“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
As we saw earlier in Hebrews chapter six, this portion of Scripture refers to a historic event that took place in the life of Abraham, the famous Biblical patriarch. That event involved a son who had been born to Abraham according to God’s promise (see Genesis 15:1-6). That son’s name was Isaac, and he represented the fulfillment of God’s commitment to provide Abraham with a biological heir.
However, there came a time when Isaac was involved in a significant test of Abraham’s faith…
“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you’
…When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son'” (Genesis 22:2, 9-12 NIV).
This overview forms the basis for our passage from Hebrews 11:17-19 and God’s response to Abraham’s act of faith…
“‘…By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice'” (Genesis 22:16-18).
Thus, we have God’s encouraging message through the prophet Isaiah for those of every generation…
“If you want to do right and obey the Lord, follow Abraham’s example. He was the rock from which you were chipped. God chose Abraham and Sarah to be your ancestors. The Lord blessed Abraham, and from that one man came many descendants” (Isaiah 51:1-2 CEV).