After these things, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 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.” 3 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. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 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. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So, they went both of them together.
9 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. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 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. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:1-14 ESV)
Yesterday we focused on God’s covenantal promises to Abraham, which included descendants of Abraham being the instrument of God’s blessing to the world. There was one problem with that promise – Abraham was 99 years old, and his wife, Sarah, was 90 and well past childbearing when the promise of Genesis 15 was given. They had no children. How could their descendants bless the world if there were no descendants?
God miraculously gave this couple a son, Isaac, the “son of promise.” Now, in Genesis 22, God makes a strange demand to Abraham – “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.” The question now is like the first. How can Abraham’s future descendants bring God’s blessing to the whole world if the only direct descendant of Abraham is killed? And how could a father sacrifice his beloved son?
Abraham must have struggled with these questions, but being a man of faith and trust in his Heavenly Father, he obeys. Isaac dutifully carries the wood for his sacrifice up a mountain and is placed on the altar of sacrifice. Abraham takes his knife to sacrifice his son, but before he plunges it into Isaac’s heart, God stops him and provides a ram to be sacrificed as a substitute for Isaac. What a gripping story! What an incredible ending! What faith Abraham displayed? What love the Heavenly Father exhibited!
About 2,200 years after this event, another Father sent His Son to carry wood up this very same mountain for the sacrifice of His Son. This time, God did not cry out, “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” because this Son, God’s only begotten Son, was the substitute sacrifice. Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” died in our place, taking the penalty we deserved to pay because of our transgression against the Giver of Life. What an incredible ending! How could a Father sacrifice His Beloved Son? He did so, and Jesus obeyed, so we could also become sons of the Father.