Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
How could God make that promise to Abraham and then ask him to kill the son of the promise just a few chapters later in Genesis 22? Many skeptics of the Christian faith point to incidents like this one and make claims that the God of the Old Testament is a ruthless murderer and a monster, but is that true? NO, because if we read in context this and all of the other claims skeptics make against God, we find the truth to be a much different and deeper story.
When we read any book or watch any movie we usually want to know what it is about (the big picture) before we view it so that we can follow the story and know what to look for. Hermeneutics is a common sense study method that helps us look at the big picture of any literature (not just in the Bible) and then focus down to the author’s intention and the specifics in the story that support that theme. If we look at the big picture of the Bible to find its intended theme it becomes clear that it is centered on our need for saving and God’s promise of a Savior; and If we read all of the books of the Bible through the lens of that theme we can then make sense of the stories within it.
Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason Christian Apologetics Ministry gives an excellent overview of the Bible in six minutes. If you like his presentation get his DVD series called “The Bible Fast Forward.”
Note: Human history begins to be recorded ca. 2500 BC
A Major Theological Event: The Abrahamic Covenant ca. 2091
This Covenant is a three-fold promise from God to Abraham for the following:
- A Nation: Consisting of a people, land and government.
- A Blessing: The Nation will be a blessing to the world, set apart, representing God, culminating in the person of Jesus who would come from this genealogy.
- Protection: A promise of protection for the Nation if they followed Him in all their ways.
Seven major promises that would come true from the Covenant concerning Abraham:
- Abraham would become a great nation
- Abraham would be blessed
- Abraham’s name would be great
- Abraham would be a blessing
- Those who bless Abraham would be blessed
- Those who curse Abraham would be cursed
- All people on earth would be blessed through Abraham
The Historical Context:
In Genesis 3:15 God makes a Promise of a coming savior because humankind has just fallen from grace and the relationship God intended to have with them. God’s Promise, and plan of implementing it, continues to be unfolded throughout the entire Old Testament beginning with Abraham, then through his son Isaac, and then to Isaac’s son Jacob whom God renames Israel. Jacob has twelve sons who become the Nation we know today as Israel.
Up until the time of Jesus the Jewish people could trace their lineage to one of these twelve sons or tribes.
Jacob (Israel) and his family end up in Egypt and become slaves there for 400 years until the time of Moses who God uses to free them and lead them out of this bondage. Joshua, Moses’ commander in chief, will then lead them into the Promised Land. Over time various Judges and Kings will rule this Nation in the Promised Land some who follow God, and many who do not resulting in the Nation’s falling away from God and the loss of His protection. Eventually Israel splits into northern and southern kingdoms and are subsequently taken captive by other nations. During the period of the Kings, David, a “man after God’s own heart,” would further be given the Covenant through the promise of an heir who will forever rule.
Jesus lineage can be traced (from both Mary and Joseph) back to King David and through the tribe of Judah!
God never gives up on his promised people and eventually they come back to the Promised Land after 70 years in Babylonian captivity. There is a revival by the people to follow God and they began to eagerly look for the coming of the Messiah (the promised Savior). The books of the Old Testament contain hundreds of prophecies pointing to the coming of Messiah, fulfilled in the person of Jesus hundreds of years latter.
Jesus is the “Scarlet Thread” of the entire Bible and the story it is not yet complete as we discover in the Book of Revelation.
Jesus is the reason for all that happened in the Old Testament because all of the narratives either point to him, or foreshadow him, or are given as typologies of him: Isaac’ near sacrifice by his father foreshadowed Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice; Joseph’s life modeled Jesus’ life; Moses was a type of Christ as rescuer of God’s people from slavery; the story of Ruth and Boaz demonstrated the purpose of redemption; and on and on…
Let’s look at one of these examples: The foreshadowing of Jesus in Isaac
- Angels brought the good news of the pending birth
- There was a lot of anticipation in the promised birth
- The birth was miraculous
- The Father’s suffering is demonstrated through Abraham
- Isaac carried the wood on his back
- Mt. Mariah’s shoulder, where Abraham took Isaac, is Golgotha
- The son willingly submitted to the father
- Isaac was at least 25 years old and could have been in his early 30’s
- The lamb provided by God models the substitutionary atonement
- Abraham spoke prophetically saying “God will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt-offering” (22:8 in KJV/ASV/RSV/CJB/OJB)
- The three days journey symbolized the three days in the grave
- Abraham’s faith showed belief that God could raise Isaac from the dead and the lamb provided by God was a substitute that symbolized the Resurrection (Hebrews 11:17-19)
- In chapter 24 Isaac can be seen as a ‘type of Christ’ who was an obedient son to Abraham his father (symbolizing God the Father) and patiently waited for his bride (symbolizing the Church).
- Eliezar, Abraham’s servant, can be seen as a ‘type of the Holy Spirit’ who leads the bride to Isaac (symbolizing Jesus) as directed by Abraham the Father (symbolizing God the Father).
- Rebekah can be seen as a ‘type of the Church, the bride of Christ,’ who faithfully comes to Isaac (symbolizing Jesus) trusting that what God is doing is in line with the purpose of her life.
The Covenant Promise is then continued and passed on to Abraham’s son Isaac in Genesis 26:2-5:
The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.”
Join us next week as we continue our study into Genesis 12-50: How does Judeo-Christian history differ from Islam?
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us this year as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
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