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Samuel Kuo
April 20, 2020
This entry is part [part not set] of 24 in the series 156 Pictures of Christ in the Old Testament
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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Fact About Christ from page 6: Christ was crucified like Isaac was offered to God.

Jesus Christ… son of Abraham.

– Matthew 1:1

Today, we will look at the second picture of Christ found in Isaac, the son of Abraham. Abraham’s offering of Isaac is perhaps the most well-known picture of Christ’s death on the cross. This story comes from Genesis 22. The chapter itself is a short read, I recommend all to read it in its entirety before continuing on. 

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

– Genesis 22:2

By this time in his life, Abraham is no stranger to God’s appearing to him. In his life of following God, he has already sacrificed a lot. He leaves his country, his kindred, and his father’s house. He separates from Lot, the nephew as close as a son to him. He dwells as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in a tent all his life, as a stranger and an exile on the earth (Hebrews 11:9, 13). And yet this is the highest price of all. Isaac. Your son. The one with all the promises and all the inheritance. Your only son. The one he cast out all the others for. The one whom you love. (Note that this is the first time “love” is used in the Bible!). And offer him. 

It’s hard to even comprehend that God would ask him that. Where is the compassion? What about Abraham’s sanity? Try to put yourself into Abraham’s thoughts and feelings. After so many years, he finally has Isaac, truly his heir through Sarah. A miracle. A blessing from God. He was able to live with Isaac and love him. Able to see him grow into a young man and love him more. Able to dream about Isaac growing into maturity, worthy of the inheritance of God. Oh, what happy days those must have been! But to offer him!? How does that even fit with the promise: through Isaac shall your offspring be named (Genesis 21:12)? Far from the laughter after which Isaac was named, this was a sober matter. 

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.

– Genesis 22:3-4

By early in the morning, Abraham had decided. He would obey. Still, the journey took three days. It’s hard to say exactly what he felt in those three days. Three days of anguish, of mourning, of wrestling with God? Or three days of resolve and grim determination? Regardless, from the moment Abraham sets out, we see that surely Isaac is already as dead to him. 

And 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 they went both of them together.

– Genesis 22:6

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

– Genesis 22:9

On Isaac’s part, what is absent in the story is more surprising than what is recorded. There is no record of any struggle or resistance on Isaac’s part. He carried the wood of his own offering on his back. When bound onto that very same wood he carried, there is no protest nor panic. Just a quiet submission to the orders of his father. 

Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

– Genesis 22:8

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

– Genesis 22:13

Oh, how prophetic of a statement Abraham has in his response to Isaac! God will provide for himself the lamb. When spoken, how little he could have known the double fulfillment of that faithful word. In faith he is ready to offer Isaac, and receives a ram to offer in Isaac’s place. And in faith, he declares the future triumph for us who hope in Christ. God will provide for himself the lamb. 

And in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.

– Genesis 22:18

Through his obedience, Abraham receives not only the words of the promise, but is able to see how that promise of God would be fulfilled in His eternal plan in vivid action. Not only Abraham’s own descendants, but all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in this way: an only Son willing to be sacrificed by a loving Father. 

What does the New Testament say about it?

The significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the topic of a large portion of the New Testament, and can not be covered in depth here. I will simply list a few verses to reflect upon with the picture of Isaac in view. 

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

– Hebrews 11:17-19

And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

– Mark 1:11

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

– John 3:16

So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

– John 19:16-17

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

– Philippians 2:8

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

– John 1:29

Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’

– Luke 24:5-7

So what does this picture say about Christ?

Christ is the only Son, the Son the Father loves. Yet when He is offered on our behalf, He is fully obedient to the Father. He is the lamb God has provided for Himself. This sacrifice brings blessing and salvation to all the nations of the earth. 

What does this mean for me as a Christian? 

There is much to dwell on in this picture. Isaac bore the wood on his own shoulders! The substitute ram! The meaning of a burnt offering! 

We can meditate on how much the Father loved Christ. He was the only Son! Oh, that we could love the Son as well. Yet he was offered for us. How can we truly appreciate what the Father has done for us?  

There is the submission of the Son. Are we obedient to the will of the Father? Do we struggle and strive against the environment or circumstances He has placed us in, or can we ask for a humble and obedient heart?

There is the obedience of Abraham. Who or what takes the place of “Isaac” in our life? Would we be able to obey if God would ask for our greatest treasure as an offering to Him? 

We could dwell on the three days of anguish along the way. How dark and hopeless the situation must have seemed in those three days! And yet, how glorious and joyful the resurrection! 

Take some time to reread the story and let the Lord speak to you through the details. Use this as an opportunity to really engage with the Word of God and to let His Spirit lead your study. There will be no questions at the end of this article, like the others, but please, share what portion of the story the Lord led you to consider in this time. 

Have any inspirations or questions about the content of the article? Or do you just want to say hello and introduce yourself? We’d love to hear from all our readers! Leave a comment or send an email to editors@asweetsavor.org with the title of this post in the subject line. 

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