Faith on Faith series: It Always Leads Back to Jesus
“On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the boy will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” And Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. And Abraham reached out with his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not reach out your hand against the boy, and do not do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by its horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in the place of his son.” (Genesis 22:4-13, NASB)
I have to say, one of my favorite things about this story is not just the amazing faith seen from both Abraham and Isaac, but the way that this story– found in one of the first chapters we ever see of scripture– is so obviously a story about Jesus at the beginning of it all.
Do you see it? If not, read today’s verses again. Because in every way it can be, this story is a tit for tat retelling of the story of Jesus’ ultimate work on the cross– more than 30 generations before it ever happened.
First, we start with an only son who is beloved by his Father. Yes, Isaac was Abraham’s second-born son, but Abraham had just been commanded to let his firstborn son go. For Abraham, his first son Ishmael was dead to him, because God commanded him to cast out that son. Isaac, by all intents and purposes, is the only, promised son of Abraham, just in the same way that Jesus is God’s one and only son. (John 3:16)
Because of the way Abraham obeyed God when he was ordered to cast Ishmael out, we know that as soon as God gives Abraham the order to kill Isaac, Isaac is as good as dead in Abraham’s heart. Will it bring him grief to kill his son? Yes, but at this point in Abraham’s walk with the Lord, when God says it, it is as good as done.
But it takes three days between the order and getting to the top of Mount Moriah to do the deed. Sound familiar? Isaac, on the first day, is spiritually dead to Abraham, and on the third day, God pardons Isaac from death, giving him a second chance at life. Just in the way that it took Jesus three days to go from death to life.
In verse 6, Abraham makes Isaac carry the wood for the offering up to the place where he will be sacrificed, just as Jesus carried His cross of wood through the city of Jerusalem up to the place where He would be crucified. (John 19:17)
Most importantly, when Abraham raises up the knife to kill Isaac, God stops Abraham; seeing that Abraham would truly not hold anything back to please the Lord. And once God stops Abraham, He also provides a ram to sacrifice instead of Isaac. Instead of a human sacrifice of the promised son of Abraham, God provides a suitable sacrifice to cleanse the sins of Abraham and Isaac. Meanwhile, generations later, Jesus the promised son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would go to the cross and die as the ultimate Lamb of God, sent to take away the sin of the world once and for all. (John 1:29)
You see, Abraham’s sacrifice without hesitation is not only a test of Abraham’s faith, but a priceless picture of what God would give for us one day in the same spot. You see, Mount Moriah would later become ground zero for the temple in Jerusalem, the place where God tore the veil on the day of Jesus’ death, effectively tearing down the separation sin built between us and God.
In fact, most Bible scholars think that Abraham and Isaac should have been able to lift up their eyes and see what would later be Golgotha from where they stood. And whether or not that’s true, it still goes to show that God was giving us signs and promises all along the way that this plan He so carefully laid out would lead to the cross, and eventually, the empty grave.
And I think that’s the most breathtaking thing about this story: That even hundreds of years before the cross, God was showing us where we would all end up. On a day in Abraham’s life, full of blind faith and trust in God, we can see a shadow of what was to come. Because God, in all His love for His only, beloved Son, took Him to the top of a mountain, laid Him on a pile of wood, and let Him die so that we could see how much He loves us. He gave his only son so I could come closer. He gave his only son so you could be with Him again.
Abraham showed God he would not withhold his son, and so, in turn, God proved He would not withhold His. He showed that He would not spare His son, being the only lamb spotless enough to correct the damage done at the fall. Because He has never, not even once gone back on a promise that He has given us. In fact, He goes out of His way to show us over and over again that He won’t. He said He’d make a way and He did. He sent His Son, who lived, died, rose again, and is coming back again.
In the light of a God that would go so far for us, how could we ever dream of holding anything back from Him? This week, as we all take the time to remember what God has done and what He will do, let’s also remember that He has gone so far out of His way to show us that He is a God that loves radically and passionately. Let’s remember that He’s a God that will never leave us or forsake us, and let’s take the time to really meditate on the fact that we serve a God that planned for a cross and a grave on His throne in Heaven, just so He could have you closer.
What a mighty God we serve, friends. He has never withheld anything from us, and as Easter Sunday quickly approaches, we would do well to remember that Jesus was the only son He had, and He gave absolutely everything so you would know just how truly you are loved.