Abram / Abraham:
The next section in Genesis begins with the calling of Abram (Abraham). “Whereas Yahweh had scattered humankind in all directions, now Yahweh calls someone to follow a particular path away from Babylon, the place of dispersion, to the land of Canaan.” There, God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham to become a great nation.
Abram meets a mysterious figure called Melchizedek, who is both priest and king, and who offers up “bread and wine.” (Gen. 14:18) He is referred to as the “king of Salem,” probably the precursor to Jerusalem. His title is the king of peace. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews refers to Melchizedek as a form, or prefigurement, of Jesus Christ. He is both priest and king, who offers bread and wine to God, and have their priesthood directly from God, and not from ancestors of Aaron or Levi. Hebrews declares Jesus is a “priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 7:17) This itself a quote from the Psalms, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:4) Jesus, who is priest and king, offers his body and blood up under the species of bread and wine at the Last Supper.
Yahweh makes two promises to Abraham. “He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,’ he added, ‘shall your descendants be.’ Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.” (Gen. 15:5-6) The Lord then requests Abram to bring him a three years old heifer, a three years old she-goat, a three years old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. He splits them in two and placed each half opposite the other. Abram then falls into a deep slumber (recalling the deep sleep God put on Adam when he made Eve from one of his ribs). Yahweh speaks to him in his sleep about the future history of Israel, and their future slavery and exodus from Egypt. Then, “there appeared a smoking brazier and a flaming torch, which passed between the pieces. It was on that occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I give this land. . .” (Gen. 15:17-18) The sign of the Abrahamic covenant is circumcision, just as the sign of the covenant with Noah is the rainbow. Every male shall be circumcised at eight days old, “Thus my covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting pact.” (Gen. 17:13) Yahweh then tells Abram that he and his wife Sarah, although “ninety years old,” will bear a son and shall name him Isaac.
The Three Visitors:
The next interaction I believe hints at the Trinity. It reads: “The Lord appeared to Abraham . . . Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby.” (Gen. 18:1) The three visitors seem to speak together as “they.” When Abraham offered to make them some food, they respond “‘Very well,” they replied, ‘do as you have said.'” He bakes them “three seahs of fine flour” to make them bread, associating the bread with the Lord in Eucharistic overtones. Later in the passage, however, the Lord is distinguished as one of the people, while the other two are referred to as angelic messengers.
Sodom and Gommorah:
From there, they all walk towards the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord said “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.” (Gen. 18: 20-21) The two angelic beings keep walking toward the towns, but the Lord remained standing with Abraham telling him his intent to destroy the cities. Abraham then begins to intercede for the towns, “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?” (Gen. 18:23) Abraham pleads with him that there were “fifty innocent people” there, would you still destroy them? The Lord vows to spare them if he finds fifty people there, then Abraham continues to intercede for them. How about 45 people? 40? 30? 20? 10? The Lord responds, “For the sake of those ten,” he replied, “I will not destroy it.” (Gen. 18:32)
Lot, and Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed:
The two angelic messengers go to Sodom where they find Lot, who is Abraham’s nephew. Lot offers to bring them into his house and “bake cakes without leaven” (Gen. 19:3) for them, again, with overtones of a Eucharistic meal. Later, however, “all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old – all the people to the last man – closed in on the house. They called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intimacies with them.'” (Gen. 19:4-5) Lot protested against the “wicked thing” (i.e., sodomy) they were trying to do, and even offered up his two daughters to appease the mob, but they would have nothing of it.
At this point the two angelic beings intervene as “they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway.” (Gen. 19:11) The angels told Lot and his family to flee the city in the morning because the Lord was about to destroy it. As the sun was rising “the Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven. He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.” (Gen. 19: 24-26) The next morning Abraham went to look at the plain and saw “dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.”
Jesus referred to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah saying of those that reject the gospel, “Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Mt. 10:15) Saint Peter also refers to the immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah and their subsequent destruction. He says “and if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction, reducing them to ashes, making them an example for the godless people of what is coming.” (2 Pt. 2:6) Jude makes a similar statement saying that Sodom and Gomorrah were punished for their fornication and “indulged in unnatural lust,” or “went after other flesh.” (Jude 7) Clearly, one of the aspects of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah that cries out to heaven is the homosexual act. Modern apologists for homosexuality cite that the sins of the cities of the Plain were “rape” or even “inhospitality,” but this deflects from the truth. The Bible holds these two cities as the most extreme examples of inhospitality specifically because they sought to commit homosexual rape, and even the rape of angelic beings. The unnaturalness of these acts adds to their particular depravity.
The Birth of Isaac:
Yahweh fulfills his word towards Abraham and Sarah with the birth of Isaac. Abraham is 100 years old. Sarah remarks “God has given me cause to laugh.” (Gen. 21:6) Sarah, upset by the presence of the slave-girl Hagar and her son, Ishmael, who she bore to Abraham, forces them from their presence, saying “No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!” (Gen. 21: 10) Many point to this initial division between Isaac and Ishmael for the current and ongoing disputes millennia later between their descendants, the Jews and Arabs respectively.
The Testing of Abraham:
God tests Abraham by telling him to “Take you son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.” (Gen. 22:2) Abraham takes Isaac to the site, whereupon he “took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” (Gen. 22:6) then he, “built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.” (Gen. 22:9-10) At this point, an angel from heaven stops Abraham from going through with it, but Abraham has proved his faithfulness to God. God says to him, “Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” (Gen. 22: 12)
Isaac and Jesus:
The parallels between Isaac and Jesus are striking. The location where Abraham was to sacrifice his son was at Mount Moriah, the site in Jerusalem of the Temple. The pagans of the day had offered child sacrifices there to the fire god Molech. God shows in this episode that he is vehemently opposed to child sacrifice and this evil practice is to no longer be practiced. Child sacrifices to Molech have reemerged in our latter days in the present evils of abortion. Isaac prefigured Jesus. Isaac was to be sacrificed in the same location where Jesus offered up himself in the sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus is the only Son of God, with whom he loves. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17) Jesus walks the way of the Cross, also with beams of wood on his shoulders. He goes up Mount Moriah to Golgotha, where he would be fixed to the wooden beams of the Cross as a sacrifice – for all. As John wrote later in the gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16) God the Father, out of love for us, sacrifices his only begotten son – the very act with which he tested Abraham.