“Patriarchal Faith – Pt 2” – Hebrews 11:17-22

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Hebrews 11:17-22

“Patriarchal Faith – Pt 2”

Aux. Texts:  Genesis 22:1-12 & James 2:21-24

Call to Worship:  Psalm 103


Service Orientation: Genuine faith must be grounded in a solid source, and is proved genuine when what results is action.

Memory Verse for the Week: Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.   –Romans 4:16

Background Information:

  • Abraham, however, as a man of faith, held tenaciously to the conviction that what appeared to him to be an insoluble problem was for God no problem at all. Though everything else was obscure, one thing was clear to him, namely, that God, whose word was unshakably true, had a way of resolving the problem which was as yet unrevealed. (Phillip Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 483)
  • The definition of faith given in this verse, and exemplified in the various instances following, undoubtedly includes justifying faith, but not directly as justifying. For faith justifies only as it refers to, and depends on, Christ. But here is no mention of him as the object of faith; and in several of the instances that follow, no notice is taken of him or his salvation, but only of temporal blessings obtained by faith. And yet they may all be considered as evidences of the power of justifying faith in Christ, and of its extensive exercise in a course of steady obedience amidst difficulties and dangers of every kind. Now faith is the subsistence of things hoped for, the evidence or conviction of things not seen – Things hoped for are not so extensive as things not seen. The former are only things future and joyful to us; the latter are either future, past, or present, and those either good or evil, whether to us or others. The subsistence of things hoped for – Giving a kind of present subsistence to the good things which God has promised: the divine supernatural evidence exhibited to, the conviction hereby produced in, a believer of things not seen, whether past, future, or spiritual; particularly of God and the things of God. (John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible: Hebrews, 527)
  • The sacrificing of Isaac is to be estimated according to the purpose of the heart: for it was not owing to Abraham that he did not actually perform what he was commanded to do. His resolution to obey was then the same, as though he had actually sacrificed his son. (John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews, 214)


The question to be answered is…

What was so significant about the Patriarchs’ faith that we should continue to examine it today?


Their faith was significant because it was grounded in truth, and was closely followed by action; action which sprang forth from listening-to and trusting-in God.

The word of the day is… Faith

What should we grasp about faith from today’s texts?

  1. Genuine faith is marked by listening.

(Josh. 3; Ps. 81:11, 13; Pr. 1:5, 8:32, 34, 23:19; Ez. 2:7, 3:7; Zech. 7:13; Mat. 11:15, 13:16, 23, 15:10; Mark 4:20, 9:7; Luke 9:35, 10:16; John 10:8, 10:27; Acts 28:28)

In Hebrews there is an element which is regarded as absolutely essential to the development of the Christian life, and that is the quality of faith. It is what makes the Christian different from the non-Christian. That rather eccentric philosopher and nature lover of New England in the last century, Henry David Thoreau, once said, “If I seem to walk out of step with others, it is because I am listening to another drumbeat.” That is an exact description of faith: Christians walk as though listening to another drumbeat.  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 144)


  1. Genuine faith is marked by trusting.

(Ps. 19:7, 32:10, 37:5, 40:4, 56:1184:12; Prov. 3:5-6, 16:20, 29:25; Jer. 17:7; Nah. 1:7; Rom. 4:5, 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6, 1:3-9)

These three scenes present Isaac, Jacob and Joseph’s faith as looking beyond their death. They were confident that God would fulfill his promises even though they did not live to see them. Isaac, blind and aged, could not see which son was kneeling before him, but with the eyes of faith he could see what the future held for each of them. (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 140)

This presents briefly the greatest act of Abraham’s faith—his trusting in the absolutely unseen, and that at a time when he was bidden to do what seemed to conflict directly with God’s own promise. (R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews & James, 400)

  1. Genuine faith is marked by acting on what’s heard.

(Ps. 62:12; Mat. 13:23, Mark 4:20, Titus 1:16, Heb. 11:1, Ja. 1:25, 2:14-26; 1 John 3:18)

Perhaps more shocking than God’s incomprehensible command to sacrifice Isaac was Abraham’s immediate obedience! No arguing. No hesitation. No bargaining. No reminding God how long he and Sarah had waited. Instead, Abraham got up early, saddled up his donkey, and headed out to obey (Gen. 22:3; Heb. 11:17). (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 178)


Genuine faith, never grows without listening-to, trusting-in, and living life with, Jesus.

(Ps. 92:12; 1 Cor. 3:6-7; Eph. 4:1-16; Col. 1:10, 2:19; 2 Thes. 1:3; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18)

 In like manner God tests the faith of His people today. He calls upon them to perform the acts of obedience which are contrary to their natural affections and which are opposed to carnal reason. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 739)

The patriarchs, therefore, held to the five great standards of faith: its pilgrimage, in separation from the world; its patience, in waiting for God to work; its power, in doing the impossible; its positiveness, in focusing on God’s eternal promise; and its proof, in obedient sacrifice. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 336)


Worship Point:

Worship happens when our lives increasingly reflect the faith we have in, and love we have for, Jesus.

(Mat. 2:2, 11, 14:33, 28:9; John 9:38; Rom. 1:7, 10:17, 12:1)

What makes the dying faith of these three men so significant is that, like Abraham, they died without seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises. They passed them on to their children by faith. They had received the promises by faith and they passed them on by faith. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 338)

Christians seek a place that has that feel of constancy and goodness that doesn’t fade with time. We catch glimpses of it, feel impulses of it, sense the beginnings of it, and follow the one who knows where it is. Don’t be sidetracked by thats and thoses, which may burn hot but will surely burn out. Jesus has something better—we have a glimpse of it today; we’ll experience it in abundance in heaven. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 190)


Gospel Application:

Jesus isn’t looking for perfect people, He’s looking for people willing to trust him, and live life accordingly. 

Faith is the backbone and marrow of the Christian’s power to do good. We are weak as water until we enter into union with God by faith, and then we are omnipotent. (C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, 352)

The God we love may sometimes chasten us, it is true. But even this He does with a smile—the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is. (A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship, 29)

No sacrifice is too great if it enables us to conquer a lust which cuts us off from Jesus.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 132)


Spiritual Challenge Questions:

  • Is your life reflecting a growing trust in Jesus? How can you tell? ( Prov. 3:5-6; Luke 16:10; Rom. 4:5, 15:13; 1 Co. 4:2; 1 Pet. 2:6)
  • What areas of your life lack the kind of trust you want or need to have in Jesus? (Ps. 23:1, 34:9, 34:10; Mat. 9:28, 21:22; John 1:12)
  • If your trust in Jesus isn’t growing, what is hindering that growth? (Mark 9:24; Luke 8:1-15, 17:5-6; John 1:50; John 3:12-21, 36, 5:24; Rom. 3:22, 10:4; 12:1)


Quotes to note…

The bounty of God should encourage us to surrender freely whatever He calls for, for none ever lose by giving up anything to God. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 745)

God must come first in our lives, or he comes nowhere. (William Barclay, The Daily Bible Study Series: Hebrews, 152)

The crux of Abraham’s crisis is the seeming contradiction between the promises of God which were to be fulfilled through his heir, Isaac (Heb. 11:18), and the command of God to sacrifice that heir (11:17). Thus Abraham was forced into a radical posture of trusting God. Our author’s logical deduction is that “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead” (11:19)—the only way that both the promises and the command could be fulfilled. (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary, 379)

The great enemy of faith is a complacent spirit, an attitude of self- satisfaction with the status quo.  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 145)

We are not saved by obedience, for obedience is the result of salvation. We are saved by faith, because faith leads us to obey. Faith is weakness clinging to strength, and becoming strong through so doing. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon #2209)

It was not Abraham’s business to keep God’s promise for Him; it was God’s business to do that for Himself, and He did it. You remember how Rebekah tried to make God’s promise come true for Jacob, and what a mess she made by her plotting and scheming. When we give our attention to keeping God’s precepts and leave Him to fulfill His own promises, all will be well. It was Abraham’s part to offer up his son; it was God’s part to fulfill the promise to His seed according to the covenant that He had made. (C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, 351)

Abraham … offered Isaac as a sacrifice. The command was to “offer him as a burnt-offering,” which first had to be killed and then consumed by fire. So the apostle affirms that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice, whereas we know how he was delivered. But this means that Abraham fully obeyed God’s command here. He did it in his will, heart, and affections, although it was never eventually carried out. The will is accepted for the deed. The correct meaning is that Abraham fully obeyed God’s command. (John Owen, Hebrews, 227)

If you start on the voyage of life, by divine grace, with the resolve that you will follow the track; marked down on the chart by the Lord your God, you will find that you have chosen a course to which the Lord’s hand alone can keep you true. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon #2209)

Every sacrifice that was offered up by patriarchs, was a testimony of their faith in a greater sacrifice yet to come. Every shedding of the blood of lambs and goats under the Mosaic law was meant to foreshadow the dying of the true Lamb of God for the sin of the world. When Christ was crucified, these sacrifices and types received their full accomplishment. The true sacrifice for sin was at length offered; the real atoning blood was at length shed. From that day the offerings of the Mosaic law were no longer needed. Their work was done. (J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, 109)

Abraham was instructed to command his children to follow the Lord. “For I (God) have chosen him (Abraham), in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice (Genesis 18:19). God is looking for fathers who will take seriously the command to train, protect, and guard their children. Adam, the first man, was told to keep the garden. (Jim Anderson, Unmasked: Exposing the Cultural Sexual Assault, 183)

Don’t expect the people of this world to treat you as one of themselves—if they do, be afraid. Dogs don’t bark when a person goes by that they know—they bark at strangers. When people slander and persecute you no longer, be afraid. If you are a stranger, they naturally bark at you. Don’t expect to find comforts in this world that your flesh would long for. This is our inn, not our home. We tarry here a night; we are away in the morning. We may bear the discomforts of the evening and the night, for the morning will break so soon. Remember that your greatest joy while you are a pilgrim is your God. So the text says, “God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God” (Heb 11:16). (C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, 355)


Further quotes, resources, or things that didn’t make it to print . . .

And offered up his only-begotten Son, etc. By these various circumstances, the Apostle intended to show, how great and how severe the trial of Abraham was; and there are still other things related by Moses, which had the same tendency. Abraham was commanded to take his own son, his only begotten and beloved son Isaac, to lead to the place, which was afterwards to be shown to him, and there to sacrifice him with his own hands. These tender words God seems to have designedly accumulated, that he might pierce the inmost heart of the holy man, as with so many wounds; and then that he might more severely try him, he commanded him to go a threedays’ journey. How sharp, must we think, was his anguish to have continually before his eyes his own son, whom he had already resolved to put to a bloody death! As they were coming to the place, Isaac pierced his breast with yet a new wound, by asking him, “Where is the victim?” The death of a son, under any circumstances, must have been very grievous, a bloody death would have still caused a greater sorrow; but when he was bidden to slay his own, — that indeed must have been too dreadful for a father’s heart to endure; and he must have been a thousand times disabled, had not faith raised up his heart above the world. It is not then without reason, that the apostle records that he was then tried. (John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews, 214)


It may be that Isaac, though a gift from God, began to usurp God’s place. An Isaac may become an idol. The dearest thing we have, the most precious, the most beloved, may still become an abomination by being made an idol to keep us away from God. Some people worship gods of mud, others worship gods of gold, but there is no difference in the idolatry, whether the image is made of mire or of the most precious metal. (C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, 349)


The faith that was undismayed when the promise of a son was uttered was still undaunted when the Lord demanded the life that He had so strangely given. Perhaps God gave it such a supreme test because of its very grandeur. The trial was terrible, but still Abraham believed. Possibly he did not understand the trial; he did not want to understand. He believed, and he took God at His word, and he would do what God bade him do, whatever that might be, and he would leave the Lord to extricate him out of any difficulties into which his obedience might bring him. Thus God tried his faith. (C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, 350)


By faith Joseph, as he was dying Death is a great tester of a man’s sincerity, and a great shaker down of bowing walls and tottering fences. Men have thought that it was all well with them, but when the swellings of Jordan have been about them, they have found matters quite otherwise. Here we see Joseph so calm, so quiet, that he remembers the covenant, falls back upon it, and rejoices in it. He speaks of dying as though it were only a part of living, and comparatively a small matter to him. He gives no evidence of trepidation whatsoever. No fear distracts him, but he bears his last witness to his brothers who gather about his bed concerning the faithfulness of God and the infallibility of his promise. (C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, 353)


The mountain of safety is Calvary. Where Jesus died, there you shall live. There is death everywhere else, but there is life in His death. Trust Him. God gave His Son, equal with Himself, to bear the burdens of human sin, and He died a substitute for sinners—a real substitute, and an efficient substitute for all who trust in Him. If you will trust your soul with Jesus, you are saved. Your sin was laid on Him. It is forgiven you. It was blotted out when He nailed the handwriting of ordinances to His cross. Trust Him now and you are saved. That is, you shall become a stranger and a pilgrim, and in the better land you shall find the rest that you never shall find here. (C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, 356)


For God to command the offering of a human sacrifice seemed in itself savage and immoral, but to require that Isaac should be the victim seemed also to overthrow the very heart of the promise and the covenant and to cast a cloud over the trustworthiness of God. For the man of faith, however, whose whole life is committed to God and his truthfulness, conclusions of this sort are unthinkable. (Phillip Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 482)

… as one generation succeeded another and the promises still awaited fulfillment, his purpose was effectively served by pointing to the triumph of faith in the face of death, the last and darkest trial of all. (Phillip Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 487)


The message is clear: the line of the promise is not the line of the flesh but the line of faith; the true heir is not the outward heir but the inward heir; “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants” (Rom. 2:28f.; 9:6ff.); for, in the ultimate perspective, they who are one by faith with Christ, and only they, are “Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29)–that community of believers, in other words, who are born, “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” on. 1:12f.). (Phillip Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 487-8)


17. God put Abraham’s faith to its greatest test when He asked him to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. This great man, to whom the promises were made, didn’t waver. He was actually ready to slay his only beloved son (by Sarah) as an offering to God. 18. His willingness to do this is remarkable, for it was through this very son Isaac, that God had promised to make a great nation of Abraham. 19. This amazing man came to the conclusion that God must be able to bring people back from the dead. Therefore, when Isaac was spared, there is a sense in which Abraham received him back from the dead. (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 261)


What a demand! God had given Isaac to Abraham, making it clear that ALL the promises were to be fulfilled through him. There was no one else. Isaac was unique. He was the only son of Sarah. The Lord had said that ALL of Abraham’s descendants were to come through Isaac. And now God was asking him to slay him as a sacrifice. It didn’t make sense. If the nation was to come out of Isaac, and the world to be blessed by that nation, God’s command appeared to wipe out the promises. But what was the patriarch to do? Whether or not he understood the reason behind the command he had no choice but to obey. What a test! Imagine being told to kill the very one through whom all the promises had to be fulfilled! Well, Abraham set out with his son and a servant to journey to the place where he was to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God. (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 262)


CONCLUSION. As Abraham pondered the dilemma, he knew there had to be a way out. After all, how could God’s Word fail? He had already proved Himself to be the God of the impossible, One Who could do anything He said He would do. Therefore Abraham concluded that God MUST HAVE a way to keep those promises even if Isaac were slain. But how would He do it? Then Abraham’s faith came up with a fantastic idea. “God will raise him back up after I kill him!” What makes this so amazing is that such a thing had never happened before. Abraham simply reasoned that God must be able to raise people from the dead. To his mind, this was the only way the command to kill Isaac could be reconciled to the promises God had given him. So he took it on faith that God would solve the dilemma by restoring Isaac to him. How do we know Abraham believed this? From what he said to the servants as he ordered them to wait at the foot of the mountain. “You men wait here while the lad and I go yonder, and WE WILL come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). See—his faith had already triumphed over the dilemma. He was ready to carry out God’s command. His faith saw a way out of the impossible situation. What lessons we learn from this great man. Into all of our lives there come tests which seem to defy explanation. Many of us ask, “Why me, Lord?” Sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all. We must then do as Abraham did, trust God to know what He is doing. We also see that God doesn’t hesitate to ask for things which are near and dear to us. Yet if we truly believe He loves us enough to die for us, and seeks only to bless us, we will willingly give up anything He asks of us. When that time comes, it helps to think of Abraham and what was asked of him. Our test may not seem so rough then. (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 263)


Abraham was willing to give up his son when God commanded him to do so (Genesis 22:1-19). God did not let Abraham take Isaac’s life because God had given the command in order to test Abraham’s faith. Instead of taking Abraham’s son, God gave Abraham a whole nation of descendants through Isaac. If you are afraid to trust God with your most prized possession, dream, or person, pay attention to Abraham’s example. Because Abraham was willing to give up everything for God, he received back more than he could have imagined. What we receive, however, is not always immediate, or in the form of material possessions. Material things should be among the least satisfying of rewards. Our best and greatest rewards await us in eternity. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 190)


The ancient story of deception, greed, birthright, and blessing is of no concern here. Verses 20-21 focus on the “blessing” conferred by aged fathers on their sons. Before the father died, he performed a ceremony of blessing in which he officially handed over the birthright to the rightful heir. Although the firstborn son was entitled to the birthright, it was not actually his until the blessing was pronounced. Before the blessing was given, the father could take the birthright away from the oldest son and give it to a more deserving son. But after the blessing was given, the birthright could no longer be taken away. This is why fathers usually waited until late in life to pronounce the blessing. They were looking forward to the future as they conferred blessings on their children. They trusted in God’s future promises and were able to trust their children to the future. Faith in the promises of God allowed Isaac to bless his sons concerning things to come. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 191)


When tested, Abraham’s faith obeyed. When tested, his faith also trusted God’s promises. “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead. ” Abraham showed this faith when at the foot of Mt. Moriah in Genesis 22:5 he told his servants, “Stay here … while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then WE will come back to you.” With the logic of faith Abraham reasoned that God who had given him Isaac when he was as good as dead could give him back Isaac from the dead. And figuratively speaking, that’s what happened. Abraham had wholeheartedly given Isaac over to God only to receive him back as from the dead. (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 139)


God’s ability to raise men even from the dead would not have been too readily accepted even by Abraham, but he had come to the view that this would be the only way that God could maintain his integrity if the offering of Isaac was to proceed. To argue like this speaks much for the maturity of Abraham’s faith, for it would have been more natural to question his guidance in the offering of Isaac. But he seems to have had no doubts about this. The words could, of course, be taken in a different way to refer to Isaac’s birth, which was as much a challenge to Abraham’s faith. Indeed the quotation in verse 18 comes from the account of Isaac’s birth. This would give added point to the ‘only son’, i.e. the son who was virtually raised from the deadness of Sarah’s womb. This is the sense in which Paul considers Abraham’s faith in Romans 4. (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews, 236)


Abraham is the pattern of the man who accepts what he cannot understand. (William Barclay, The Daily Bible Study Series: Hebrews, 152)


As Chrysostom put it: “The things of God seemed to fight against the things of God, and faith fought with faith, and the commandment fought with the promise.’ For everyone at some time there comes something for which there seems to be no reason and which defies explanation. It is then that a man is faced with life’s hardest battle—to accept when he cannot understand. At such a time there is only one thing to do—to obey and to do so without resentment, saying: “God, you are love! I build my faith on that.” (William Barclay, The Daily Bible Study Series: Hebrews, 152)


Sometimes, just one tiny letter in a word can make all the difference. In Genesis 22:5, Abraham told his servants that he and Isaac were going to go on farther, worship, and “return” (NASB). Abraham used the plural form of the Hebrew verb—nashuvah [H7725] (“we will return”)—rather than the singular form—ashuvah [H7725] (“I will re- turn”). This one-letter change (a to na) evinces Abraham’s complete trust in God’s promise to make Isaac’s offspring into a mighty nation (Heb. 11:18). This faith freed Abraham to fully obey a command he didn’t entirely understand. How could Abraham reconcile the com- mand to offer Isaac as a burnt offering with his confidence that he and Isaac would both come down from the mountain? The author of Hebrews gives us the answer: “He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type” (11:19). (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 178)


Genesis 22 contains the story of Abraham’s greatest test of faith. This story reveals Abraham’s readiness to obey God at the expense of Isaac, to cling to God’s promises even though obedience to God’s command would nullify it, and to believe that God would raise Isaac from the dead. (William Hendrikson and Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 327)


Abraham obeyed. He fully complied with God’s request. In fact, if God had not intervened, Isaac would have been killed. Abraham showed his unwavering faith in God in humble obedience to God’s word. He demonstrated his love for God above anyone else, even his son Isaac. (William Hendrikson and Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 327)


Of course, Isaac did not die, someone may say, and therefore a resurrection from the dead did not take place. The author of Hebrews anticipates this observation, and to avoid any misunderstanding he adds the phrase that is translated as “and figuratively speaking.” Because Abraham’s obedience was complete, Isaac had no way of escape. Only God’s direct intervention saved his life, and thus “figuratively speaking” he was brought back to life. (William Hendrikson and Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 328)


God called Abraham “to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance” (v. 8). That was not easy for Abraham, for he had to leave his relatives and go to an unknown land. The patriarch believed God and obeyed his Word. God still calls men and women to leave their loved ones and their familiar surroundings to bring the gospel to people living in other lands. These men and women serve “in the army of the Lord.” Obediently they respond to God’s call and give their time and talent in complete dedication to God. These “soldiers of the cross” are indeed aliens and strangers in foreign lands. (William Hendrikson and Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 329)


Abraham believed and loved God, who promised him a son. After many years of waiting, Abraham received this promised son and loved him. Then God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. If Abraham sacrificed Isaac, he would keep God but lose his son. If he disobeyed God, Abraham would keep his son but lose God. Abraham chose to obey God, and thus he placed the problem of losing his son of the promise in the hands of God. He believed that God could raise Isaac from death. In short, Abraham’s life with God bore the motto Trust and Obey. (William Hendrikson and Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 329-30)


Joseph’s command to bury his bones in Canaan was not an act of nostalgia or superstition, but an act of faith. Prophetically he spoke of the exodus and in faith saw that his remains would be carried to the Promised Land. He believed that God would fulfill his word. (William Hendrikson and Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 334)


If Noah illustrates the duration of faith, Abraham shows the depth of faith. In tremendous, monumental faith Abraham brought Isaac to the top of Mt. Moriah and prepared to offer him to God. He believed in resurrection from the dead even before God revealed the doctrine. He had to believe in resurrection, because, if God allowed him to carry out the command to sacrifice Isaac, resurrection was the only way God could keep His promise. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 335)


All three of these men believed God in the face of death. Their faith had sometimes wavered in life, but it was strong and confident in death. Death is the acid test of faith. For hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, courts of law have taken a dying man’s word at face value. The need for lying and deception is over, and what is said on a deathbed is usually believed. So with our testimony of faith. Not only is the need for hypocrisy and pretense over, but it is extremely difficult to fake faith when you know you are facing eternity. A dying man’s faith is believable because a sham cannot stand this test. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, 342)


Later writers, reflecting on the incident, make much of the turmoil in Abraham’s heart, although the biblical narrative has little enough to say on this score. Indeed, the impression which we get from the biblical narrative is that Abraham treated it as God’s problem; it was for God, and not for Abraham, to reconcile his promise and his command. So, when the command was given, Abraham promptly set about obeying it; his own duty was clear, and God could safely be trusted to discharge his responsibility in the matter. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Hebrews, 304)


When Abraham left his servants behind while he and Isaac went to the place of sacrifice, he said to them: “The boy and I will go on there and worship, and we will come back to you” (Gen. 22:5). The plain mean- ing of the text is that Abraham expected to come back with Isaac. But how could he come back with Isaac if Isaac was to be offered up as a burnt offer- ing? Only if Isaac was to be raised from the dead after being sacrificed. Abraham reckoned, says our author, that since the fulfilment of the promises depended on Isaac’s survival, God was bound (as he certainly was able) to restore Isaac’s life if his life had to be taken. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Hebrews, 304)


The statement that he “worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff,” is based on the Septuagint version of Gen. 47:31. The Masoretic text says that “Israel bowed himself on the bed’s head”; but the Septuagint transla- tors read Hebrew miṭṭāh, “bed,” as though it were maṭṭeh, “staff. ” The pic- ture of the patriarch sitting on his bed and leaning on his staff is convincing enough; the same cannot be said for the mistranslation in the Latin New Testament, which makes him worship the top of his staff—a form of words from which some curious inferences have been drawn. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Hebrews, 306)


How sharp, must we think, was his anguish to have continually before his eyes his own son, whom he had already resolved to put to a bloody death! As they were coming to the place, Isaac pierced his breast with yet a new wound, by asking him, ” Where is the victim ?” The death of a son, under any circumstances, must have been very grievous, a bloody death would have still caused a greater sorrow ; but when he was bidden to slay his own,—that indeed must have been too dreadful for a father’s heart to endure ; and he must have been a thousand times disabled, had not faith raised up his heart above the world. (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Vol XXII, 287)


In like manner, God tries His people today and puts to the proof the grace which He has communicated to their hearts: this, both for His own glory, and for their own comfort. The Lord is determined to make it manifest that He has on earth a people who will forsake any comfort and endure any misery rather than forego their plain duty; who love Him better than their own lives, and who are prepared to trust Him in the dark. So too we are the gainers, for we never have clearer proof of the reality of grace than when we are under sore trials. “Knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope” (Rom. 5:3, 4). As another has said, “By knocking upon the vessel we see whether it is full or empty, cracked or sound, so by these knocks of providence we are discovered.” (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 742)


God’s Word is not to be taken piece-meal by us, but received into our hearts as a whole: every part must affect us, and stir up dispositions in us which each several part is suited to produce. If the promises stir up comfort and joy, the commandments must stir up love, fear, and obedience. The precepts are a part of Divine revelation. The same Word which calls upon us to believe in Christ as an all-sufficient Saviour, also bids us to believe the command- ments of God, for the moulding of our hearts and the guiding of our ways. There is a necessary connection between the precepts and the promises, for the latter cannot do us good until the former be heeded: our consent to the Law precedes our faith in the Gospel. God’s commands “are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Christ must be accepted as Lawgiver before He becomes our Redeemer: Isa. 33:22. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 749)


This section resumes the exposition of faithful exploits, and four incidents are brought to the reader’s attention. They illustrate the power of the promise and the role of faith, both in receiving God’s promises and in anticipating them. Abra- ham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are summoned here as witnesses to the power of the promises of God. (Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 211)


The only incidents selected from the lives of Isaac and Jacob concern the blessings they bestowed on others. In the ancient world it was of the greatest possible importance to secure such parental blessing and receive the assurance of the future inheritance. What is astonishing about the blessing imparted to Jacob by Isaac is that in the biblical narrative it looks on a surface reading as though it owed more to Jacob’s deceptive skill than Isaac’s perceptive insight.2 But the narrative is found in Scripture in order to impress upon us the infinite wisdom, overruling sovereignty and astonishing mercy of God. (Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 212)


Chuck Smith, Online Commentary on Hebrews, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/smith_chuck/StudyGuides_Hebrews/Hebrews.cfm?a=1144017
v.18,19 God had told Abraham specifically that Abraham would have descendants through Isaac, and since Isaac did not have children at this point, Abraham knew that God would restore Isaac to life if necessary (Genesis 22:5- “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you”). There are parallels between Abraham offering up Isaac and God sacrificing His beloved Son. Abraham thought of Isaac as dead for the three day journey to Mount Moriah. Jesus was dead for three days. Isaac carried the wood for sacrifice on his back. Jesus carried the cross on His back. Both sons were submitted to the will of their fathers. Both sacrifices took place on Mount Moriah. Abraham had called the place “the Lord will provide” and said, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:14).


David Guzik, Commentary on Hebrews, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Hbr/Hbr-11.cfm?a=1144017
The verb tense for offered up indicates that as far as Abraham was concerned the sacrifice was complete. In his will and in his purpose he really did sacrifice his son.


Twelve Tests of Abraham
Abraham’s faith was tested at least twelve specific times. Some of them were not what we might call big tests, but together they establish a picture of Abraham as a person whose faith was genuine. After the last of these, God said, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). Each of Abraham’s tests can have applications for us:
(1) Genesis 12:1-7
Test: Abraham left Ur and Haran for an unknown destination at God’s direction.
Application: Do I trust God with my future? Is his will part of my decision making’
(2) Genesis 13:8-13
Test: Abraham directed a peaceful separation from Lot and settled at the oaks of Mamre.
Application: Do I trust God with my interests even when I seem to be receiving an unfair settlement’
(3) Genesis 14:13-18
Test: Abraham rescued Lot from the five kings.
Application: Does my faithfulness to others bear witness to my trust in God’s faithfulness’
(4) Genesis 14:17-24
Test: Abraham gave a tithe of loot to the godly king of Salem, Melchizedek, and refused the gift of the king of Sodom.
Application: Am I watchful in my dealings with people that I give proper honor to God and refuse to receive honor that belongs to him’
(5) Genesis 15:1-6
Test: Abraham trusted God’s promise that he would have a son.
Application: How often do I consciously reaffirm my trust in God’s promises’
(6) Genesis 15:7-11
Test: Abraham received the promised land by faith, though the fulfillment would not come for many generations.
Application: How have I demonstrated my continued trust in God during those times when I have been required to wait’
(7) Genesis 17:9-27
Test: At God’s command, Abraham circumcised every male in his family.
Application: In what occasions in my life have I acted simply in obedience to God, and not because I understood the significance of what I was doing’
(8) Genesis 18:1-8
Test: Abraham welcomed strangers, who turned out to be angels.
Application: When was the last time I practiced hospitality’
(9) Genesis 18:22-33
Test: Abraham prayed for Sodom.
Application: Am I eager to see people punished, or do I care for people in spite of their sinfulness’
(10) Genesis 20:1-17
Test: Abraham admitted to wrongdoing and took the actions needed to set things right.
Application: When I sin, is my tendency to cover up, or confess? Do I practice the truth that an apology must sometimes be accompanied by restitution’
(11) Genesis 21:22-34
Test: Abraham negotiated a treaty with Abimelech concerning a well.
Application: Can people depend on my words and promises’
(12) Genesis 22:1-12
Test: Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Application: In what ways has my life demonstrated that I will not allow anything to come before God’
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