Advent Day 2: Genesis 22:1-19

Hi friends,

We want to experience Christmas as meaningful. To prepare our hearts to worship Immanuel, God with us, we are studying God’s word together this Advent.

You can learn more here:

Our second Advent reading is Genesis 22:1-19. This is one of the greatest tests of human faith in all of literature. To think of such a test for myself, with my two children, is unthinkable. In reading this story, I identify with the agony and anxiety that Abraham must have endured as he sought to uncover how God would provide for the burnt offering.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

“Take your son,” he said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the knife, and the two of them walked on together.

Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.”

And he replied, “Here I am, my son.”

Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together.

When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.

But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

He replied, “Here I am.”

Then he said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.” Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. And Abraham named that place The LORD Will Provide, so today it is said, “It will be provided on the LORD’s mountain.”

Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn,” this is the LORD’s declaration: “Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the city gates of their enemies. And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed my command.”

Abraham went back to his young men, and they got up and went together to Beer-sheba. And Abraham settled in Beer-sheba.

Abraham calls God, “Jehovah Jireh.” It means, “The Lord will provide.”

In this passage, YHWH’s provision and promise of uncountable offspring stands in dramatic contrast to other Ancient Near Eastern deities.

As the IVP Old Testament Background Commentary explains:

In the ancient Near East, the god that provides fertility (El) is also entitled to demand a portion of what has been produced. This is expressed in the sacrifice of animals, grain and children. Texts from Phoenician and Punic colonies, like Carthage in North Africa, describe the ritual of child sacrifice as a means of insuring continued fertility.

This is one of the great questions of the Bible - and of human history.

What must we give to get what we want?

The default approach to this question is to assume that the price is high. To be successful in life we might have to sacrifice our health, our friendships, or even our children.

In this passage, we see that God is the one who provides all that is needed to worship him. And God also abundantly promises more than Abraham could have ever wanted.

It is a staggering promise. How would Abraham’s offspring bless all the nations of the earth?

Assuming Abraham lived around 2000 B.C., there remained a long waiting period to see the fulfillment of this promise in Jesus.

The geographical connections between this story and the death of Jesus are remarkable. Wenham notes,

Moriah is usually identified with the mountain in Jerusalem where the temple was erected (2 Ch. 3:1). Thus, Abraham’s sacrifice of the ram foreshadowed the subsequent animal sacrifices in the temple, as well as the supreme ‘Lamb of God’ (Jn. 1:29).

Even after Jesus came, it would take even more time before the good news was announced around the world. As Paul wrote in Romans 15, “And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” Today there are billions of unreached people.

And as we wait for the Second Coming of Christ, we may be tempted to wonder when God will provide the salvation we are waiting for. As we prepare for Christmas, and anticipate Christ’s return, our hearts can be encouraged by the example of Abraham’s faith.

Personal Reflection and Community Discussion Questions:

  1. How has God already provided for you?

  2. How does the process of remembering God’s past provision help you wait for God’s future provision?

You are encouraged to share other reflections on these passages.


This is such a moving passage, with so much embedded in it about the gospel message and the provision that God has made for mankind as a whole as well as for individuals.

I’m really struck by the significance of this:

Whilst from further East than Phoenicia or Carthage, Abraham also came from a pagan culture where child sacrifice to the god Marduk was part of the collective consciousness when it came to appeasing the gods. How strange for him then, to step away from this religious practice and to be seemingly asked by his new God to do the very thing that he has left behind. On the one hand, there must have been a familiarity to Abraham of child sacrifice, yet on the other hand, such confusion as to why YHWH would ask this of him.

I’ve always looked at Abraham in this story as being full of sorrow and heartache at the potential sacrifice of Isaac but I never considered the cultural and religious confusion he must have battled whilst preparing for it.

It means that through the layers of heartache and confusion, his declaration that “God will provide” is even more profound and faith filled than I previously understood.

So in considering how God provides for me personally, it makes me pause to consider that it is ok to be confused and perhaps burdened whilst simultaneously trusting God for his provision. To be confused and sad isn’t necessarily a lack of faith. We see the psalms recounting what God did for the Israelites in bringing them out of Egypt. Psalm 105 is great example of how and why we are told to recount God’s great deeds of provision. We see why it is so important to remember how he has provided, because it strengthens our hearts for the future.

1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.

I’m certainly encouraged by this as I wait on the Lord for things that my family and business need provision for.

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