Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (July 2nd)

Pastor's Summary of Genesis 22:1-14

God has given Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac. Ishmael, born of a slave woman, has been banished, with his mother, Hagar. While Abraham's line will continue through Isaac, Ishmael too will be the father of a nation. Rabbis pointed out long ago that Abraham is tested ten times by God; our reading tells of the tenth.

We know that Abraham is being tested, but he does not. When God calls him, he is ready and available to do as God asks ("Here I am", v. 1). Isaac is his "only remaining son".(v. 2), the one through whom he will become "a great nation" (12:2). God asks much of Abraham: offer Isaac to him as a sacrifical offering-accept that God may undo his promise of descendants. Abraham travel from Beer-sheba (in southern Palestine) to a mountain God will show him-later known as Mount Zion. He is a man of action (v. 3). Part way there, "on the third day" (v. 4), he and Isaac leave their retainers behind. Isaac is naturally curious: where is the sacrificial animal? (v. 7). His father's answer (v. 8) is not a ruse; rather it shows Abraham's trust in God: he will "provide".

Abraham follows the normal procedure for a sacrifice; he even takes out his knife to slay Isaac, as an animal was slain. but at this moment "the angel" (v. 11, a messenger from God, perhaps the one who had called to Hagar from heaven, showing her the life-saving well during her flight with Ishmael, 21:17-19) , calls; he is God's life-preserving agent here too (v. 12). Abraham has shown himself totally obedient to God; he has shown that he holds God in proper respect ("fear"). A "ram" (v. 13) is sacrificed instead. V. 14 tells us how Mount "Moriah" (v. 2) got its name.  In vv. 15-18, through the angel, God renews his promise to "Abraham: he will bless him with many descendants (v. 17), and make them politically and militarily powerful; Abraham will be the source of oneness with God for "all the nations of the earth" (v. 18)-as God promised him, in 12:8, if he would leave Haran and settle in Palestine.