Good evening and welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Genesis. Tonight is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 22. We will be reading Genesis 22:1-2:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
We have just finished reading and studying about how the Lord gave Abraham a son after so many years of sojourning in the land of Canaan. They were getting older and older and, finally, when Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100, God fulfilled His promise to them, historically. He gave them a son Isaac. Isaac was born, and we looked at his weaning and the division with Ishmael and Hagar, and so forth.
So, after finally bringing this promise to pass, I am sure Abraham was very thankful that he had a son of his old age. God was faithful, and Abraham had watched Isaac grow for many years. We do not know exactly how old Isaac was when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice him, but we know that he was able to reason quite well. When Abraham was carrying the wood for the burnt offering, Isaac asked his father, “Where is the sacrificial animal?” That indicates he was several years older now; he was no longer a toddler. We know he had already been weaned at about age two or three. At this point, he could be 10 or 13. He could be a young man. We are not told. It is not important, if God does not tell us. We can speculate a little bit, but we are not to go in that direction of trying to determine his age if God has not given us enough information.
I am sure Abraham thanked God for this son, but now God came to Abraham to try him or test him, as it says in Genesis 22:1:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…
God tempted Abraham. Sometimes we ask, “Lord, is it not enough, with all the temptations, trials and tribulations we have already experienced? Is it not sufficient?” And Abraham could certainly have asked that. He was well over 100, and he had demonstrated and displayed his faithfulness to God, showing that he did trust God. He came out of the land of the Chaldees, not knowing where he went. He went into the land of Canaan and sojourned, living in tents, and so forth. He had already done many things that would indicate he was a child of God and one of the true elect, so should the Lord not have been satisfied? No – God constantly tests man, especially those that have some relationship with Him and identify themselves as His sons and daughters.
He has been constantly testing mankind since the beginning of the world when God created the Garden of Eden in this perfect creation. Everything was like the Garden of Eden, so why create this special garden? Was it more pure, holy or more special than the rest of the earth? No – it would have been equally good and pure and holy. But God created the Garden of Eden to establish an outward representation of His kingdom, and one of the first things He did in that garden was to select a tree, calling it “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Then He attached a commandment, saying, “Thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” What was the purpose of that? It was a testing program to see if man would obey God and be faithful to Him, or would man fail the test and disobey God? Then Satan entered into the picture and added to the temptation, and Adam and Eve failed the test. God reckoned Adam because he was the man and the head of the house, and God indicates that Adam failed the test and, therefore, all mankind in Adam failed the test.
And, yet, it did not stop there; God’s testing did not end there. He has tested mankind repeatedly throughout the history of the world. There is a very important statement the Lord made in 1Corinthians 10. Of course, the entire Bible is full of important things, but this is a very helpful statement that applies to our lives as we live in this world. It says in 1Corinthians 10:11:
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples…
God was speaking about Israel’s time in the wilderness and their failure to remain faithful during that 40 years. The number “40” points to testing, so God was testing Israel throughout their wilderness sojourn. Again, it says in 1Corinthians 10:11-14:
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
God speaks of temptation as being common to man. It is typical and normal for there to be temptation as we go through our lives, especially if we have a relationship to God and His Word. God speaks of temptation in Luke 8, after telling us about the mysteries of the kingdom of God, which He ties to parables, and then He says in Luke 8:11-13:
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
You know, this is common to man. This is common to each one of us. We have been tempted. We have received the Word of God and believed it. And many have done so throughout the history of the world. Especially at the time of the end, many received and believed the Word of God, but in time of temptation they fell away. Lord willing, we will be spending some time on this, because this word “tempt” used in Genesis 22:1 leads us into this topic. And we are going to look at how God “tempts,” and how He will not and will not tempt, and how there is a “time of temptation” that the Bible discusses. We are going to take some time to look at this because it has a lot to do with our present time, the Day of Judgment.
But before we get into that, let us back up and, again, read Genesis 22:1:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…
Now let us go the Epistle of James, chapter 1. We will read James 1:13-15:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
When we compare these verses, it looks like we have a problem. There appears to be an obvious contradiction, but whenever we encounter a (seeming) contradiction in the Bible, the problem is always with us, the reader, because we are not understanding it correctly. The Bible does not have actual contradictions. Does the Bible have apparent or seeming contradictions? Yes – they are all over the Bible. And God intentionally wrote the Bible in that way. He wrote it as a trap, a snare and a test for the reader of the Scriptures. Will they trust the Word of God and consider it truly holy, perfect and pure? Or, will they think there is error that has crept in and it is not really the Word of God that came forth from a perfect and holy God? Therefore, God will give a slightly different account, like He did in 2Chronicles with the account of David’s numbering of the people, using different numbers. Some people will refer to scribal errors and conclude that we cannot trust the Bible. Or, God may speak of the reign of a king, and in one chapter He said a king reigned 11 years and in the next chapter He said that same king reigned 12 years. So, again, some people think, “You definitely cannot trust the Bible; look how careless and sloppy it is.” And, yes, that would be careless and sloppy, if it was error. But we must remember that the scribes very meticulously wrote God’s Word, the Bible, and it was copied by other scribes down through the centuries; they would have notice that in one chapter 11 years was given and in the next chapter 12 years was given, but they left it alone because it was the Word of God. God protected His Word and there cannot be any error in the Bible in the original languages. This is not just a theological statement, but it is what the Bible teaches. For example, go to Psalm 12:6:
The words of JEHOVAH are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
The number “seven” in the Bible points to perfection. It is the perfect, pure Bible, which is rightly called “holy.” When we look at the cover of our Bibles, it says, “Holy Bible,” and that is an accurate description, as it goes on to say of the pure Word of God in Psalm 12:7:
Thou shalt keep them, O JEHOVAH, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
The Word of JEHOVAH endureth forever. In this verse, God, who cannot lie and whose Word is true and faithful, tells us that He will keep His Word and preserve it, and maintain its perfection. So, whenever you hear someone say that a scribal error crept into the text, disregard them – they are in error. They are wrong. And if they are theologians, they are bad theologians that do not know what they are talking about. They are contradicting the Word of God itself because God declares here that He has protected His Word. We are not to worry about those claims that the Catholic Church has done harm to the Bible by adding or taking away books of the Bible. None of that is true. We have the complete, pure Word of God. God Himself has watched over it from the very beginning to the Bible’s completion in the 1st century A. D. Then He continued to watch over it during the many centuries of the New Testament era and into our present time.
Do men continually seek to add or take away from the Word? Yes – they do, but we still have it, do we not? We still have King James Bibles that are faithful to the original text, despite the fact that there have been countless attacks from publishers and individuals. The entire corporate church world misuses, abuses and seeks to altar the Word of God, but we still have it in our possession because God has kept His Word. And He will keep it to the end of time and into eternity future when time ends.
So, we know the Bible is perfect and error-free. There are no mistakes. Everything in the Bible is pure and right and good. If it were not, that would be impurity and, therefore, sin. That means that everything also must harmonize in the Bible because truth cannot be contrary to itself. You cannot have two truths. There is one way, and that is the way, the truth and the life. There are not two ways and two truths. There are not contradictory things that are both factual and true and trustworthy. That is what the world thinks: “Oh, yes, you can have the religion of Islam. You can have the Buddhist religion, or you can have the Christian religion.” They are not careful of the truth or lovers of the truth – they love a lie, so it is unimportant to them. But the people of God love His holy Word because it is holy. We desire the truth, so when seeming contradictions appear in the Bible, our ears perk up because we want to harmonize the Bible. The process of harmonization is Biblical, as we are to compare spiritual with spiritual and Scripture with Scripture, coming to an understanding or doctrine that fits together like pieces of a puzzle. It must all fall into place in a perfect way, without contradiction.
So, when we see that God tempted Abraham, but then we read in James that God does not tempt any man, we want to solve this apparent contradiction. On our own, we cannot do so, but by God’s grace we can. The answer in this case has to do with different aspects of what is in view by the uses of the word “tempt” or “temptation.” In the book of James, it has to do with sin, as it says in James 1:13-14:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
God does not use sin to tempt man. In Genesis 22, it does not say that God tempted Abraham when Abraham looked out his tent and there was a woman who was scantily clad. That is not how God tempts. That kind of temptation is natural to man in this world, but God does not involve Himself with that kind of thing. God’s tempting of man has to do with His Word and whether we will trust and obey His Word, so He sets up tempting programs to discover whether a person trusts and obeys His Word. Or, will they fail the test as Adam did in the Garden of Eden? Adam failed the test when tempted with that tree. He failed when He disobeyed God, and he sinned.
So, here, God tempted Abraham to take his promised son and offer him for a burnt offering. It was not related to lust or sinful desires – this was something completely different. Therefore, we can harmonize the verses in James chapter 1 with what God did in Genesis 22 in tempting Abraham.
Lord willing, when we get together in our next Bible study, we will continue to look at what the Bible says about “temptation.” It is very interesting, and it does relate very well to our present time.