Unofficial Notes from
International Conferences for Clergy Questions And Answers
ICC - Questions And Answers - Abraham's Family
QUESTION: 1. How is it that Isaac could have more faith than Abraham, when at the time he was not aware that he was going to be slain? How was he displaying more faith than Abraham?
ANSWER: He did not resist, he trusted his father to the very end even to the point of death. Hebrews 11:19 likens it to a figurative resurrection. I'm sure, when Isaac saw the knife waving over his head, he sensed something was about to happen to his mortal life.
QUESTION: 2. Had not God promised Abraham that Isaac would be the one to whom His covenant would be carried through? If so, then Isaac did not have to do anything to obtain the promise.
ANSWER: Abraham was supposed to establish the Foundation of Faith by a successful offering of the heifer, ram, goat and dove and pigeon. He did not accomplish this. Therefore, Isaac was raised up to fulfill Abraham's role. Of course, God's original will was for Abraham to fulfill his role and for Isaac to inherit the promise as you mentioned, but Abraham's failure made a new dispensation, centering on Isaac, necessary. For this reason, Abraham had to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah and then after that was accomplished Isaac and Abraham offered a ram that had been stuck in the thicket. Through this, the Foundation of Faith was accomplished, but centering on Isaac, not Abraham. That is also why the Foundation of Substance was accomplished by the two sons of Isaac (Jacob and Esau). Inheritance of the covenant is not automatic. Isaac must keep faith, likewise in the case of Solomon's inheritance from David (see 1Kings 9:4-7).
QUESTION: 3. Where in the Bible do you find God telling Abraham to leave the promised land and take Sarah and go to Egypt? Gen. 12:10-20 says that they went to Egypt but it does not say that God sent them.
ANSWER: God established the pattern for restoration. Abraham carries it out twice and Isaac, the third time. You are correct that the scripture does not say explicitly that it was God who called Abraham to Egypt, but it is clear that it was God who called Isaac in the same pattern as Abraham in Gen. 26:2. That this would happen three times could hardly be considered a coincidence of no spiritual significance. God does not place such things in His Holy Word.
QUESTION: 4. Where does it say that God called Abram to go to the country of Abimilech?
ANSWER: That this event happens three times, twice with Abraham and once with Isaac could hardly be considered a coincidence of no spiritual significance. You are correct when you say that there is no scripture which states that it was God who called Abraham to go to Abimelech, but indeed that call is recorded in the third attempt with Isaac. God used the device of famine to get Isaac to Gerar and told him to remain there. God also used the same device with Abraham in the first attempt with the Pharaoh. In every case the Lord is highly in setting up the conditions that would serve as the sanctification for Abraham and then Isaac's family.
QUESTION: 5. You say God won't interfere with the role of man. But who gave King Abimelech the dream that revealed to him that Sarah was not Abraham's sister, but wife?
ANSWER: I never said that God does not intervene into anything that man does. I said that God does not intervene in man's responsibility. God revealed to Abimelech that Sarah was the wife of Abraham, but it was Abimelech's responsibility to choose what to do about that. He could have ignored God's word, as did Lucifer, or he could do what was the right thing to so.
QUESTION: 6. There is no mention in scripture that Abraham failed in the way he offered the dove and pigeon. Gen. 15:9 says that God asked that offering animals be brought before Him, it does not say that God asked that Abraham cut them in half. The tenth verse only mentions that he did not cut the birds in half. It does not say that this was a mistake in any way. Comment?
ANSWER: It is true that Abraham's failure is not explicitly mentioned, however, we can see strong evidence that this offering was not received and was not pleasing God. First, in Gen. 15:11 we see the birds of prey fall upon the offering which Abraham must chase away, this is not a good sign. Secondly, in the 12th verse, Abraham falls asleep and a "thick and dreadful darkness came over him" out of which God proclaims that Abraham's descendants must go a course of suffering and exile for a period of 400 years, also not a good sign. Thirdly, we see later that Abraham must accomplish an offering much more faith testing (the offering of Isaac) to compensate for his failed offering of the dove and pigeon. The reason not cutting the birds was a mistake and failure is because cutting the offering represented purifying the offering by the shedding of blood. Placing one side on top of the other represented the restored position of Adam over the archangel. Not cutting the birds meant, then, that the offering was not pure, which is why we see the "birds of prey" descend upon the offering. "Birds of prey" represent satan. Also, we can see that God never announced an exile course for Abraham's descendant's unless there had been a condition of disobedience on their part, see Deut. 28.
QUESTION: 7. Why would Abram and Sarai have to change relationship from husband and wife to brother and sister, when they were symbolizing Adam and Eve who were husband and wife?
ANSWER: Adam and Eve were still in the providential position as brother and sister, and could only become God centered husband and wife when they fulfilled the prerequisite to their "multiplication" that is to be fruitful. Because Adam and Eve fell from the providential position of brother and sister, Abram and Sarai had to start from that same position.
QUESTION: 8. Did God intervene during the times Sarah and Abraham were in the hands of the Pharaoh and the King of the Philistines (Abimelech)? If not, what caused the Pharaoh and the King to recognize the fact that Sarah was the wife of Abraham instead of his sister?
ANSWER: God revealed it each time in a different way. With the Pharaoh a sudden outbreak of disease riddled the kingdom and through that the Pharaoh realized the marital status of Sarah. The second time, Abimelech had received a dream and the third time, Abimelech saw Isaac embracing Rebekah and realized that Rebekah also was the wife and not the sister of, in this case, Isaac. God does not intervene into man's responsibility. God imparting His word to the Pharaoh and the King is not an intervention into their area of responsibility. It is up to them to do what is right. Lucifer also knew that Eve was not supposed to be tempted by him but he went ahead and violated the commandment of God anyway. The response of the Pharaoh and Abimelech represents a reversal (and therefore, an indemnification) of the course the angel Lucifer took.
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