Last week we looked at the foreshadowing of the gospel found in the account of the Great Flood of Noah’s time. This week let’s look at another shadow of the gospel of Christ found in Genesis 22, the chronicle of Abraham and Isaac.
A little history to set the stage: God promised Abraham that he and his wife Sarah would have a son together that he would be the seed of a great nation. Both Abraham and Sarah were long passed the childbearing age, and without getting into a lot of detail, after some self-created trials and troubles due to lack of faith and patience (see Gen 16, 21), Isaac was born to Sarah when she was 90 years old. Isaac was indeed the son God promised Abraham and went on to become an early father of the nation of Israel.
But while Isaac was a young boy, probably a teenager, and certainly without children of his own, God asked Abraham to do something incredible: sacrifice his son. Without delay or any questioning recorded in scripture, Abraham obeyed. Perhaps he learned his lesson in not trusting God after seeing Isaac born as God had promised…? Either way, this was an incredible and incomprehensible ask, yet he obeyed in faith.
The day after God gave Abraham this command, he rose early in the morning and set out with Isaac. Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Gen 22:6
I find it striking that Isaac was asked to carry the wood on his back, just as Jesus carried His cross on the way to Calvary. From the first moment, God was already imprinting the shadow of what was to come through Jesus.
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, 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.” Gen 22:7-8
What incredible faith! Abraham fully believed God’s promise that Isaac would be the father of a great nation and it seems he expected some kind of miracle to take place. He knew that God was going to provide the sacrificial lamb (sound familiar?) but God had not yet told him the whole plan.
Abraham then built an altar and laid Isaac on it, still unquestioning and trusting in God, then we read: Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay 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 stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Gen 22:10-12
In the next verse God himself does indeed provide the sacrificial animal and then makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham, who became the father of Israel through Isaac.
What does this passage teach us about the gospel?
- God will test our faith to prove it is genuine. It’s part of the refining process for every believer (1 Pet 1:7) and helps us love Him more than anything else. Abraham passed a divine test with flying colors and remains an example to us, showing that a true and unwavering faith, even under intense pressure, is required to live a holy life which honors God (John 3:36, Luke 6:46, Rom 12:1).
- The LORD has real emotions. God painted an explicit picture of just how painful it was for Him to provide His Son, His only begotten Son (John 3:16), as a sacrificial sin offering for the world. We must never detach the emotional aspect from the cross and what Jesus did for us, and it should serve as a reminder how much He loves us and how much we owe Him (John 17, Gal 2:20, 1 John 4:16)
- God always keeps His promises! When the LORD promises that He will not let anyone snatch us from His hand and that not a single true believer will be left behind, we can trust Him completely. What great comfort and peace this should bring us (John 6:37, Rom 8:38-39, 1 John 2:25)!
This weekend let’s consider areas of our lives that are not fully surrendered to the LORD and pray that He would help us turn those over to Him in devotion and thanksgiving. And if you’re going through a test of faith right now, know the LORD is nearby – keep your trust in Him and remember that He loves you more than you can imagine!