Challenging Passages

Genesis (Chapter 12 – 25) – Be Obedient
Challenging Passages

There are 3 examples of challenging passages:

•Who was Melchizedek? Gen 14: 18 – 20,
•Why did God test Abraham? Gen 22:1,
•Sacrifice your Son? Gen 22: 2.

1st Challenge: Who was Melchizedek?

According to Gen 14:18 – 20

Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
And he blessed Abram and said:
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High;
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And he gave him a tithe of all.

There are 4 pointers:

  • Point 1
    • Melchizedek is a mysterious king of Salem (which is the shortened name of Jerusalem) which at that time was occupied by Canaanites.
    • Hence, he was a Canaanite but he is called a “priest of God Most High”.Our Lord Jesus Christ comes from the line of Melchizedek and not from Abram.
    • Melchizedek means “My king is Righteous” and was a contemporary of Abram who worshiped the living God.
    • The greater surprise is that he appears from nowhere, without mention of parents or background, without any introduction of ties to the Lord.
    • This mysterious quality of Melchizedek allows the writer of Hebrews to compare him to another priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • According to Heb 7: 3 – Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
  • Point 2
    • The Genesis account states that Melchizedek blessed Abram after Abram defeated the coalition of kings who had captured his nephew Lot.
  • Point 3
    • Yet Melchizedek acknowledges that what has been accomplished could only be attributed to God Most High.
    • This is a most unexpected turn of events, for a Canaanite king not only one who shares the belief and worship in the same God as Abram but one he pronounces the blessing on the patriarch whom God had already blessed.
  • Point 4
    • One more point needs to be made was Abram gave a tenth to his priest-king and not the other way round.
    • The tithe was the spoils Abram had taken in battle. This was Abram response to Melchizedek’s offer of bread and wine and the blessing which Melchizedek had offered a blessing which normally comes from the greater person to the lesser.
    • Abram’s gift indicated that he considered Melchizedek a true priest of the living God; in giving this gift Abram was giving to the Lord

2nd Challenge: Why did God test Abraham?

According to Gen 22:1

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am”.

The old English word for test was prove. However, the context of this passage does not have the sense of exciting to sin or provoking someone to commit an evil.

  • Let’s remember James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

How could a holy God put his servant through such an ordeal as this ?

  • Hence. the test was not a temptation to do evil or a test that was meant to trap the hapless patriarch.
  • Instead it was to strengthen Abraham and to build him up, as did the numerous tests in the desert.
  • It is God’s testing the partner of the covenant to see if he is keeping his side of the agreement.
  • God never tests the heathen; he tests his own people exclusively.

Thus, God wanted to test Abraham to know his heart and to see if he would obey and fear the Lord who gave him the son he loved so dearly.

Testing, finally is one of the means by which God carries out his saving purpose

  • Often people do not know why they were tested until after the test is over.
  • Only after they have been preserved, proved, purified, disciplined and taught can they move beyond the situation, strong in faith and strengthened for more difficult tasks ahead.

3rd Challenge: Sacrifice Your Son ?

According to Gen 22: 2

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Does God really demand or approve of human sacrifice ?

  • Please note that God did not command Abraham to commit murder.
  • This incident is not to be misunderstood with the practices of king Ahaz. (2 Kings 16:3)

According 2 Kings 16:3

“But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his sons pass through fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel.”

It was a severe test of Abraham’s faith.

But Abraham believed that God. through the sacrifice of Isaac seemed to go against God’s promise of an heir, Abraham believed that God would still fulfill His Word, even if it required Him to raise Isaac from the dead.

The command to sacrifice was a harsh lesson illustrating all life comes from and belongs to God.

  • In essence, life is merely on loan to us, both as parents and children.
  • God can ask for its return at any time. So in that respect the request to slay Isaac was similar to the difficult period that Abram and Sarai endured as they waited for the birth of this very son.

God prohibit human sacrifice (Lev 18:21)

Let there be no mistake, God abhors human sacrifice.

According to Lev 18: 21

“And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.”

God restrained Abraham’s hand Gen 22: 12

The proof of this is that God restrained Abraham’s hand just as he was about to take his son’s life.

According to Gen 22:12

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Instead God provided an alternative in Isaac’s place. It proved to Abraham that his faith was well-placed and God is the God of mercy.