. Their suffering has allowed them to prove to God just how much they love Him. The reason God brings times of testing and tribulation is to test our mettle. What do a lot of people do? They get bitter and angry and rebellious.
But to the truly believing heart, when hard times come, God becomes all the more precious. This is a lesson we all have to learn. God is not going to let us escape problems, He is simply going to be our hope as we go through them. This same thing was happening to Abraham. God said to Abraham, “I know now that you love me, because you were willing to sacrifice your beloved son.” It’s the same way with God the Father, we know that He loves us completely because He sent Christ to the Cross. The only things that put Jesus on that Cross were the love of God and the sins of mankind.
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”
You almost have to wonder whether Abraham was expecting something like this, when in verse 8 he said, “God will provide.” It seems he must have known. God has never changed! So go back with me to Genesis 4. In the timeline we’ve shown in the last few lessons, we’ve seen that over and over again. The situations changed from man’s point of view; man’s responsibilities changed. But did God ever change? No! Never!
I believe in the dispensational approach to Bible study, because it’s the easiest way to understand Scripture. The best illustration I’ve run across is our own presidential administrations. I’m going to use Carter and Reagan because they’re probably the best two for comparison that I can think of. First, we had four years of President Carter. His administration reflected his own political ideology. Then came President Reagan, who was almost totally opposite in his approach to politics and so forth, which we experienced during his administration. But they were both laboring under the same Constitution. The Constitution didn’t change, even though the administrations did. Every time we get a new president, we get a new administration and things are going to change to some degree but the Constitution never does. It was the same way here in Scripture. Things changed drastically when Adam and Eve came out of the Garden; again they changed drastically coming out of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and going under the Law; it was far different coming out from under the Law and entering into the Age of Grace. But God never changed!
Back to Genesis 4. Here God was dealing with Cain. Remember that they didn’t yet have the Law, but God had told them that when their conscience convicted them of having committed a wrong, they were to bring a blood sacrifice to God and He would accept them. Abel did, and the Book of Hebrews, the faith chapter (11) tells us that “by faith, Abel brought the more excellent sacrifice.“ But Cain rationalized, saying to himself, “Why should I go some place to barter for a lamb, when I can make a sacrifice of the things that I have grown. If I make it beautiful and make the effort to go to God with it, I will be accepted.” But he wasn’t:
“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell (Have you ever seen anyone get so angry that you could see it all over them? That’s the way Cain was, and God saw it). And the LORD said unto Cain, ‘Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?’” The LORD (Jehovah) is saying, “Cain, can’t you understand how I want you to get right with me?” God is always anxious to have a sinner reconciled to Him, just by doing what God has instructed.
“‘If thou doest well (if you bring me a blood sacrifice like Abel did), shalt thou not be accepted?…’”
Of course he would be! But Cain was evidently a farmer and had no access to sacrificial animals unless he’d barter with his brother Abel. Pride entered the picture, and Cain wasn’t about to do that. So God went one step further. Knowing Cain didn’t want to go through that kind of trouble, God told him, “Cain, I’ve provided a sacrifice for you,” just like God did for Abraham in Chapter 22.
“‘…and if thou doest not well (if you can’t bring a lamb on your own), sin (a sacrificial sin offering*) lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’”
*I’m putting this translation in there, because in the Hebrew, the word used is identical for “sin” and “sin-offering.” I think it was unfortunate that the translators did not make that clear. God is saying? “Cain, if you won’t or can’t bring a lamb sacrifice on your own, I’ve put one at your front door for you to use. It’s not going to fight with you. He’s going to be perfectly willing to have you pick him up and bring him to me for a sacrificial offering. All you’ve got to do is pick him up and bring him.” God hasn’t changed! So now, let’s go back to Genesis 22. God providentially provided the ram, caught in the thicket; and Abraham apparently had no difficulty in getting the ram from the thicket to the altar. He had no help except, possibly, that of Isaac. Several lessons ago we went through some names of Jehovah, and made mention of this?
‘And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh (The LORD who provides, or Jehovah the provider): as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.’ And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, ‘By myself have I sworn,’ saith the LORD, ‘for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son;…’” Watch verse 17, and be reminded, you’ve seen this before:
“‘…That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;…’” Verse 18 is a repetition of the Abrahamic Covenant back in Chapter 12:
“‘And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.’” Unless we understand the Covenants in the Old Testament, it’s hard to comprehend what we talk about in the New Testament.
“So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, ‘Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;’” Remember, Nahor was in Syria north of present day Damascus.
“And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.” Rebekah soon will come on the scene as Isaac’s wife. Now look at an interesting tidbit in Chapter 23:1:
“And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.” It’s interesting that Sarah is the only woman mentioned in The Bible whose age is given!
“And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”
Though Abraham had the Middle East deeded to him in Chapter 15 by God, he still bought a tract of land to have a place to bury his wife. Verse 11, where Ephron the Hittite said to Abraham:
“‘Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.’ And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, ‘But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.’”
I think it’s interesting that Abraham is not satisfied with accepting a certain amount of acres free for nothing, even though he could have. He insisted on paying for it. I don’t know how much we can connect with this, but even in present day Jewry, when it comes to the burial of their dead, they are very particular. A few years ago they made a big furor about the things being built near, or over a Jewish Holocaust cemetery. In an article in the Jerusalem Post recently, a rabbi pointed out this same thing. He said, “Even today, we Jews are particular about where we bury our loved ones.” I thought it was interesting that so much of the Old Testament record of the ancients remains true today. So they bartered; which they were both very good at – Arabs and Jews .
“And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, ‘My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.’ And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. And the field of Ephron, which was in Mach-pelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.” In other words, Abraham paid Ephron for the field. It was surveyed and the ownership was legally transferred to Abraham. It wasn’t only Sarah who was to be buried there, but also Abraham, Isaac, and, I think, Rebekah were buried there.
“And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Mach-pelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.”
In our next lesson, we will be going for a bride for Isaac. Abraham is going to send his servant back into the land of his relatives to get a bride for his son, Isaac. But why go all that way when there are lots of eligible girls right at home? Abraham instructed his servant not to take a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanite women. But later on, when Esau came on the scene, he married two Canaanite women who were a grief to Isaac and Rebekah. So, keep all these things in the perspective of Scripture, because God is preparing everything for the Covenant people of Israel. This is the way I like to look at the Nation of Israel today. They are in their land in unbelief, and, contrary to everything we think, they should be. But they are still under the sovereign will of their God, because God is watching out for Israel. They are still the Covenant people, and even back here, God had to watch who they would marry.
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