What does Genesis 22:13 mean?
ESV: And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
NIV: Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
NASB: Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by its horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in the place of his son.
CSB: 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.
NLT: Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.
KJV: And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
Earlier in Genesis 22, Isaac had asked his father where the lamb was that they were to sacrifice. Abraham replied that the God would provide for Himself the lamb (Genesis 22:8). Whether Abraham understood that God had provided for Himself Isaac or that another lamb would be provided, we don't know. In either case, God does exactly as Abraham said He would.
The lamb, a ram, was presented ready-made to Abraham for the sacrifice. It was caught in a thicket right behind him. Abraham had only to replace Isaac with the ram and continue the offering. The ram given by God served as the substitute for Isaac in Abraham's burnt offering.
Again, we're told nothing of the emotions or words of Abraham or Isaac in response to all of this. What matters most to the Lord is made quite clear: their actions (James 2:20–22). Whatever he was feeling or thinking, Abraham trusted God and obeyed. He had passed the test, and the Lord had provided another offering as a way of worshipping God.
The call from heaven not to kill Isaac (Genesis 22:12), and the provision of a substitute sacrifice, serve to prove that Abraham's trust in God was well-placed. Just as He had in the past, God demonstrated that He was willing and able to keep His promises, and display His righteousness, even when limited human beings could not understand what was happening.
Genesis 22:1–19 takes place over the course of a few days, when Isaac is perhaps a teenager. God commands Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son as a burnt offering. Abraham sets out to obey without hesitation, acting in complete trust that God, somehow, will make all things right. Abraham stops the sacrifice only when the Lord intervenes. For his deep trust and obedience, the Lord renews and emphasizes His blessing on Abraham and his offspring, as well as promising to bless all nations through Abraham's descendants.
In a test of Abraham's faith and obedience, God commands Abraham to do a terrible thing: kill and offer his son Isaac, whom he loves, as a burnt offering. Abraham sets out to obey without hesitation, having finally learned to trust God's goodness over his own misunderstandings. Instead of allowing the boy to be sacrificed, the Lord calls out to Abraham moments before he kills Isaac, laying bound on an altar. Because of Abraham's obedience, God renews and emphasizes His promises of blessing, multiplied offspring, and victory over future enemies.
In the previous chapter, the long-promised Isaac was finally born to Sarah and Abraham, while Abraham's other beloved son, Ishmael, was sent away to be cared for by God apart from them. Now God tests Abraham's faith and obedience by commanding him to offer his precious son Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham sets out to obey without hesitation, stopping only when the Lord cries out to him. For Abraham's obedience, God renews and emphasizes the blessing on him and his offspring. This marks the beginning of the end of Abraham's story, as the book of Genesis transitions to focus on Isaac and his descendants.
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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