Abraham Offered Isaac (Genesis 22)
A Type Of Christ
>Genesis 22:1-2 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he 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.
Abraham, the Father of faith, the “father of a multitude” (as his name signified), had been walking with the Lord God for possibly fifty years or more at this time. He had gone through various tests and trials – each one strengthening his faith a little more; and he was about to face his toughest test yet! God was going to test/tempt him (which basically means, “to try, to prove” him) to show to himself and to the world how much he loved God and the evidence of his faith.
Hebrews 11:17-18 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, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
God was calling Abraham to offer his son, the son he loved so much – the son that all the promises of God hinged upon, the son he had waited for 25 years to have, the son he had with Sarah, the son of his love. To offer Isaac on Mount Moriah as a burnt offering, wholly consumed upon the altar. The Lord knew how strong Abraham’s faith was, and knew it would not be above what Abraham was able to endure (see 1 Corinthians 10:13), but would be an excellent lesson to us all. Abraham’s faith was so strong by this point in his walk with the Lord that his faith did not falter – he trusted God, and obeyed.
Genesis 22:3-4 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
All the promises of the Messiah coming through his line depended upon this son, all the promises of inheriting the land and receiving a city depended upon Isaac, all the promises of his descendants being as the stars in number and as the sand of the sea depended upon this son of promise, all the promises of being a blessing to the nations of the world depended upon Isaac being alive – but God had called him to sacrifice him on an altar three days journey away!
So Abraham journeyed to the place God told him of (the mountain range of Moriah – where Calvary/Gologtha was, where Solomon’s temple would later be built), there to offer his beloved son.
2 Chronicles 3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
For three days, Abraham considered his son as dead – but believing God would have to raise Isaac up to fulfill all His promises – and in that too we see a type of Christ, the coming Messiah and Saviour of the world.
Hebrews 11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
God the Father sent His only begotten Son, His Beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, the Son of promise, to die for our sins on Calvary, where He would then die upon a cruel wooden cross and be buried in a tomb for three days and three nights – but would then arise triumphant over the grave. I believe Abraham was beginning to get a glimpse of what the Messiah would one day do…
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
Abraham wasn’t 100% sure what exactly would transpire upon that Mount, but he testified of his faith to the men that were travelling with him: “Wait here, we will go and worship God upon this mountain, and will both come back to you again.” What faith!
Genesis 22:6 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; and they went both of them together.
Here we see the son of promise bearing his own wood that he would be sacrificed upon – much as Jesus, the Beloved Son of Promise, would one day bear His own cross to Calvary.
John 19:17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.
It is interesting to note that the only ones who would see what would happen upon that mountain would be Abraham and Isaac, father and son – much like what happened on Calvary that day, when darkness for three hours hid the eyes of prying man from the Saviour who was bearing the sins of the world and God’s wrath upon that cross. (See Matthew 27:45-46)
And he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
“The fire here speaks of judgment, and the knife speaks of the execution of judgment and of sacrifice.” (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary, Genesis.)
Genesis 22:7-8 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he 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: so they went both of them together.
Notice the faith of Abraham – he looked forward to the cross, where the Messiah, the Lamb of God, would die in our place. Notice verse 8 says “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” It doesn’t say, “God will provide for Himself a lamb,” but that “God will provide Himself a lamb” – ie. provide Himself as the lamb! This theme is pictured all through the Old Testament, in every sacrifice – especially in the burnt offering, in the Passover Lamb, in Isaiah 53, in the New Testament, and even in the book of Revelation, where Jesus is referred to as “a Lamb as it had been slain,” bearing the scars of His crucifixion for eternity.
“God will provide Himself a lamb.” Abraham was looking prophetically towards God’s fulfillment of all His promises, especially of the coming Redeemer.
Genesis 22:9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
Abraham got everything in order, prepared the altar – and his son willingly laid down his life! We must remember that Isaac here is a grown man – somewhere between the age of 25-35; no one forced him to give in – Isaac willingly let his father bind him upon the altar, he willingly laid down his life.
Much like our Saviour came down from Heaven, and willingly laid down His life to save us.
Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Psalms 118:21-28 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
The ultimate test – and here Abraham obeyed, without faltering in his faith – an example to us all. Have you given your all to the Lord, have you given yourself and everything you love into His sovereign hand and will? Look what God did next:
Genesis 22:11-12 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
God knew all along how Abraham would fare in this test – but He allowed it so the world would see and be blessed by Abraham’s faith. Abraham proved to himself and us how great his faith was, and how much he loved the Lord more than all else, including his beloved son of promise! Abraham obeyed God because of the love and fear (ie. reverential awe and respect) he had for the Lord. Abraham passed the test of his faith – it was real and it was proven to the world.
In Genesis 15:6, we had the declaration that Abraham “believed in the Lord; and he (the Lord) counted it to him for righteousness.”
Abraham was justified before God by believing His promises, especially about the coming Messiah and Redeemer who would one day die for his sins (see also Genesis 3:15). Now here we have the passage that explains what many would try to state is a contradiction in the Word of God and which religious groups have always sought to twist:
James 2:20-23 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Rightly divided, this passage is teaching that Abraham was justified before men by acting upon his faith. You see, man cannot see what is in the heart of another man – only the Lord can. We see the proof, the evidence, the fruit of someone’s salvation, by how they live – we see the evidence of their faith by how they live it out on a day to day basis, on the works that they do because of their faith. That is the evidence that their salvation was real in the first place. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” What is on the inside, what is in the heart, will come out eventually. What is the evidence showing in your life? If you have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, believing that He paid the complete penalty for your sins, when He died in your place, there will be evidence to the world around you. Can they see your faith?
Genesis 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
I have already touched down on this a little – here we see a ram offered in the stead of his son, Isaac – much like Jesus was offered in our stead. Here we have a wonderful picture of the coming Messiah. Lest someone think that this was the fulfillment of Abraham’s statement, “God will provide Himself a lamb,” realize this is a ram here, NOT a lamb. The Lamb of God was still to come, and that Lamb would be Jesus.
One part of the picture here that might be easily overlooked is the fact that not only was this ram a substitute, its blood also had to be shed before it was burnt completely on the altar. All the Old Testament animal sacrifices – from those animals slain for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to those Passover lambs being slain in the same day that Christ was crucified – and their shed blood (that provided an atonement – a covering for their souls, see Leviticus 17:11) pointed toward the great Sacrifice of Christ and the blood He would one day shed on the cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. Jesus’ death and shed blood was the fulfillment of all these types, and in complete accordance with what the atonement pictured in the Old Testament. See Romans 5:11; Hebrews 9:22-10:10. But not only did Christ’s sacrifice provide a covering for sins, it also took them completely away! (This is pictured by the two sacrifices on the Day of Atonement – but that is another study for another day.)
John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Abraham offered the ram in the stead of his son – in the place of his son, as a substitute. One day, almost 2000 years ago, Jesus died in our stead, in our place, bearing the wrath and judgment that our sins deserved, as our Subsitute – this is what is often referred to as the Substitutionary Atonement.
Here, I believe, Abraham got his clearest glimpse of the coming Messiah:
John 8:56-58 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
In the Old Testament, God’s name Jehovah means, “I Am that I Am.” (See Exodus 3:14) This is exactly who Jesus claimed to be, which is why the unbelieving Jews got upset – but notice how it fulfilled the wonderful prophecy made by Abraham: “God will provide Himself a lamb.” There are no contradictions in the Word of God – it is all one big Book that fits together wonderfully!
One of my favourite verses in the whole Bible:
Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
Jehovahjireh – the Lord my Provider! The name means literally, “The Lord Will See or Provide,” signifying that the Lord has seen my need and and will provide it. The Bible teaches that Jesus saw our greatest need: for salvation from sin and eternity in Hell, and provided for that need. Now all that trust in Him have the promise that as they walk with Him they will have all their other needs provided for as well:
Romans 8:31-32 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
What a wonderful promise! What a wonderful Saviour! What a wonderful type
Galatians 3:8-9 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
I hope this passage was opened up to you and helped you to understand a bit more about the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you trusted in His free gift of salvation? God preached the Gospel to Abraham through prophecies and types, and here we see this type opened up before our eyes. Have you received this Gospel of salvation in your heart, and have you receive the Saviour it tells of?
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
Jesus was crucified on Calvary, which is on Mount Moriah, was buried in a tomb for three days and three nights, and then arose triumphantly over the grave. Have you trusted the Lamb of God to take away your sins and save you?
January 12th, 2006