The Old Testament Lesson for the first Sunday in Lent is from the first book of the Torah—Genesis. The text is not only the well-known and much discussed account of Abraham’s almost sacrifice of his son, Isaac, but it is also holds special reverence for the Jewish people who refer to it as the “Aqadah,” (עקד) which is the Hebrew word for “Binding.” The reason this account stands out for the Jews is the unique set of circumstances which surround it and the dreadful ramifications. The Abrahamic covenant is in grave danger because the LORD has called upon Abraham to sacrifice his only son—the son in the Messianic line. In addition, there is the peculiar nature of this sacrifice. Obviously, the sacrifice of a human is not condoned by later Levitical Law. But of greater significance, Isaac would be the ONLY living sacrifice in the Old Testament. In Hebrew culture and according to God’s commands sacrifices were first killed and drained of blood, then they were placed on the altar for sacrifice. Isaac was bound, alive, to the wood of the altar. Of course, there is ONLY ONE other living, bound sacrifice as recorded in the New Testament—Jesus!!
The amount of Messianic/Christological connections in this account is stunning. After a three day journey the LORD brings Abraham and Isaac to Mount Moriah, which is later to be the Temple Mount called Mount Zion. While the donkey was fully capable of carrying wood up this mountain, Abraham places the wood on Isaac. Isaac carries the wood for his own sacrifice. Then, there is the language of, “Take your son, your only son... (3X),” while Abraham has another son named Ishmael, and the language, “On this mountain the LORD will provide...” All of this taken into consideration along with the “binding” of the sacrifice gives us a strong foreshadowing and focus upon the Christ and His sacrifice upon the wood of the tree. This is an excellent Old Testament text with which to begin Lent!
Of course, there is ONLY ONE other living, bound sacrifice as recorded in the New Testament—Jesus!!
22:1 נִסָּה (nis-Sah) root: נסה (naw-saw) Piel: “to put (someone) to the test; tempt; try”
22:2 יְחִידְךָ (ye-chi-de-Cha) “only one; only” Remember, Abraham has another son. The language is similar to John 3:16 “...His only begotten Son...”
וְהַעֲלֵהוּ (ve-ha-a-Le-hu) root: עלה (aw-law) “to offer; offer up (as a burnt offering)”
22:3 וַיַּשְׁכֵּם (vai-yash-Kem) root: שׁכם (shaw-kam) Hiphil: “to rise early”
וַיַּחֲבֹשׁ (vai-ya-cha-Vosh) root: חבשׁ (khaw-bash) Qal: “to saddle”
וַיְבַקַּע (vay-vak-Ka) root: בקע (baw-kah) Piel: “to split; cut into pieces; cleave”
22:4 מֵרָחֹק (me-ra-Chok) “from a distance”
22:5 הַחֲמוֹר (ha-cha-Mor) “ass” “the ass/donkey”
22:6 הַמַּאֲלֶלֶת (ham-ma-a-Che-let) from: מַאֲכֶלֶת (mah-ak-eh-leth) “knife”
יַחְדָּו (yach-Dav) “together” Note how the wood was carried up the mountain by the intended sacrifice.
22:7-8 וְאַיֵּה (ve-ai-Yeh) “where?”
הַשֶּׂה (has-Seh) “lamb; sheep; goat” This term generally refers to a small livestock animal and could be younger or older.
22:9 וַיַּעֲרֹךְ (vai-ya-a-Roch) root: ערך (aw-rak) Qal: “to lay out; arrange; set in order; set out”
וַיַּעֲקֹד (vai-ya-a-Kod) root: עקד (aw-kad) Qal: “to bind; tie up; truss the legs” This is the root for the term “aqadah” (binding).
22:10 לִשְׁחֹט (lish-Chot) root: שׁחט (shaw-khat) Qal: “to slaughter”
22:12 מְאוּמָּה (me-Um-mah) “anything at all”
יְרֵא (ye-Re) root: ירא (yaw-ray) Qal: “to fear; honor; reverence”
חָשַׂכְתָּ (cha-Sach-ta) root: חשׂך (khaw-sak) Qal: “to withhold; hold back; keep back; to refrain”
22:13 נֶאֱחַז (ne-e-Chaz) root: אחז (aw-khaz) Niphal: “to be caught; held fast”
בַּסְּבַךְ (bas-se-Vach) from: סְבַךְ (seb-awk) “thicket” “in the thicket”
בְּקַרְנָיו (be-kar-Nav) from: קֶרֶן (keh-ren) “horn” “by the horns”
22:16 יַעַן (Ya-an) “because; on account of”
Note the repetition of the verb חשׂך (khaw-sak) “to withhold; hold back”
22:17 כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וְכַחוֹל (ke-choch-Vei hash-sha-Ma-yim ve-cha-Chol) “as the stars of the heavens and the sand (mud)...”
Important Abrahamic Covenant language is being used here and in verse 18.
22:18 וְהִתְבָּרֲכוּ (ve-hit-ba-ra-Chu) root: ברך (baw-rak) Hithpael: “to bless” “shall all... shall be blessed”
עֵקֶב (E-kev) “on account of”
The language and speech of God used here is amazing. Prophetic Christological verbiage delivers the message: “Abraham, because you did not withhold your son, your only son from me, I will not withhold my only Son from you and all your descendants—even all the nations.”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Genesis 22:1-18.
Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Genesis 22:1-18.