The Biblical account of Abraham and his “temptation” is often misunderstood by believers and non-believers alike. Once it is understood, it is easy to see how that chapter – Genesis 22 – fits in perfectly with the overall theme of the Bible.
Genesis 22 begins with revealing God presenting a temptation (or, test) to Abraham. The test, as you know, was to offer Isaac, Abraham’s only son, as a sacrifice on a specific mountain.
We see that Abraham, this faithful servant of God, obeyed God immediately, and headed out early the next morning toward the mountain with fire, wood, Isaac, and a few other people. On the way, Isaac asks his father about the missing sacrifice.
In response, Abraham gives to his son one of the greatest prophecies of Christ’s coming found in the Old Testament. In Genesis 22:8, Abraham says: “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”
After arriving at the place God told him of, Abraham starts to build an altar. He makes it out of natural rock, and lays the wood on top. Then puts Isaac on top of it and prepares to slay him.
As he lifts his hand to slay his son, the angel appears and stops Abraham from fulfilling the act, and reveals that there is a ram caught in the bush behind him. Abraham then offers the ram instead.
This true account of an event in the life of Abraham perfectly pictures what Christ would one day do for us. God would send His Son one day – His only begotten and beloved Son – and would make Him a Sacrifice.
The altar was not glorious – it was made of raw and uncut rocks. No tool was laid on them. There was nothing fancy about it – just like there is nothing fancy about the way Christ died. In fact, it was considered shameful to die on a cross because this method was reserved for the worst of criminals. It is not the value of the cross that matters, but the worth of the One Who died for us on that cross. No work of man can add anything to Him or to the salvation He provides to us.
The Book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac up again (Hebrews 11:17-19). Again, it is symbolic of the fact that God the Father would slay the son – and then raise Him again. Christ did not go to the Cross by accident, or because God’s plans went wrong. Instead, it was God Who put Christ there, as we read in Acts 2:23: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” God’s plan put Christ there, and it was to pay for all our sins.
As far as we can tell, Isaac went to the sacrifice without a word of complaint – like Christ the Lamb of God. As Isaac carried the wood to consume the sacrifice, so Christ also carried the Cross which would consume His human body.
Let’s take another look at the prophecy that Abraham gave to his son Isaac. Abraham said: “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”
Many people today wonder Who the Sacrifice really was. Some say that Christ was a Teacher, others say a Prophet, some say a religious leader, or a good man. The prophecy says that “God will provide himself.” Do you see it? When God needed a perfect Sacrifice, no human would do. Instead, He came “Himself” to be our Sacrifice to pay a debt we could never pay. What love!
Do you know Him as your personal Sacrifice for your sin? Consider afresh that well-known promise of salvation in 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.”
God never intended for Abraham to really sacrifice his son. Instead, He only wanted to create a picture of it so that a great truth about it could be given to us. Today, we have the full story. God really has come in the flesh and gave Himself for us.
Abraham also gave another prophecy in Genesis 22:14. In that verse, we read: “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.” Here we see that Abraham calls God by a Name which means: God the Provider. Where will God provide this Sacrifice? – “In the mount of the Lord.” This mount, of course, referred to where Christ would actually become the Sacrifice for us – and this was the very place Abraham stood at that moment.
Do you know the One Who willingly died for you on the Cross? He loves you and paid for your sins. Will you receive His gift of pardon for sin? If so, call on Him now in prayer and ask Him to save you today!
If you have more questions about salvation and why Christ needed to die, follow this link to learn more.