Abraham and Isaac: A Foreshadow of our Father and Jesus
Abraham had been called out by God to leave his relatives and move to an unknown land. God chose Abraham and made some strong and far-reaching promises to him and his descendants. This is the promise quoted in Genesis 12:2-23 (NKJV), “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. / I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Abraham was seventy-five years old when he left Haran going to the land of Canaan. As he and his wife Sarah were getting older they tried to assist God by taking the maiden, Hagar, as a concubine to raise an heir for Abraham resulting in Ishmael being born. However, this son was not accepted by God to be the heir. The child must be the child of Abraham and Sarah.
Abraham surely was a little frustrated when at the age of ninety-nine he had a two things, a promise from God that his descendants would be as the sand on the seashore and as the stars of heaven and an empty baby bed.
God rolled back the years for Abraham and Sarah as the baby was born to them when he was 100 years old and she was 90 years old. Yes, he was a miracle baby but aren’t all babies miracles after all. Babies are conceived in pleasure and born in pain and we in our lives give our parents both pleasure and pain. Hopefully, we have done more of the former and less of the latter.
A doctor, who was having problems with his teenage son, was delivering a baby. The first-time mother cried out in pain, “When will the pain go away?” The doctor replied to her, “Oh, in about 20 years!”
THE COMMAND: This miracle child by the name of Isaac was the treasure of Abraham’s heart and the promise of his future. He was to be the seed-child from whom this promised great nation would come. Then God made a difficult command; He commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. I can’t imagine the pain and confusion Abraham must have felt. Yet, Abraham without hesitation proceeded to carry out God’s command.
THE JOURNEY: Abraham and his son, Isaac, took two young servant-boys and a donkey loaded with supplies and made a three days journey to the land of Moriah to a designated mountain. This is the same mountain range where Jerusalem and Mount Calvary are located. When they arrived at the foot of the mountain, Abraham could see the place a ways off.
THE TWO SERVANTS: Abraham told his servants to stay with the donkey. He made a profound statement to the two servants, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5 NKJV).
He said, “WE will come back…´ The two servants who stayed with the donkey represent the Law and the Prophets. They brought the materials to the sacrificial mount but they could not go to the sacrifice. They had to stay at the foot of the mountain. The prophets foretold of the “Son” who be the sacrificial lamb yet they did not know His name. The Law provided the instructions but provided no acceptable lamb. Jesus had to trudge to Calvary alone. The Prophets only spoke of His dying but could not share in His pain. The Law made the case for His dying but could never relieve the sting of His death.
Concerning the Law: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24 NKJV).
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3 NKJV).
Concerning the Prophets: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17 NKJV).
WOOD, FIRE, AND THE KNIFE: Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son. Isaac bore the wood for the sacrifice, shedding a little sweat as he went. Jesus, the Son of God bore the cross of His sacrifice, shedding blood on His way. Jesus’ weakened physical body collapsed under the weight of the cross. Isaac bore the weight of his wood because it was only for the sacrifice of one lad. The cross of Christ was for the sin of all mankind. The weight of sin was too heavy for the fleshly man, Jesus. The Romans compelled Simon, a Cyrenian to carry the cross to Calvary. The wood is necessary to intensify the fire to consume the sacrifice. The cross was the intensity of death—not an easy way to die. If it was easy, it would not be a sacrifice.
Abraham took fire (probably, coals in a censer) and a knife and the two went together to the place of sacrifice. The knife represents the point of death—the decision factor for the death was not for the son but for the father. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed three times for the cup of suffering to pass from Him but submitted to the Father, “Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV). The fire is the consuming agent for the sacrifice that sends forth the “sweet aroma” to the nostrils of God meaning the sacrifice is acceptable.
THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE: Isaac surely had sacrificed with his father in times past, so he knew the procedure. “Father, we have the fire and the wood but where is the lamb?” “God will provide”, replied Abraham.
They came to the place where God commanded him to sacrifice. He built an altar, placed the wood in order, and bound his son and laid him on the altar. We are not sure how old Isaac was but he was most likely a teenager because he carried the wood up the mountain. So, if Isaac was fourteen, Abraham would have been 114 years old, meaning there was no struggle to bind the son. If a 114 years old man gets in a wrestling match with a 14 years old teenager—I can guarantee the winner. Isaac submitted to his father. It tears my heart out to visualize the scene of the crying lad surrendering his hands to a broken-hearted father saying, “I’m sorry son but you are the sacrifice!” Jesus went willingly to the cross. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV).
Abraham took the knife to slay his son and then the Angel of the Lord called to him, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12 NKJV).
Abraham obediently offered his son because He loved God. God offered His son because He loved mankind. Abraham had one acceptable son to offer yet he was not suitable for the ultimate sacrifice. There was no one found in Heaven or on earth suitable but Jesus. The fifth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the scene in Heaven with the scroll in the hand of the Father which is the redemptive plan of God. John who saw the vision wept because no one was found worthy to take the scroll and open the seals. He was told not to weep because the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and loose the seals” (Revelation 5:5 NKJV). Then John peered into the midst of the throne and saw “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (v. 6). Yes, the Lamb is Jesus slain for the world.
Abraham offered his son but his hand was stopped and his son saved. A suitable sacrifice, a ram, was caught in the thicket by its horns. When I visualize the ram caught in the thicket by his horns, I see Jesus with a crown of thorns on His head weaved by Roman soldiers and applauded by Jewish leaders. The ram was tangled but Jesus freely gave His life as the politicians and religious leaders wove the tangled web of His persecuted death.
Once the ram was offered as a sacrifice, Abraham and his son, rejoined the two lads at the foot of the mountain. Once Jesus had offered Himself for the sins of the world and was resurrected, he rejoined His Father in Heaven with the host of the ages.
WHAT ABOUT US?
What foolish offering would we even dare to offer for our own sins? Would we offer our good life, our good reputation, or the answer of our lips, “I am better than most”? The scripture has a rebuttal for all, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV).
Please do not attempt to carry the wood for your sacrifice to the mountain top—it is unacceptable. God has provided the one sacrifice, for all time, for all men—it is only Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
My prayer: Thank you Father for Jesus, the only sacrifice for the payment of my sin and shame. I have nothing to offer for the payment of my sin–I am bankrupt!! I accept, I receive, I claim, I trust, I have faith in Christ and Him alone for my redemption.
–Harry L. Whitt