Genesis 22:12
And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
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Genesis 22:12. Lay not thy hand upon the lad — God’s time to help his people is, when they are brought to the greatest extremity: the more imminent the danger is, and the “nearer to be put in execution,” the more wonderful and the more welcome is the deliverance. Now I know that thou fearest God — God knew it before, but now Abraham had given a memorable evidence of it. He need do no more; what he had done was sufficient to prove the religious regard he had to God and his authority. The best evidence of our fearing God is our being willing to honour him with that which is dearest to us, and to part with all to him, or for him.22:11-14 It was not God's intention that Isaac should actually be sacrificed, yet nobler blood than that of animals, in due time, was to be shed for sin, even the blood of the only begotten Son of God. But in the mean while God would not in any case have human sacrifices used. Another sacrifice is provided. Reference must be had to the promised Messiah, the blessed Seed. Christ was sacrificed in our stead, as this ram instead of Isaac, and his death was our discharge. And observe, that the temple, the place of sacrifice, was afterwards built upon this same mount Moriah; and Calvary, where Christ was crucified, was near. A new name was given to that place, for the encouragement of all believers, to the end of the world, cheerfully to trust in God, and obey him. Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide; probably alluding to what Abraham had said, God will provide himself a lamb. The Lord will always have his eye upon his people, in their straits and distresses, that he may give them seasonable help.At this critical moment the angel of the Lord interposes to prevent the actual sacrifice. "Lay not thy hand upon the lad." Here we have the evidence of a voice from heaven that God does not accept of human victims. Man is morally unclean, and therefore unfit for a sacrifice. He is, moreover, not in any sense a victim, but a doomed culprit, for whom the victim has to be provided. And for a typical sacrifice that cannot take away, but only shadow forth, the efficacious sacrifice, man is neither fit nor necessary. The lamb without blemish, that has no penal or protracted suffering, is sufficient for a symbol of the real atonement. The intention, therefore, in this case was enough, and that was now seen to be real. "Now I know that thou fearest God." This was known to God antecedent to the event that demonstrated it. But the original "I have known" denotes an eventual knowing, a discovering by actual experiment; and this observable probation of Abraham was necessary for the judicial eye of God, who is to govern the world, and for the conscience of man, who is to be instructed by practice as well as principle. "Thou hast not withheld thy son from me." This voluntary surrender of all that was dear to him, of all that he could in any sense call his own, forms the keystone of Abraham's spiritual experience. He is henceforth a tried man.11, 12. the angel … called, &c.—The sacrifice was virtually offered—the intention, the purpose to do it, was shown in all sincerity and fulness. The Omniscient witness likewise declared His acceptance in the highest terms of approval; and the apostle speaks of it as actually made (Heb 11:17; Jas 2:21). God knew the sincerity and resolvedness of Abraham’s faith and obedience before and without this evidence, and from eternity foresaw this fact and all its circumstances; and therefore you must not think that God had now made any new discovery: but this is spoken here, as in many other places, of God after the manner of men, who is then said to know a thing, when it is notorious and evident to a man’s self and others by some remarkable effect. Thus David prayed that God would search and know his heart, and his thoughts, Psalm 139:23, though he had before professed that God understood his thought afar off, Genesis 22:2. This therefore is the sense:

Now I know, i.e. Now I have what I designed and desired; now I have made thee and others to know. As the Spirit of God and of Christ is said to cry Abba, Father, Galatians 4:6, when it makes us to cry so, Romans 8:15.

Thou hast not withheld thy son from me, for my service and sacrifice; or for me, i.e. for my sake; i.e. thou hast preferred mine authority and honour before the life of thy dear son. By which words it appears that God himself speaks these words. And he said, lay not thine hand upon the lad,.... Which he was just going to stretch out, with his knife in it, to slay him; and though the Lord had bid him take his son, and offer him for a burnt offering, to try his faith, fear, love, and obedience, yet he meant not that he should actually slay him, but would prevent it when it came to the crisis; for he approves not of, nor delights in human sacrifices; and that this might not be dawn into an example, it was prevented; though the Gentiles, under the influence of Satan, in imitation of this, have practised it:

neither do thou anything unto him; by lacerating his flesh, letting out any of his blood, or wounding him ever so slightly in any part:

for now I know that thou fearest God; with a truly childlike filial fear; with such a reverence of him that has fervent love, and strong affection, joined with it; with a fear that includes the whole of internal religious worship, awe of the divine Being, submission to his will, faith in him, and love to him, and obedience springing from thence. And this is said, not as though he was ignorant before how things would issue; for he knew from all eternity what Abraham would be, and what he would do, having determined to bestow that grace upon him, and work it in him, which would influence and enable him to act the part he did; he knew full well beforehand what would be the consequence of such a trial of him; but this is said after the manner of men, who know things with certainty when they come to pass, and appear plain and evident: or this may be understood of a knowledge of approbation, that the Lord now knew, and approved of the faith, fear, love, and obedience of Abraham, which were so conspicuous in this affair, see Psalm 1:6; Saadiah Gaon (i) interprets it, "I have made known", that is, to others; God by trying Abraham made it manifest to others, to all the world, to all that should hear of or read this account of things, that he was a man that feared God, loved him, believed in him, and obeyed him, of which this instance is a full and convincing proof:

seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me: but as soon as he had the order to offer him up, prepared for it, took a three days' journey, and all things along with him for the sacrifice; when he came to the place, built an altar, laid the wood in order, bound his son, and laid him on it, took the knife, and was going to put it to his throat; so that the Lord looked upon the thing as if it was really done: it was a plain case that he did not, and would not have withheld his son, but would have freely offered him a sacrifice unto God at his command; and that he loved the Lord more than he did his son, and had a greater regard to the command of God than to the life of his son, and preferred the one to the other. And thus God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, Romans 8:32.

(i) Apud Aben Ezram, in ver. 1.

And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I {f} know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

(f) That is, by your true obedience you have declared your living faith.

12. for now I know] Abraham has stood the test. Actual experience has justified Divine foreknowledge. The Angel of the Lord is here identified with the Almighty. By the words “lay not thine hand, &c.,” Jehovah proclaims to Abraham and to his descendants His abhorrence of the cruelty of child sacrifice.

hast not withheld] The recollection of these words possibly underlies the phrase of St Paul in Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.”Verse 12. - And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him. Abraham's surrender of the son of his affections having been complete, there was no need to push the trial further. The voice from heaven has been accepted as evidence of God's rejection of human sacrifices (Lange, Murphy), only that is not assigned as the reason for Isaac's deliverance. For now I knew - literally, have known; not caused thee to know (Augustine), but caused others to know (Lange); or the words are used anthropomorphically (Calvin) - that thou fearest God, - Elohim; the Divine intention being to characterize the patriarch as a God-fearing man, and not simply as a worshipper of Jehovah (cf. Quarry 'on Genesis,' p. 460) - seeing - literally, and (sc. in proof thereof) - thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. Καὶ οὐκ ἐφείσω τοῦ ὑιοῦ σοῦ ἁγαπητοῦ δε ἐμέ (LXX.). Cf. ὅς γε τοῦ ἰδιοῦ ὑιοῦ οὐκ ἐφείσατο (Romans 8:32), as applied to the sacrifice of Christ. In this verse the angel of Jehovah identifies himself with Elohim. When in sight of the distant mountain, Abraham left the servants behind with the ass, that he might perform the last and hardest part of the journey alone with Isaac, and, as he said to the servants, "worship yonder and then return." The servants were not to see what would take place there; for they could not understand this "worship," and the issue even to him, notwithstanding his saying "we will come again to you," was still involved in the deepest obscurity. This last part of the journey is circumstantially described in Genesis 22:6-8, to show how strong a conflict every step produced in the paternal heart of the patriarch. They go both together, he with the fire and the knife in his hand, and his son with the wood for the sacrifice upon his shoulder. Isaac asks his father, where is the lamb for the burnt-offering; and the father replies, not "Thou wilt be it, my son," but "God (Elohim without the article - God as the all-pervading supreme power) will provide it;" for he will not and cannot yet communicate the divine command to his son. Non vult filium macerare longa cruce et tentatione (Luther).
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