What does Genesis 22:4 mean?
ESV: On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.
NIV: On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
NASB: On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
CSB: On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
NLT: On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
KJV: Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
NKJV: Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.
Verse Commentary:
God has commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac, whom he loves, as a burnt offering in the land of Moriah. Moriah was about 50 miles from Beersheba, where Abraham lived. After a three-day journey with his donkey, two servants, all the wood needed for an offering, and Isaac, Abraham finally arrives at a place where he is able to see the mountainous region ahead of them.

Abraham's willingness to obey this command is not an instance of blind faith. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. Prior incidents in Abraham's life have shown him that God can accomplish good, even when human beings do not fully understand how it is possible. Isaac's own birth was an example of God fulfilling a promise which seemed impossible, from a human perspective (Genesis 17:17; Genesis 21:1–2). Abraham is trusting his prior experience with God, assuming that God will—somehow—make this situation right. Abraham obeys, not because he suddenly thinks God wants human sacrifice, but because he assumes, with trusting faith, that God is planning something behind the scenes.
Verse Context:
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.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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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