And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.…
I. ITS LEGALITY. Would God command to kill who saith, Thou shalt not kill?
(1) The supreme Lawgiver, who made that law, can out of His uncontrollable sovereignty, dispense with His own law.
(2) God did not command Abraham to do this, as it was an act of rebellion against His own moral law (which was not now promulgated, as after by Moses) nor against the law of nature, which is writ in every man's heart, and so in Abraham's (Romans 2:14, 15), but as it was an act of obedience to the great Lawgiver; and therefore it was necessary that Abraham should well know it was God, and not the devil, who tempted him to this act, which in itself seemed so unnatural for a father to kill his own son, and wherein God seemed so contrary to Himself, and to His own positive precepts and promises; this Abraham knew well,
(a) from special illumination;
(b) from familiar experience of God's speaking to him, whose voice he knew as well as the voice of his wife Sarah's.
(c) This voice came not to him in a dream (which would have been more uncertain, and less distinguishable from the devil's deceit), but while Abraham was awake; for it is not said that he stayed till he was awaked out of sleep, but immediately he rose up and addressed himself to his business, which intimates he understood his author from the plainest manner of speaking to him, without any ambiguity in so arduous an affair.
II. What were the DIFFICULTIES of Abraham's duty under this command of God?
1. God saith not to him, Take thy servants, but thy son. Oh then what a cutting, killing command was this to Abraham, Take (not thy servant, but) thy son!
2. Thy only son. Had he had many sons, the trial had been more bearable. Here was another aggravation; for a tree to have but one branch and to have that lopped off; for a body to have but one member, and to have that dismembered.
3. Yet higher, Whom thou lovest (Genesis 22:2). Isaac was a gracious and dutiful son, obedient both to his earthly and to his heavenly Father, and therefore Abraham did love him the more; had he been some graceless son, his grief had been the less.
4. Higher than that, Isaac was the son of God's promise — In him shall thy seed be called. So he was the son of all his father's hope of posterity, yet his expectation hereof, and of the accomplishment of God's promise (given to relieve him, when his mouth was out of taste with all His other mercies), as victory (Genesis 14.), protection and provision (Genesis 15:1): he could take no joy in his former conquest or present promise, because childless (Genesis 5:2) — must by this means be cut off in the offering up of Isaac.
5. But the greatest conflict of all was, that the Messiah was promised to come of Isaac, and so the salvation of the world did seem to perish with Isaac's perishing.Notwithstanding all these difficulties, Abraham acts his part of obedience —
1. With all alacrity and readiness to obey, he rose up early (Genesis 22:3), making no dilatory work about it. Thus David did, saying, I made haste, and delayed not (Psalm 119:60).
2. The constancy and continuance of this his ready obedience it is a wonder how his heart was kept in such an obedient frame for three days together, all the time of his travelling from Beersheba to Mount Moriah.
3. Abraham's prudence in leaving his servants and the ass at the foot of the hill (ver. 5).
4. Abraham's confidence herein.
(1) Speaking prophetically, we will both of us come again to God (Genesis 22:5), and(2) God will provide Himself a lamb (ver. 8). Abraham believed to receive his son again from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Yet this cannot be the genuine sense. As Abraham did, so every child of Abraham ought to evidence their fear and love to God (Genesis 22:12).
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.