Read: Genesis 18-22 // 24-26
Not Read: Genesis 23
In this week’s reading, we are right in the middle of the story of Abraham and Sarah, which if we’re honest, reads more like a soap-opera than a Biblical account of two of the most faithful people mentioned in Scripture. In our chapters this week we will see Abraham plead against the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife give a whole new meaning to “not being worth a grain of salt,” Abraham prostitute out his wife (Sarah) to save his own skin, the birth of Abraham and Sarah’s promised son – Isaac, the death of both Abraham and Sarah, and a birthright feud between Isaac’s sons Jacob and Esau.
But even in the midst of all the drama and Hollywood type stories, one particular portion of these passages stands out among the rest – the testing of Abraham in chapter 22. God tells Abraham to take his one and only son, Isaac, up to the region of Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice. Now, remember, Abraham and Sarah did not have Isaac until he was 100 and she was 80. Not to mention, God had promised Abraham that he would make him into a great nation, and to have a nation, you have got to have children. Isaac was their only child, and God just asked Abraham to kill him. This did not make sense whatsoever, but Abraham agrees, and they head to the mount. While up there Abraham does everything God asks and right before he kills his son, God stops Abraham and provides a ram for the sacrifice. Because of Abraham’s faith in God, God promises him he would be extremely blessed. Abraham then named that mount, “The Lord will Provide,” and he and Isaac made their way back home. (Imagine how awkward of a trip back that was.)
In this story, we see the amazing faith of Abraham and the true faithfulness of God at the moment, but we also see something else. We see a foreshadowing of an even greater showing of the faithfulness of God – in this story we see a foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus.
Take a look at Genesis 22:2, 2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Thousands of years after this moment, God offered his only Son (the word here is the same word that is used in John 3:16) as an offering/sacrifice. In this verse we see God tell Abraham to take his son to a place called Moriah, which means foreknown or “pre-chosen” in Hebrew, but do you know what eventually became located at Moriah? The city of Jerusalem, the city where Jesus was crucified – on a mount called Golgotha. Let’s move to verse 3. 3 So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey… Do you know how Jesus entered into Jerusalem before His crucifixion? He rode a donkey. Verse six – 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together. Isaac, here representing Jesus, carries the wood that will be used for his death – representing how Jesus carried His cross over 650 yards down the Via de la Rosa to the place where He would be crucified. Verses 7 and 8 – and 7 Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together. Isaac knows that a lamb must be slain for the sacrifice to be made but doesn’t see one and Abraham answers that the LORD Himself will provide the lamb. What we miss here in English is huge. When viewed in the original language this verse can literally be read as, “The LORD will provide Himself as the lamb for the offering.” Verse 9 – 9 When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. What we need to realize here is Isaac was fully capable of resisting Abraham and saving himself from the death that was coming to him. Isaac was a young strapping teenager, and Abraham was somewhere around 115 years old. There was no possible way Abraham could subdue him, but Isaac willingly climbed on top of the wood and allowed Abraham to bind him. This is the exact same way it worked with Jesus on the cross. There was no way anyone could have forced Him to be bound up and killed; Jesus gave Himself up willingly. Verse 13 is the part of the story where Isaac no longer represents Jesus. Isaac would not have been the perfect, blameless sacrifice that Jesus was. This was part of the story that Isaac could have never fulfilled and is why we see what we do in verse 13 – 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. God did exactly what Abraham said He would do in verse 8 – He provided a lamb. Because all a ram is, is a male, adult lamb. But what we notice in this verse is there was something special about this lamb – it was caught in a thicket of thorns by its horns. This lamb was literally crowned with thorns just as Jesus was on the cross. God had provided Himself as the lamb to be sacrificed in the place of all mankind. “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2nd Corinthians 5:21)
In this passage we definitely see incredible faith from Abraham but more than anything we see Jesus – the true revelation of the unconditional love and faithfulness of our God. The One who provided Himself as the sacrifice in our place. So as you continue to read through our F260 plan, be on the
Written by: Andrew Bates
Photo Credit: Andrew Bates