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Hebrews 6:13-20 – OT

05.02.2011

Gen 22:1-18

Perhaps Abe’s most famous story, today’s passage recounts the almost-sacrifice of Isaac.  As it’s familiar to most, I won’t do a blow-by-blow recounting of the tale, but, as always, the link to the passage itself is up at the top of the post.  Herewith, some reactions:

First, notice the three times Abe responds when someone speaks to him:

1 | After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’  And he said, ‘Here am I.’

7 | And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’  And he said, ‘Here am I, my son.’

11 | But the angel of the Lord called to him from Heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’  And he yelled, ‘Here am I.’

In three instances, at three different times in the story, and in response to three different calls, Abe says, ‘Here am I.’  As this is a story about faith, I see in this response a distillation of faith.  Faith is declaring ourselves to the Lord, responding to His call.  Faith is loving those that God has put in our lives by being present.  Faith is waiting for deliverance and responding when it comes.  Faith is saying, ‘Here am I.  This is where I stand.  I do not hide myself or prevaricate.’

Secondly, there are two illustrations of the Gospel played out in this story.  The first and most oft-cited is that faith and righteousness are inextricably linked.  We cannot be righteous on our own; only through our faith will we be credited with righteousness.  The second, however, is that it introduces the notion of substitutionary atonement, the idea that God will provide another to stand in and bear our sacrifice.  In v. 2, God tells Abe to take Isaac to the ‘land of Moriah,’ which we find out in 2 Chron 3 is the hill country of Jerusalem.  So God provides a ram in substitutionary atonement in the place where He would later have Israel build His temple for the institutionalized substitutionary atonement sacrifices and where He would later send His own Son to die in our place to atone for our sins.  There’s a lot of foreshadowing in this story.

Thirdly, and lastly, Gen 15:6 is where Abraham’s faith is famously counted to him as righteousness.  Yet it’s not until this episode that God makes unconditional His previous promise to Abe of offspring as numerous as the stars in the heavens or the sand on the shore.  Here God swears by Himself that it will be so.  So we see, again, the link between faith and works, faith and obedience.  In chapter 15, Abe had faith, for which he was rewarded, but it isn’t until today’s story that his faith is completed or fulfilled through obedience.  And so it is an act of obedience on the part of Abe that results in God’s promise of a descendent who will possess the gates of the enemy and bless all the nations of the earth (Christ), who accomplishes this through His own obedience to death.

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