Genesis 22:18
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
22:15-19 There are high declarations of God's favour to Abraham in this confirmation of the covenant with him, exceeding any he had yet been blessed with. Those that are willing to part with any thing for God, shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage. The promise, ver. 18, doubtless points at the Messiah, and the grace of the gospel. Hereby we know the loving-kindness of God our Saviour towards sinful man, in that he hath not withheld his Son, his only Son, from us. Hereby we perceive the love of Christ, in that he gave himself a sacrifice for our sins. Yet he lives, and calls to sinners to come to him, and partake of his blood-bought salvation. He calls to his redeemed people to rejoice in him, and to glorify him. What then shall we render for all his benefits? Let his love constrain us to live not to ourselves, but to Him who died for us, and rose again. Admiring and adoring His grace, let us devote our all to his service, who laid down his life for our salvation. Whatever is dearest to us upon earth is our Isaac. And the only way for us to find comfort in an earthly thing, is to give it by faith into the hands of God. Yet remember that Abraham was not justified by his readiness to obey, but by the infinitely more noble obedience of Jesus Christ; his faith receiving this, relying on this, rejoicing in this, disposed and made him able for such wonderful self-denial and duty.Abraham has arrived at the moral elevation of self-denial and resignation to the will of God, and that in its highest form. The angel of the Lord now confirms all his special promises to him with an oath, in their amplest terms. An oath with God is a solemn pledging of himself in all the unchangeableness of his faithfulness and truth, to the fulfillment of his promise. The multitude of his seed has a double parallel in the stars of heaven and the sands of the ocean. They are to possess the gate of their enemies; that is, to be masters and rulers of their cities and territories. The great promise, "and blessed in thy seed shall be all the nations of the earth," was first given absolutely without reference to his character. Now it is confirmed to him as the man of proof, who is not only accepted as righteous, but proved to be actually righteous after the inward man; "because thou hast obeyed my voice" Genesis 26:5. The reflexive form of the verb signifying to bless is here employed, not to denote emphasis, but to intimate that the nations, in being blessed of God, are made willing to be so, and therefore bless themselves in Abraham's seed. In hearing this transcendent blessing repeated on this momentous occasion, Abraham truly saw the day of the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Son of man. We contemplate him now with wonder as the man of God, manifested by the self-denying obedience of a regenerate nature, intrusted with the dignity of the patriarchate over a holy seed, and competent to the worthy discharge of all its spiritual functions.

With the nineteenth verse of this chapter may be said to close the main revelation of the third Bible given to mankind, to which the remainder of this book is only a needful appendix. It includes the two former Bibles or revelations - that of Adam and that of Noah; and it adds the special revelation of Abraham. The two former applied directly to the whole race; the latter directly to Abraham and his seed as the medium of an ultimate blessing to the whole race. The former revealed the mercy of God offered to all, which was the truth immediately necessary to be known; the latter reveals more definitely the seed through whom the blessings of mercy are to be conveyed to all, and delineates the leading stage in the spiritual life of a man of God. In the person of Abraham is unfolded that spiritual process by which the soul is drawn to God. He hears the call of God and comes to the decisive act of trusting in the revealed God of mercy and truth; on the ground of which act he is accounted as righteous. He then rises to the successive acts of walking with God, covenanting with him, communing and interceding with him, and at length withholding nothing that he has or holds dear from him. In all this we discern certain primary and essential characteristics of the man who is saved through acceptance of the mercy of God proclaimed to him in a primeval gospel. Faith in God Genesis 15, repentance toward him Genesis 16, and fellowship with him Genesis 18, are the three great turning-points of the soul's returning life. They are built upon the effectual call of God Genesis 12, and culminate in unreserved resignation to him Genesis 22. With wonderful facility has the sacred record descended in this pattern of spiritual biography from the rational and accountable race to the individual and immortal soul, and traced the footsteps of its path to God.

The seed that was threatened to bruise the serpent's head is here the seed that is promised to bless all the families of the earth. The threefold individuality in the essence of the one eternal Spirit, is adumbrated in the three men who visited the patriarch, and their personal and practical interest in the salvation of man is manifested, though the part appropriated to each in the work of grace be not yet apparent.

Meanwhile, contemporaneous with Abraham are to be seen men (Melkizedec, Abimelek) who live under the covenant of Noah, which was not abrogated by that of Abraham, but only helped forward by the specialities of the latter over the legal and moral difficulties in the way to its final and full accomplishment. That covenant, which was simply the expansion and continuation of the Adamic covenant, is still in force, and contains within its bosom the Abrahamic covenant in its culminating grandeur, as the soul that gives life and motion to its otherwise inanimate body.

13-19. Abraham lifted up his eyes … and behold … a ram, &c.—No method was more admirably calculated to give the patriarch a distinct idea of the purpose of grace than this scenic representation: and hence our Lord's allusion to it (Joh 8:56). No text from Poole on this verse.

And in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed,.... That is, in his one and principal seed, the Messiah, that should spring from him, Galatians 3:16, in whom all the elect of God, of all nations under the heavens, are blessed with all spiritual blessings, with peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life, with grace here and glory hereafter; See Gill on Genesis 12:3; or, "shall bless themselves" (o) in him; or, "account themselves blessed"; apply to him for blessings, claim their interest in them, and glory in them, and make their boast of them:

because thou hast obeyed my voice; in taking his son and offering him up unto him, as much as he was permitted to do; and thus honouring God by his obedience to him, he of his grace and goodness honours him with the promise of being the father of multitudes, both in a literal and spiritual sense, and with being the ancestor of the Messiah, in whom all the blessings of grace and goodness meet.

(o) "benedicent se", Munster; to the same purpose Vatablus, Tigurine version, Piscator.

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. in thy seed] See note on Genesis 12:3. The words might be also rendered “by thy seed.”

be blessed] Better, as R.V. marg., bless themselves. See notes on Genesis 12:3, Genesis 18:18, Genesis 26:4.

because thou hast obeyed] Lit. “because thou hast heard,” or “listened to.” God’s word may be a sound which is not heard; or it may be a sound which is heard, but not listened to; or it may be a sound which is heard, listened to, and obeyed.

Genesis 22:18After Abraham had offered the ram, the angel of the Lord called to him a second time from heaven, and with a solemn oath renewed the former promises, as a reward for this proof of his obedience of faith (cf. Genesis 12:2-3). To confirm their unchangeableness, Jehovah swore by Himself (cf. Hebrews 6:13.), a thing which never occurs again in His intercourse with the patriarchs; so that subsequently not only do we find repeated references to this oath (Genesis 24:7; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 50:24; Exodus 13:5, Exodus 13:11; Exodus 33:1, etc.), but, as Luther observes, all that is said in Psalm 89:36; Psalm 132:11; Psalm 110:4 respecting the oath given to David, is founded upon this. Sicut enim promissio seminis Abrahae derivata est in semen Davidis, ita Scriptura S. jusjurandum Abrahae datum in personam Davidis transfert. For in the promise upon which these psalms are based nothing is said about an oath (cf. 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17:1). The declaration on oath is still further confirmed by the addition of יהוה נאם "edict (Ausspruch) of Jehovah," which, frequently as it occurs in the prophets, is met with in the Pentateuch only in Numbers 14:28, and (without Jehovah) in the oracles of Balaam, Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15-16. As the promise was intensified in form, so was it also in substance. To express the innumerable multiplication of the seed in the strongest possible way, a comparison with the sand of the sea-shore is added to the previous simile of the stars. And this seed is also promised the possession of the gate of its enemies, i.e., the conquest of the enemy and the capture of his cities (cf. Genesis 24:60).

This glorious result of the test so victoriously stood by Abraham, not only sustains the historical character of the event itself, but shows in the clearest manner that the trial was necessary to the patriarch's life of faith, and of fundamental importance to his position in relation to the history of salvation. The question, whether the true God could demand a human sacrifice, was settled by the fact that God Himself prevented the completion of the sacrifice; and the difficulty, that at any rate God contradicted Himself, if He first of all demanded a sacrifice and then prevented it from being offered, is met by the significant interchange of the names of God, since God, who commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac, is called Ha-Elohim, whilst the actual completion of the sacrifice is prevented by "the angel of Jehovah," who is identical with Jehovah Himself. The sacrifice of the heir, who had been both promised and bestowed, was demanded neither by Jehovah, the God of salvation or covenant God, who had given Abraham this only son as the heir of the promise, nor by Elohim, God as creator, who has the power to give life and take it away, but by He-Elohim, the true God, whom Abraham had acknowledged and adored as his personal God, and with whom he had entered into a personal relation. Coming from the true God whom Abraham served, the demand could have no other object than to purify and sanctify the feelings of the patriarch's heart towards his son and towards his God, in accordance with the great purpose of his call. It was designed to purify his love to the son of his body from all the dross of carnal self-love and natural selfishness which might still adhere to it, and so to transform it into love to God, from whom he had received him, that he should no longer love the beloved son as his flesh and blood, but simply and solely as a gift of grace, as belonging to his God-a trust committed to him, which he should be ready at any moment to give back to God. As he had left his country, kindred, and father's house at the call of God (Genesis 12:1), so was he in his walk with God cheerfully to offer up even his only son, the object of all his longing, the hope of his life, the joy of his old age. And still more than this, not only did he possess and love in Isaac the heir of his possessions (Genesis 15:2), but it was upon him that all the promises of God rested: in Isaac should his seed be called (Genesis 21:12). By the demand that he should sacrifice to God this only son of his wife Sarah, in whom his seed was to grow into a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:4, Genesis 17:6, Genesis 17:16), the divine promise itself seemed to be cancelled, and the fulfilment not only of the desires of his heart, but also of the repeated promises of his God, to be frustrated. And by this demand his faith was to be perfected into unconditional trust in God, into the firm assurance that God could even raise him up from the dead. - But this trial was not only one of significance to Abraham, by perfecting him, through the conquest of flesh and blood, to be the father of the faithful, the progenitor of the Church of God; Isaac also was to be prepared and sanctified by it for his vocation in connection with the history of salvation. In permitting himself to be bound and laid upon the altar without resistance, he gave up his natural life to death, to rise to a new life through the grace of God. On the altar he was sanctified to God, dedicated as the first beginning of the holy Church of God, and thus "the dedication of the first-born, which was afterwards enjoined in the law, was perfectly fulfilled in him." If therefore the divine command exhibits in the most impressive way the earnestness of the demand of God upon His people to sacrifice all to Him, not excepting the dearest of their possessions (cf. Matthew 10:37, and Luke 14:26); the issue of the trial teaches that the true God does not demand a literal human sacrifice from His worshippers, but the spiritual sacrifice of an unconditional denial of the natural life, even to submission to death itself. By the sacrifice of a ram as a burnt-offering in the place of his son, under divine direction, not only was animal sacrifice substituted for human, and sanctioned as an acceptable symbol of spiritual self-sacrifice, but the offering of human sacrifices by the heathen was condemned and rejected as an ungodly ἐθελοθρησεία. And this was done by Jehovah, the God of salvation, who prevented the outward completion of the sacrifice. By this the event acquires prophetic importance for the Church of the Lord, to which the place of sacrifice points with peculiar clearness, viz., Mount Moriah, upon which under the legal economy all the typical sacrifices were offered to Jehovah; upon which also, in the fulness of time, God the Father gave up His only-begotten Son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, that by this one true sacrifice the shadows of the typical sacrifices might be rendered both real and true. If therefore the appointment of Moriah as the scene of the sacrifice of Isaac, and the offering of a ram in his stead, were primarily only typical in relation to the significance and intent of the Old Testament institution of sacrifice; this type already pointed to the antitype to appear in the future, when the eternal love of the heavenly Father would perform what it had demanded of Abraham; that is to say, when God would not spare His only Son, but give Him up to the real death, which Isaac suffered only in spirit, that we also might die with Christ spiritually, and rise with Him to everlasting life (Romans 8:32; Romans 6:5, etc.).

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