Restoration in Abraham’s Family – Part 1
The Providence of Restoration in Abraham’s Family
Due to Ham’s fallen act, the providence of restoration in Noah’s family was not fulfilled. Nevertheless, God had absolutely predestined that the purpose of creation would one day be realized. Therefore, upon the foundation of Noah’s heart of loyalty toward Heaven, God called Abraham and commenced a new chapter in the providence of restoration with his family.
Abraham’s family was to restore the foundation for the Messiah, which Noah’s family had left incomplete, and receive the Messiah upon that foundation. Thus, as Noah before him, Abraham had to restore through indemnity the foundation of faith, and his sons had to restore through indemnity the foundation of substance.
In the providence of restoration in Abraham’s family, the central figure to restore the foundation of faith was Abraham. God chose Abraham to inherit the mission of fulfilling the Will which He had tried to fulfill with Noah. However, Abraham could not inherit this mission unless he first restored through indemnity all the conditions which had been given to Noah to fulfill, but which were lost to Satan due to Ham’s sin.
The first conditions which Noah’s family lost to Satan were the ten generations from Adam to Noah and the forty-day period of judgment. Therefore, Abraham had to restore through indemnity another ten generations. Each of these ten generations was to restore the number forty, which represented the flood judgment. Once the forty-day flood ended in failure, the restoration of each generation had to span its entire length; this could not be accomplished in only forty days. The providence to restore the flood in each of those ten generations had to take a longer period of time: forty years. This is similar to the situation in Moses’ time, when restoration of the failed forty-day spying mission required the people to wander in the wilderness for forty years.43(Num. 14:34)CEV|KJ|NI Therefore, after an indemnity period of ten generations and four hundred years had passed since Noah,44 God chose Abraham to inherit Noah’s mission.
The next set of conditions which Noah’s family lost to Satan was the position of the father of faith and the position of Ham, who was to take up the role of Abel. Therefore, Abraham could not stand in Noah’s position without first restoring through indemnity the roles of the father of faith and of Ham. To assume the role of the father of faith in place of Noah, Abraham had to make a symbolic offering in faith with a loyal heart, just as Noah did when he built the ark. Next, how could Abraham restore the position of Ham? Ham was to have represented Abel, the most beloved of God: both were second sons and chosen to be the central figures of the substantial offering. Since Satan claimed Ham, according to the principle of restoration through indemnity, God needed to claim someone whom Satan loved most. This is the reason God called Abraham, who was the firstborn son of Terah, an idolator.45(Josh. 24:2-3)CEV|KJ|NI
Abraham was to inherit the mission of Noah and thus the mission of Adam. In this capacity, he represented restored Adam. As God had blessed Adam and Noah, God also blessed Abraham:
I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves. –Gen. 12:2-3CEV|KJ|NI
After receiving this blessing, in obedience to God’s command, Abraham left his father’s house in Haran and entered Canaan with his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, and all his belongings and servants.46(Gen. 12:4-5)CEV|KJ|NI In this sense, God set Abraham’s course as the model course for restoring Canaan, which Jacob and Moses would walk in their days. Jacob and Moses would take their family members and all their belongings out of Haran and Egypt, respectively, and bring them back to Canaan while suffering many hardships along the way. Abraham’s course also foreshadowed the course which Jesus would one day walk: to take humanity and all things out of Satan’s world and bring them back to God’s world.47(cf. Moses and Jesus 1.2)
God commanded Abraham to offer a dove and a pigeon, a ram and a goat, and a heifer.48(Gen. 15:9)CEV|KJ|NI These were the objects for the condition which he offered to restore the foundation of faith. But before he could make the symbolic offering, Abraham had to demonstrate right faith, just as Noah before him was accounted righteous prior to building the ark as his symbolic offering. The Bible does not explain clearly how Noah demonstrated his faith. But from the verse, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God,”49(Gen. 6:9)CEV|KJ|NI we can deduce that Noah demonstrated faith before he was deemed worthy to receive God’s commandment to build the ark. In truth, those who walk the providence of restoration must continually strengthen their faith.50(Rom. 1:17)CEV|KJ|NI Let us investigate how Abraham strengthened his faith in preparation for making the symbolic offering.
Since Noah was the second human ancestor, for Abraham to restore the position of Noah, he also had to assume Adam’s position. For this reason, he was required to make a symbolic indemnity condition to restore the position of Adam’s family before he could make the actual symbolic offering.
In this regard, the Bible gives an account of a trip Abraham made to Egypt because of a famine.51(Gen. 12:10-20)CEV|KJ|NI When they entered Egypt, Abraham instructed his wife Sarah to pose as his sister because he was afraid that the Pharaoh might desire her. Abraham feared that the Pharaoh would have him killed if he found out that he was Sarah’s husband. Indeed, at the Pharaoh’s command, Abraham handed Sarah over to him while she posed as his sister. Thereupon, God chastised the Pharaoh, Abraham took back his wife along with his nephew Lot and the abundant wealth which the Pharaoh had given him, and they left Egypt.
Without knowing it, Abraham walked this providential course to make a symbolic indemnity condition to restore the position of Adam’s family. When the Archangel took Eve – capturing under his dominion all of Eve’s descendants and the natural world – Adam and Eve were still brother and sister. For Abraham to make the indemnity condition to restore this, he was deprived of Sarah, who was playing the role of his sister, by the Pharaoh, who represented Satan. He then had to take her back from the Pharaoh as his wife, together with Lot as the representative of all humanity, and wealth symbolizing the natural world. This course which Abraham walked was the model course for Jesus to walk in his day. Once he had fulfilled this indemnity condition, Abraham was deemed ready to make the symbolic offering.
What was the significance of Abraham’s symbolic offering? For Abraham to become the father of faith, he had to restore through indemnity the position of Noah, whom God had intended to raise up as the father of faith, as well as Noah’s family. Furthermore, he had to restore the position of Adam and his family. Abraham was thus required to offer in an acceptable manner objects for the condition to restore all that Cain and Abel were supposed to accomplish through their sacrifices, and all that Noah’s family was trying to accomplish through the dispensation of the ark. Abraham’s symbolic offering consisted of objects with such symbolic meanings.
Abraham offered three types of objects as the condition for his symbolic offering: first, a dove and a pigeon; second, a ram and a goat; and third, a heifer. These three sacrifices symbolized the cosmos, which was completed through the three stages of the growing period. The dove represented the formation stage. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist at the Jordan River, the Spirit of God descended and alighted upon him in the form of a dove.52(Matt. 3:16)CEV|KJ|NI This is because Jesus came to bring completion to the Old Testament Age, which, as the formation stage of the providence, was symbolized by the dove. Moreover, there was a second reason for the vision of the dove alighting on Jesus. Jesus was to restore Abraham’s mistake in offering this dove, which, as we shall see, Satan snatched away.
The ram represented the growth stage. Once Jesus had brought fulfillment to the Old Testament Age, thus restoring everything represented by the dove, he commenced the New Testament Age at the growth stage of the providence, when everything represented by the ram was to be restored. After John the Baptist testified that he had seen the Spirit descend on Jesus as a dove – meaning that Jesus was the one to complete the formation stage of the providence – he testified that Jesus would begin the growth stage mission, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”53(John 1:29)CEV|KJ|NI
The heifer represented the completion stage. It is written that once, when Samson put forth a riddle to the Philistines, they obtained the answer by having Samson’s wife press him to reveal it. Samson said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle,”54(Judg. 14:18)CEV|KJ|NI here metaphorically calling his wife a heifer. Jesus came as the bridegroom to all humanity. All devout believers should become his brides, awaiting the time of his return. After these brides celebrate the marriage of the Lamb with Jesus, their bridegroom, they are to live in the Kingdom of Heaven in oneness with him as his wives (in a metaphorical sense). Therefore, the Completed Testament Age following the Second Advent of Jesus is the age of the heifer, or the age of the wife. The reason why some spiritual mediums have received the revelation that the present era is the age of a cow or heifer is because we are entering the completion stage.
What were the three sacrifices to indemnify? Abraham was to restore by this offering all that God could not restore through the symbolic offerings made by the families of Adam and Noah – offerings that were made properly but then forfeited to Satan due to subsequent failures. Abraham’s offering was also to make a symbolic indemnity condition as restitution for their failures in making the substantial offering. In other words, the purpose of Abraham’s symbolic offering of the three types of objects for the condition was to restore in his generation (horizontally) all the indemnity conditions which had accumulated in the course of the providence (vertically) through the three generations of Adam, Noah and Abraham.
Why did Abraham place the three sacrifices – the dove and pigeon, the ram and goat, and the heifer, symbolizing the formation, growth and completion stages – on one altar? Before the Fall, Adam was responsible to grow through all three stages in his one lifetime. Similarly, Abraham, now in the position of Adam, was supposed to restore, all at once, the long providence which God had conducted through the three providential generations of Adam (formation), Noah (growth) and Abraham (completion). Through one offering, he could restore all the defiled conditions containing the number three. The symbolism of Abraham’s sacrifice reveals God’s Will to fulfill the entire providence of restoration once and for all.
Now let us study how Abraham made the symbolic offering:
He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in two, and laid each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and lo, a dread and great darkness fell upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for four hundred years.” –Gen. 15:9-13CEV|KJ|NI
Because Abraham did not cut the dove and pigeon in two as he should have, birds of prey came down and defiled the sacrifices. As a result of his mistake, the Israelites were destined to enter Egypt and suffer hardships for four hundred years. Why was it a sin not to cut the birds in half? This question can be understood only with the help of the Principle.
Let us first investigate the reason why Abraham was instructed to cut the sacrifices in half. God’s work of salvation aims to restore the sovereignty of goodness by first dividing good from evil and then destroying evil and uplifting the good. This is the reason Adam had to be divided into Cain and Abel before the sacrifice could be made. This is the reason why in Noah’s day, God struck down evil through the flood judgment and winnowed out Noah’s family as the good. God had Abraham cut the sacrifices in two before offering them, with the intention of doing the symbolic work of dividing good from evil, which was left unaccomplished by Adam and Noah.
The sacrifices were to be divided, first, to restore the situation in Adam’s family in which Abel and Cain were divided into a representative of good and a representative of evil. Second, it was to restore the situation of having divided good from evil during the forty days of Noah’s flood. Third, it was to make the symbolic condition to separate a realm of good sovereignty out of the universe ruled by Satan. Fourth, it was to make the condition to sanctify the offering by draining out the blood of death, which had entered fallen humanity when they were bound in blood-ties to Satan.
Why was it a sin not to divide the offering? First, not dividing the offering has the significance of not dividing Abel from Cain. Without being divided, the offering could not be acceptable to God because it did not provide Him with an Abel-type object partner which He could take. Consequently, the mistakes Cain and Abel had made in their sacrifices were not restored. Second, not dividing the offering was tantamount to repeating the failure of the providence in Noah’s time, when good and evil remained undivided despite the flood. Like the failure of Noah’s family, Abraham’s failure to divide the offering also deprived God of His good object partner. Thus, it repeated the mistake which made the dispensation of the flood a failure. Third, not dividing the offering meant there was no symbolic condition to separate a realm of God’s good sovereignty out of the universe under Satan’s dominion. Fourth, because the blood of death was not drained out of it, not dividing the offering meant it could not be a sanctified offering acceptable to God. In other words, when Abraham offered the birds without first dividing them, it meant that he offered what had not been wrested from Satan’s possession. His mistake had the effect of acknowledging Satan’s claim of possession over them.
The dove, symbolizing the formation stage, remained in Satan’s possession. Consequently, Satan also claimed the ram, symbolizing the growth stage, and the heifer, symbolizing the completion stage, both of which were to be fulfilled based upon the formation stage. Since it had the effect of handing over the entire symbolic offering to Satan, not dividing the birds constituted a sin.
Next, let us examine what is meant by the verse that birds of prey descended upon the carcasses. Since the Fall of the first human ancestors, Satan has always been stalking those with whom God worked to fulfill His Will. When Cain and Abel were making their sacrifices, Satan was couching at the door.55(Gen. 4:7)CEV|KJ|NI In the story of Noah, the raven circling about signifies how Satan was looking for an opportunity to invade Noah’s family right after the flood.56(Gen. 8:7)CEV|KJ|NI Similarly, when Abraham was making his symbolic offering, Satan was on the lookout for an opportunity to seize the sacrifice. He profaned it as soon as he saw that the birds were not divided. The Bible describes this by the image of birds of prey descending upon the sacrifice.
Abraham’s mistake in making the symbolic offering caused the offering to be defiled. All the conditions God intended to restore through it were lost. As a consequence, Abraham’s descendants had to suffer oppression and slavery for four hundred years in the land of Egypt. Let us investigate the reason for this.
God called upon Abraham and commanded him to make the symbolic offering at the completion of a four-hundred-year period for the separation of Satan. This period had been set up to restore through indemnity the ten generations from Adam to Noah and the forty-day period of the flood judgment, lost to Satan due to Ham’s sin. It was also the indemnity period necessary to establish Abraham as the father of faith when he completed the symbolic offering. When Abraham’s mistake in the symbolic offering allowed Satan to claim the offering as his, that four-hundred-year period was also lost to Satan. To re-create on the national level the situation before Abraham’s failure in the symbolic offering, which was itself parallel to when Noah was called upon to build the ark, God set up another four-hundred-year period for the separation of Satan. During this period, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. By enduring through this period, the Israelites were to restore – this time on the national level – the situations of Noah and Abraham at the outset of their missions as the fathers of faith, thereupon also laying the foundation for Moses to begin his mission. Hence, this period of slavery was both the time when the Israelites were being punished for Abraham’s mistake and the time when they were laying the foundation to cut off ties to Satan and commence God’s new providence.
As explained earlier, God had hoped to fulfill, all at once, the dispensations in the formation, growth and completion stages by having Abraham successfully make the symbolic offering of three types of sacrifices on one altar. Contrary to this plan, Abraham failed, repeating the mistakes of the past. Consequently, the providence centered on him was prolonged through the three generations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
After Abraham failed in the symbolic offering, God commanded him to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering.57(Gen. 22:2)CEV|KJ|NI In this way, God began a new dispensation for the purpose of restoring through indemnity Abraham’s failure. According to the principle of predestination, when someone whom God has foreordained to accomplish a certain portion of His Will fails to complete his responsibility, God does not use him a second time. Why, then, did God work with Abraham again when he had him offer Isaac?
We can advance three reasons. First, the number three represents completion.58(cf. Periods 2.4) God’s Principle requires that when the providence to lay the foundation for the Messiah takes place for the third time, it must be brought to completion. Therefore, God’s providence to lay the foundation for the Messiah, which began in Adam’s family as the first dispensation and continued in Noah’s family as the second dispensation, had to conclude in Abraham’s family, which was the third dispensation. For this reason, Abraham was given the opportunity to fulfill a condition of indemnity, albeit at a greater price, and thereby make symbolic restoration of all he had lost when he failed in the earlier symbolic offering. This greater indemnity condition was the offering of his son Isaac as a sacrifice.
Second, as was explained earlier, when Abraham was making his sacrifice, he was in the position of Adam. Satan had attacked both Adam and his son Cain, defiling the family over the course of two generations. Hence, according to the principle of restoration through indemnity, God could work to take back Abraham and his son Isaac over the course of two generations.
Third, we learned that Noah could make the symbolic offering of the ark himself, even though he was in the same position as Adam who could not make the sacrifice directly. This is because he stood upon the merit of Abel, who had demonstrated a faithful heart when he succeeded in the symbolic offering. When Abraham was called by God, he stood on the merit of both Abel, who succeeded in the symbolic offering at the formation stage, and Noah, who succeeded in the symbolic offering at the growth stage. Upon this double foundation, Abraham was to make the symbolic offering at the completion stage. Accordingly, even though Abraham failed, God could raise him up and give him another chance to make an offering based on the accumulated merit of Abel’s and Noah’s faithful hearts.
Before he could offer Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham once again had to demonstrate right faith by repeating the symbolic indemnity condition for the restoration of Adam’s family, as he had when he was about to make the symbolic offering. This is the reason Abraham once again put Sarah in the position of his sister and let her be taken by a king, this time Abimelech of Gerar. After she became the king’s wife, Abraham took her back. This time Abraham also took back with him slaves, who symbolized humanity, and riches, which symbolized the natural world.59(Gen. 20:1-18)CEV|KJ|NI
How did Abraham offer Isaac?
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” –Gen. 22:9-12CEV|KJ|NI
Abraham’s faith was absolute. In obedience to God’s command, he was about to kill Isaac, his only son, intending to offer him as a burnt offering. God intervened at that moment and told Abraham not to kill the boy.
Abraham’s zeal to do God’s Will and his resolute actions, carried out with absolute faith, obedience and loyalty, lifted him up to the position of already having killed Isaac. Therefore, he completely separated Satan from Isaac. God commanded Abraham not to kill Isaac because Isaac, now severed of all ties to Satan, stood on God’s side. We must also understand that when God said, “now I know . . .” He revealed both His reproach to Abraham for his earlier failure in the symbolic offering and His joy over the successful offering of Isaac. Because Abraham succeeded in his offering of Isaac, the providence of restoration in Abraham’s family could be carried on by Isaac.
Abraham took three days to reach the place on Mt. Moriah where he was to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. This three-day period for purifying Isaac was to begin a new course in the providence. Thenceforth, a three-day period has been required for the separation of Satan at the start of new dispensations. We find many instances of such periods in the history of the providence. When Jacob was setting out from Haran with his family to begin the family course to restore Canaan, there was a three-day period for the separation of Satan.60(Gen. 31:20-22)CEV|KJ|NI Moses, too, led the Israelites through a three-day period for the separation of Satan as they left Egypt to begin the national course to restore Canaan.61(Exod. 8:27)CEV|KJ|NI When Jesus began the worldwide spiritual course to restore Canaan, he spent three days in the tomb to accomplish the separation of Satan.
It was explained earlier that although Abraham’s symbolic offering ended in failure, there remained some grounds in the Principle for the foundation for the Messiah to be established centered on him. Yet since he had failed to fulfill his responsibility, Abraham was not qualified to repeat the symbolic offering himself.62(cf. Predestination 3) Somehow, God had to find a way to regard Abraham as though he had not failed in the symbolic offering or caused the prolongation of the providence. To achieve this, God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.
God had previously promised Abraham that He would raise up a chosen people from the lineage of Isaac, saying:
Behold, the word of the Lord came to him, “. . . your own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” –Gen. 15:4-5CEV|KJ|NI
When Abraham was prepared to slay his son, even the son of the promise, he demonstrated utmost loyalty to Heaven. This act of faith was tantamount to Abraham killing himself – a self which had been defiled by Satan due to his earlier failure in the symbolic offering. Accordingly, when God saved Isaac from death, Abraham was also resurrected to life, now loosed from all the ties with which Satan had bound him when his symbolic offering was defiled. Furthermore, Abraham and Isaac attained inseparable oneness in their fidelity to God’s Will.
Though Isaac and Abraham were two different individuals, when God brought them back to life, they became as one person in the sight of God. Even though the dispensation through Abraham had failed and was prolonged through Isaac, as long as Isaac succeeded, Isaac’s victory would become Abraham’s own victory. Therefore, God would be able to regard Abraham as not having failed and the dispensation as not having been prolonged.
It is not clear how old Isaac was when Abraham offered the boy as a sacrifice. He was old enough to carry the wood for the sacrifice,63(Gen. 22:6)CEV|KJ|NI and when he saw there was no lamb to be offered, he inquired of his father about it.64(Gen. 22:7)CEV|KJ|NI Isaac was apparently old enough to understand his father’s intentions. We can infer that he helped his father, even though he knew that his father was preparing to offer him as the sacrifice.
If Isaac had resisted his father’s attempt to offer him as a sacrifice, God definitely would not have accepted the offering. In fact, Isaac demonstrated a faith as great as that of Abraham. Together, their faith made the offering successful, and there was no way for Satan to retain his hold on them. In making the offering, Isaac and Abraham underwent a process of death and resurrection. As a result, two things were accomplished. First, Abraham succeeded in the separation of Satan, who had invaded him because of his mistake in the symbolic offering. He restored through indemnity the position he had occupied before he had made the mistake and transferred his providential mission to Isaac from this restored position. Second, by faithfully obeying God’s Will, Isaac inherited the divine mission from Abraham and demonstrated the faith which qualified him to make the symbolic offering.
After the divine mission had passed from Abraham to Isaac, Abraham offered the ram provided by God as the substitute for Isaac:
Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. –Gen. 22:13CEV|KJ|NI
In fact, this was the symbolic offering by which Isaac restored the foundation of faith. Since Isaac had carried the wood for the sacrifice, we can infer that he participated in the offering of the ram. Thus, even though it is written that Abraham made the symbolic offering, Isaac, who had united with Abraham and inherited his mission, was given providential credit for the offering. In this way, Isaac, having inherited Abraham’s mission, made the symbolic offering and restored through indemnity the foundation of faith.