The other night I was watching the History channel’s portrayal of the Bible. I have enjoyed seeing the many stories being put to to the screen in a way that seems to me to
be more accurate than earlier Hollywood offerings have been. One story in particular has stuck in my mind, and that is the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac upon the Mount Moriah. The scene did the biblical account justice as it was quite intense, as you may remember if you too were able to view it. In light of that story, I thought I would share some types and thoughts that the Bible speaks of in the two parallel stories of Isaac & Jesus.
And when Abraham was ninety nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said unto him, I am the Almighty God…I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. …Thou shalt be a father of many nations…and I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations out of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. …And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her and give thee a son of her: Yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings and people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? …And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed: And thou shalt call his name Isaac: And I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. Genesis 17:1-19 (excerpts)
In Isaac shall thy seed be called! Through Isaac, the boy whose name means “laughter,” the boy who was conceived miraculously, would come the everlasting covenant. Likewise Jesus, son of Abraham & Isaac, the completer of the everlasting covenant was also a promised Son who would be conceived supernaturally.
Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God: Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. (Go ahead Ahaz, ask for something outrageous in order that I can prove to you who I am!) But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. Isaiah 7:10-14
As we know from the gospel accounts, the angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary and she conceived the Messiah prior to consummating her marriage to her husband Joseph. Jesus, the Christ, was the outlandish sign which God, through Isaiah, gave to King Ahaz and to all the house of David!
Continuing with Isaac’s depiction of the Lord, we come to wonderful Chapter 22 of the Book of Genesis.
And he (God) said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Genesis 22:2-3
Wait a minute! God told this great man Abraham, this man who had walked with him for decades to do what! Yes, that’s right; God did tell Abraham to take the promised son, the one from which would come nations and kings, and to offer him as a sacrifice back to him! Why would Abraham do a crazy thing like that? How could our father of faith actually carry out this command?
The book of Hebrews gives us the answer.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: And he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said (promised), that in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; Hebrews 11:17-19
This is great faith! We who live in the 21st Century know the story. We can see the type. We believe in the Resurrection! Abraham didn’t have the benefit of knowing Jesus’ story. In his day, resurrection wasn’t a reality! It wasn’t something that people hoped for! Indeed, Abraham truly is “the Father of Faith!” He was the author of outrageous faith!
Continuing with these verses, look back at verse 2. God told Abraham to go to the land of Moriah. “Foreseen of the Lord” is the meaning of the word “Moriah” & according to II Chronicles 3:1, Mount Moriah is the exact location where Solomon built the Temple of the Lord. This is eye opening! The place where sacrifice was later offered up to God for the sins of the people is the place where God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac! We remember in Jesus’ story that our Lord was sacrificed outside of the camp on Calvary. Well, the hill we know as Golgotha, the place of the skull, is actually the uppermost portion of Mount Moriah!
I suspect you are starting to see why Isaac certainly was included in the Teacher’s remarks to those two men on the road to Emmaus. Hang on, there’s more!
God also told Abraham in verse 2 that Isaac was to be a burnt offering. In the Old Testament the burnt offering was a voluntary offering which pictures our Savior’s total consecration and dedication in doing the Father’s will.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning…and went to the place of which God had told him. (emphasis mine) Genesis 22:3
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. (emphasis mine) Luke 23:33
Again, the place called Moriah & the place called Calvary are one in the same!
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son: And he took the fire in his hand, and a knife… Genesis 22:6
These items of course picture Jesus’ cross, the fire of God’s wrath towards sin and the Roman centurion’s spear which was thrust into the heart of our Redeemer!
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father and said…Behold the fire and the wood: But where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, my son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: (emphasis mine) Genesis 22:7-8
People read this verse as “Don’t worry Isaac, God will provide us a lamb.” Sort of like Abraham is holding back on Isaac as to what God told him was needed. But that’s not what it says…It doesn’t say God will provide us a lamb, it says, God will provide himself a lamb! That is, God himself is the Lamb!
We know this to be true as later John the Baptist said to those gathered at the River Jordan, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
The story climaxes with Abraham & Isaac arriving at Calvary and building the altar of sacrifice. Abraham then bound Isaac & laid him upon the wood. Next, in an eye closing and chair gripping moment, Abraham stretched forth his hand, which held the knife, and would have slain his son, when the Angel of the Lord called out to him to cease from the sacrifice!
Wow! Abraham was really going to do it! This is incredible to me. I could no more do that than I could swim across Lake Michigan! But somehow, through all of Abraham’s past dealings with God, he had come to the place of this kind of incredible faith! Faith that moves mountains! Faith that the raises the dead! Faith that believes God, no matter what!
Of course, in staying the sacrifice, this is the only place where the analogy breaks down. For in the greater than Isaac, in Jesus Christ, the Father did not spare his Son. God
indeed, did provide himself a Lamb. He is the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. My sins & your sins, taken away!
As an application, I must question what would have happened if Abraham would not have been listening at that moment when God called out from heaven telling him not to offer his son. Well obviously, Abraham would have killed Isaac! And that’s another lesson in this story. Abraham apparently was listening. I need to do that too! This story shows me that revelation from God can change. If I’m not listening constantly then I may get the first part of the message only to miss the second or third part. In fact, in studying God’s dealings with men, the Author of Life hardly ever lets us in on the “Big Picture!” Ask Job & Jonah to get more amplification on this concept. God prefers to give progressive revelation to you & me to build our faith. It’s one step at a time with Him.
As an extension of this idea, has God ever asked you to do something painful like He did in our story to Abraham? Have you ever felt convicted to give a painful amount of money as an offering to Him, or stirred to give up a valued possession or to go and serve in an uncomfortable setting? It may be that God is proving you just like he proved Abraham. It may be that God wants to see if you will actually do the seemingly outrageous thing that he is calling you to do! It’s not for him though, he already knows what will happen…It’s for you, it’s for me! We get to find out, we get to pass the test, we get to have a story too!
And the cool part is that when we are victorious we are blessed far beyond what we were asked to sacrifice. As I give to the Lord, I know that God will be a debtor to no man. I always receive back more than I let go! As I agree to release that possession, often God will say “Good, now that you see that you can live without that, why don’t you just keep it anyway!” As you serve in an uncomfortable setting, guess what, things start to get comfortable! That’s what happened to Abraham.
…because you have done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son…I will bless thee…I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore…and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Genesis 22:16-18
Truly, the repercussions of faith are enormous! Not only affecting the believer himself, but blessing generations that follow after!
To read more of Dr Dan’s insights to Jesus & God’s Word click below:
Birth Pangs: How Pregnancy Reveals God’s Plan for the Ages
Israel, the Nations & the Church are late in the 3rd trimester, the days Jesus said would be the beginning of sorrows. Behind us are the 1st & 2nd trimester pangs of the Old Testament. Before us is the true labor of the Book of Revelation & and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Don’t be caught off guard! Learn how pregnancy opens secrets of the Book of Revelation as well as reveals God’s plan for the ages in Birth Pangs by Dr Dan Tomlinson. To purchase Birth Pangs from Amazon.com click here.
To read an excerpt from Birth Pangs click here.