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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 15–19
Verses 15–19

Abraham’s obedience was graciously accepted; but this was not all: here we have it recompensed, abundantly recompensed, before he stirred from the place; probably while the ram he had sacrificed was yet burning God sent him this gracious message, renewed and ratified his covenant with him. All covenants were made by sacrifice, so was this by the typical sacrifices of Isaac and the ram. Very high expressions of God’s favour to Abraham are employed in this confirmation of the covenant with him, expressions exceeding any he had yet been blessed with. Note, Extraordinary services shall be crowned with extraordinary honours and comforts; and favours in 19ac the promise, though not yet performed, ought to be accounted real and valuable recompences. Observe, 1. God is pleased to make mention of Abraham’s obedience as the consideration of the covenant; and he speaks of it with an encomium: Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, Gen. 22:16. He lays a strong emphasis on this, and (Gen. 22:18) praises it as an act of obedience: in it thou hast obeyed my voice, and to obey is better than sacrifice. Not that this was a proportionable consideration, but God graciously put this honour upon that by which Abraham had honoured him. 2. God now confirmed the promise with an oath. It was said and sealed before; but now it is sworn: By myself have I sworn; for he could swear by no greater, Heb. 6:13. Thus he interposed himself by an oath, as the apostle expresses it, Heb. 6:17. He did (to speak with reverence) even pawn his own life and being upon it (As I live,) that by all those immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, he and his might have strong consolation. Note, If we exercise faith, God will encourage it. Improve the promises, and God will ratify them. 3. The particular promise here renewed is that of a numerous offspring: Multiplying, I will multiply thee, Gen. 22:17. Note, Those that are willing to part with any thing for God shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage. Abraham has but one son, and is willing to part with that one, in obedience to God. “Well,” said God, “thou shalt be recompensed with thousands and millions.” What a figure does the seed of Abraham make in history! How numerous, how illustrious, were his known descendants, who, to this day, triumph in this, that they have Abraham to their father! Thus he received a thousand-fold in this life, Matt. 19:29. 4. The promise, doubtless, points at the Messiah, and the grace of the gospel. This is the oath sworn to our father Abraham, which Zacharias refers to, Luke 1:73-75 And so here is a promise, (1.) Of the great blessing of the Spirit: In blessing, I will bless thee, namely, with that best of blessings the gift of the Holy Ghost; the promise of the Spirit was that blessing of Abraham which was to come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, Gal. 3:14. (2.) Of the increase of the church, that believers, his spiritual seed, should be numerous as the stars of heaven. (3.) Of spiritual victories: Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. Believers, by their faith, overcome the world, and triumph over all the powers of darkness, and are more than conquerors. Probably Zacharias refers to this part of the oath (Luke 1:74), That we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear. But the crown of all is the last promise. (4.) Of the incarnation of Christ: In thy seed, one particular person that shall descend from thee (for he speaks not of many, but of one, as the apostle observes, Gal. 3:16), shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, or shall bless themselves, as the phrase is, Isa. 65:16. In him all may be happy if they will, and all that belong to him shall be so, and shall think themselves so. Christ is the great blessing of the world. Abraham was ready to give up his son for a sacrifice to the honour of God, and, on that occasion, God promised to give his Son a sacrifice for the salvation of man.