Who Heard God’s Second Double Knock?

The Bible records only eight times when God reiterates someone’s name. At the very instant every fiber of his being strained to prove his absolute faith in God, Abraham heard the first double knock. God used it the next time on his grandson.

Jacob’s plight was also woven in the tapestry of trusting God. But whereas Abraham knew he was following God’s instructions to the letter on Mt. Moriah, Jacob needed confirmation the steps he was taking were God’s orders. He had come a long way from where he was when fleeing from his brother’s murderous rage.

When he reached Bethel, he had covered 48 miles of the 400-mile escape route. Resting his head on a stone pillow that night, Jacob dreamed of a heavenly stairway. From its top God spoke:

“I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:13-15 ESV).

As momentous as that divine message of promised protection and posterity was, God did not introduce it with a double knock. Nor did God use that twenty years later in another dream:

Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see . . . for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred’” (Genesis 31:11-13 ESV).

The double knock did not come, either, the night Jacob tenaciously held on to God (Genesis 32:24-28) for a blessing. As important as it was, God’s blessing–changing Jacob’s name to Israel–was not preceded with a double knock.

Years had piled on top of years when God sent Jacob back to Bethel to erect an altar (Genesis 35:1). There, in the sanctity of worship, God confirmed Jacob’s name change and renewed the Abrahamic covenant with him (Genesis 35:10-15). But even this special occasion did not call forth the double knock.

Jacob’s ears tuned in to God’s double knock seventeen years short of his death. He heard it at Beersheba, the hometown he had fled for his life. That time he had run north to Haran. This time he was passing through Beersheba in Pharaoh’s wagon on his way to Egypt. Again Jacob found himself leaving his comfort zone to enter the unknown.

The first time he carried only his staff. This time he took with him children and children-in-law, grandchildren, livestock, and household goods. The first time was for survival. This time too. Both times he was shaking in his sandals, and both times God reassured him. This time, however, God invoked the double knock:

And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes” (Genesis 46:2-4 ESV).

When speaking the double knock, God used the old name “Jacob,” not the upgraded “Israel” God had blessed him with at the end of their all-night wrestling event. Hearing his birth name used and doubled stirs Jacob to recall God’s presence in his life’s pilgrimage from the first Bethel experience onward.

In a twinkling Jacob reflects on who he had been without God and who he had become with God and knows he never wants to be without God. He is readied to listen intently to and obey whatever God says now.

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Who Heard God’s First Double Knock?

The Bible records only eight times when God reiterates someone’s name (Before moving on, you may find it helpful to open God’s Double Knocks.)

Abraham heard the first of God’s double knocks. He was about to slit his son’s throat when God called out “Abraham! Abraham!” (Genesis 22:11 NIV) and stopped the slaying.

How did Abraham get to this place? Through faith’s route. Obedient step-by-step faith in God had led him there.

Periodically, Abraham heard God declare he would become the father of innumerable descendants. After twenty-five years of hearing God repeat it, Abraham struggled to hold on to the promise. His mind couldn’t figure out how it would happen, because he and his wife remained childless. Logically, it was too late for a blood heir. Was there another way God would fulfill His promise?

God listened to Abraham’s troubled mind and assured him that “a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir” (Genesis 15:4 NIV). And that’s what happened.

Abraham, aged one hundred, fathered Isaac by his wife Sarah, aged ninety. The patriarch cradled in his arms tangible proof that God is true to His word. So God’s directive to him years later must have sounded inconceivable:

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” (Genesis 22:2 NIV).

Surely, this was the most gut-wrenching, agonizing moment in Abraham’s life. Why would God ask this of him? It made no sense to promise him a son, fulfill that promise, and then tell him to kill the promise. Isaac embodied the future.

During the 50-mile trip to Moriah, Abraham had three days to mull it over. And enough time to turn back. But he trekked on with his son beside him. By the time they reached the destination, Abraham had the matter settled in his mind:

He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5 NIV).

Did you notice “We will come back”? Abraham believed that somehow both he and his son would return alive. Did he think that God would resurrect Isaac? Whatever he thought, Abraham was confident God would keep his word that Isaac was the next conduit for the promised future nations. That belief, however, did not erase carrying out God’s order to sacrifice Isaac.

Abraham stacked stones for an altar . . . arranged wood on the stones . . . wound leather thongs around Isaac’s ankles and wrists . . . laid his submissive son on the wood . . . clasped the knife in his sweaty palm . . . stretched out his hand for the death cut and instantly froze at the sound of God’s urgent double knock.

“Abraham! Abraham! . . . 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 22:11-12 NIV).

Father Abraham passed God’s proof test for total commitment. At test time may we also trust God Almighty all the way.
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