17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death Hebrews 11:17-19(NIV)
We all know the story of how God told Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Now as a parent myself I have a hard time with this story. It is one thing to ask for my life, but to ask me to give up the lives of my children! I don’t think I could do that and I’m more than a little bothered that it’s even an option. However, there is more to this story just this little blurb in Hebrews.
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you. Genesis 22:1-2.
Two things I notice about this passage; first, When God calls Abraham, Abraham responds right away. Just something to note. The second things is that God knows how much Abraham love Isaac: He says is right there in verse 2 “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac”. God knows exactly what He is asking Abraham to do there. He knows long Abraham waited for Isaac, around 25 years at least. If you talk to most expectant couples, they can’t even wait the whole nine months, especially if there were fertility issues. Again I find this a hard story, so I can only imagine how hard this was for Abraham.
Something I should mention is that this story is what Bible scholars call a “type“. Very basically it’s a foreshadow or copy of another story. Most types are to show some aspect of Christ or God. This one shows the crucifixion. So even as I’m saying this would be hard for me, and must have awful for Abraham, neither one of us actually had to sacrifice a child. God did. So with this story he is helping everyone see the magnitude of what he did. I have to admit I didn’t fully understand this story or the crucifixion until I had children of my own.
Now the part that I find most amazing.
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together Genesis 22:3-6 (NIV)
Abraham got up and went. That’s it, no argument, not complaint, not even a delay! God said kill you son, and the next morning Abraham got up and went out to do exactly what God asked of him. Again I don’t think I could do it. How could Abraham? Well the answer is in Hebrews. Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death Hebrew 11:19. That also takes faith. I don’t think I would even think that far ahead. Of course God can bring somebody back from the dead, but my first response would be to argue or barter, or….something. Not Abraham. He just trusted God.
Look at the last part of verse 19.and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. What does that mean? We know Isaac didn’t die, that God intervened. I could mean that Abraham trusted God and followed God so completely that from the moment God said to sacrifice Isaac Abraham just assumed he would die and acted as such, but I don’t think so. remember that type thing I was talking about earlier. Keep that in mind as we watch what happens next.
Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together Genesis 22:7-8
Ok, Isaac isn’t stupid. The scholars place his age at this point between 6-16. He’s been to sacrifices with his father before. He’s getting a bit concerned here. Abraham just says God will provide. We know he does, because we read the story, but Abraham just has to go on faith.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. Genesis 22:9-10.
What I want to mention is that this is the last time Isaac is mentioned for a while. He’s still there, but he is not mentioned. That’s important and I’ll get back to why a little further down.
11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba Genesis 22:11-19.
And now comes the resolution we were all hoping for. God provides a ram and Abraham doesn’t have to kill the son he has waited for so long. Now, did you catch all the similarities to the cross? Abraham sacrificed his son (not literally), just as God sacrificed Jesus. He rose again, technically Isaac never died, but he was dead to his father for a short time. What about the fact that Isaac isn’t mentioned by name anymore? The important part is when he is mentioned again. Isaac is not mentioned again until he gets married in chapter 24, several years after chapter 22. Ok, so why is that significant? Because that is the last picture we get of Christ in this story. After he was sacrificed he didn’t come back again until he was ready to receive his bride. Just like Christ. Don’t believer me? Check it out for yourself.