Abrahma moved from Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan. The God Who Is promised that he would have a son to inherit the Land that Yahweh had shown him in Genesis 12 though he was already 75 years old. By this time after the flood, this was already considered a senior citizen. Noah, who lived to 950 years-old was the last of the pre-flood geriatrics who lived for almost a millennium! His son, Shem (600 years), outlived Abraham, as did his son, Arpachshad (438 years), his son, Shela (433 years) and his son, Eber (464 years). So we can surmise that Terah (Abraham’s great-grandfather), Haran (his grandfather), Nahor (his dad) and Abraham all had first-hand accounts of the Great Deluge and preflood history from Noah and Shem. Even Isaac and Jacob may have encountered Shem as he died after Jacob had reached adulthood!
However, most people were now living less than 100 years when Abraham went from Ur of the Chaldeans to the land of the Canaanites. (Genesis 12:4-9) The godly lifestyle of worshippers of The One True God probably accounted for their longer survival than pagans worshiping false gods (Abraham = 175; Isaac = 180; Jacob = 147).
Some cool stuff happens in Genesis 13 and 14, but our focus jumps to Chapter 15 where The God Who Is (LORD God = YHWH Elohim) reaffirms his promise to Abe after he had lived among the Canaanites for ten years. The “swearing ceremony” in Genesis 15 is similar to covenants made between equals in Canaan. They would lay out the sacrifices as Abraham was instructed. Then the bargainers would stand at each end of the pieces and walk around to the other end, thus affirming the contract. Since The God Who Is has no equal, He swore by Himself, supernaturally passing a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch between the pieces and promised Abe that his own offspring would have the Land some call Greater Israel (although I expect we must wait for the return of Jesus for this to occur).
But Abraham had two sons. Lacking in faith, Sarai (not yet renamed Sarah) was concerned that she was getting old and had no children with Abraham. So per the customs of the city-states around them, she gave her maid to Abraham (Genesis 16) to raise a child for him as though she would be the “foster-mother” to a boy born to Hagar. Not sure where Abe’s faith was at this point, or if he was just horny, but he went into Hagar and she conceived and gave birth to Ishmael.
When one looks at Yahweh’s prophecy concerning this son, one can surmise how most of the conflicts in the MidEast developed: “He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Genesis 16:12)
In any case, this was not Abraham’s promised son! Even though he was now 86 years old, The God Who Is had a different plan in mind, one that would require the faith that had moved Abraham from Ur to Canaan. The Promised Son was not to be born naturally by a woman of child-bearing age.
Thirteen years later, The God Who Is appeared again to Abraham to affirm His covenant with him (Genesis 17) when Abraham was now 99 years old. In spite of Abraham’s appeal that Ishmael could be his heir, God told him his wife would bear him a son, even though she was 89! In Genesis 18 and 19 we get the name of the Promised Son, Isaac, as well as an excursion to Sodom and Gomorrah and how the Moabites and the Ammonites began; not a pretty story, but the Bible always tells the truth without concealing the heroes’ flaws. Genesis 20 is a case in point as Abraham is less than stellar in his integrity.
Finally, in Genesis 21 Isaac, the Promised Son, is born! But Genesis 22 brings an interesting twist to this story of Israel’s progenitors. And that is the subject of a movie, His Only Son, that is being released into theaters this weekend starting March 30, through April 5 (currently; new theaters are still opening). Anita and I have become spoiled for watching movies with lots of breaks, so we will probably wait for the DVD, but it you want an exciting experience in a theater, get a group of friends to go see this flick! The trailer looks amazing, and I hope the movie is as good as the promo! Please let me know if you see it, and perhaps I can do a synopsis of your reviews!
Imagine a man now at least 115 years old or more, escorted by his muscular teen-age son, and being challenged to offer this son, the PROMISED HEIR, as a sacrifice! Obviously, Abraham would not have been able to force his son. He had to convince him that The God Who Is knew what He was doing! — that He would raise Isaac, the Promised Son, from the dead!! Remember, Abraham had even told his servants, “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you,” BEFORE they went up the mountain!! (Genesis 22:5) This is legacy faith!!! Isaac had seen his Dad’s devotion to YHWH (Yahweh, The God Who Is) and had such trust in his earthly Dad that he was willing to give his life to his Dad’s faith.
If this sacrifice sounds familiar, it is because Isaac was a prototype of Jesus, foreshadowing the atonement He would commit, only without a rescue by an angel. Jesus went to the cross to die, not by the will of Pilate, the Roman governor, nor by Caiaphas or Annas, the High Priests of Israel, nor by the crowds of Jerusalemite Jews who wanted to maintain the status quo! He went by His own will and the will of the Father God, who could have called twelve LEGIONS of angels (120,000+) to rescue Jesus if He had just asked for such (Matthew 26:53).
However, “He saved others, He cannot save Himself.” (Matthew 27:42, Mark 15:31, Luke 23:35) The chief priests were again speaking prophetically, because if He saved Himself from the agony of the cross, He could not have saved us!
He still saves!! From the regrets of our past, from the offenses we have committed against others, from the guilt and shame of what we were; from the power of sin to rule over us!!! Jesus is the Only Son of God, the Promised Heir, our Redeemer.
[Note: Christians do NOT believe in three gods. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit (sometimes called the Holy Trinity) are One True God, somehow existing as three persons in one Being. This is a mystery we may never fully understand, because He alone IS God. There is none like Him.]