So far, we have seen the introduction of the sacrificial system as given to Adam and Eve. We then analyzed some details from the account of Cain and Abel. Although there is an example of Noah performing a burnt offering unto the Lord after the flood, I would like to skip to another story that brings out some beautiful meaning to this religious service.
I would like us to have a look at the story of Abraham and Issac. To get the full impact, we need to start back in Genesis chapter 15. At this time in history, a male heir to carry on your family name was considered almost essential. Here we see the story of an aging man who was still childless. Abraham had lost hope that he would ever have a son that would succeed him. But then, from the Creator of the universe, comes the following promise.
“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”Genesis 15:1-5
I’m sure Abraham wondered how this could be. His wife was beyond the years of childbearing. It would take nothing short of a miracle. But, regardless of the seeming impossibilities, “he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6
Time passed, and still, no son was born. It had been many years since God had given the promise, and they were both elderly now. Abraham was nearly 100, and his wife was 90 years old. But, God again appeared to Abraham and reiterated the promise. Abraham laughing presented the question, shall my wife, who is 90, bear a child? God’s response came Sarah, your wife, will have a son.
Just as God had promised, Sarah became pregnant, and a healthy young boy was born into the family. His name was called Issac. He was the promised child, and God would make a mighty nation through him.
We must now skip past the many pleasant years they must have spent together. Issac had become a young man. Soon he would need to marry and start a family of his own. After all, he was the promised son.
One night, to Abraham’s horror, God commanded that he go to the land of Moriah and present Issac as a sacrifice. How could the promised seed become a burnt offering? No, this could not be true. God would never require such a thing. But after some struggling in his heart, he knew this was God. He decided to put his complete trust in Him and obey.
It may seem strange that God would ask Abraham to do such a terrible thing. But God had a great purpose for this exercise of faith. God was about to reveal to the human race the most beautiful revelation of His love towards us.
For three terrible days, they journeyed to the place God pointed out to Abraham. Oh, what an awful struggle must have happened in his mind. He knew the fate that awaited his only son. I’m sure that there were moments where Issac would look at Abraham with love and trust, only to drive the knife deeper into this father’s tender heart.
On the third day, Abraham spotted the place that God had shown him. He told his trusted servants to wait behind. Issac placed the wood on his shoulders while his elderly father grabbed the fire and knife. “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Said Issac. Genesis 22:7
Again these words cut deep into his father’s heart. Not yet. It was not time to tell Issac yet. Prophetically Abraham pronounced the following promise.
“My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”Genesis 22:8
Finally, the time came. Abraham had to break the sad news to his son. Issac, who was a strong young man, could have easily overpowered his elderly father. But, instead of resisting, he willingly allowed himself to be bound and laid upon the altar. Now it was up to Abraham to make the final blow upon his son. With trembling hands, he raised the knife. But, before he could go any further, a voice called to him.
“Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”Genesis 22:12,13
Do you see the lesson God is trying to teach us, friends? Issac represented Jesus, while Abraham represented God the Father.
Jesus was a willing sacrifice. All the men in the world combined with all the hosts of Satan could have no power over the Creator. He had to be a willing sacrifice. And He was! He chose to suffer the penalty of sin so that we could spend eternity with Him.
But the parallel does not end there. Abraham was a representation of our Heavenly Father. As a father myself, I could never even imagine sitting back and letting my child die. Knowing that I could have done something to prevent it would eat me up inside. But it was even worse than this. He didn’t merely have to withdraw His help from Jesus. He had to lay the death blow to His son. Jesus Christ had to bear all the sins of the world, and sin cannot exist in the presence of the Father.
It was the Father’s wrath against sin, the terrible separation from His Father, and a broken heart that killed our Lord. Do you see God’s love for each one of us? Not only does Jesus love us with everlasting love, but so does the Father. He had to go through that terrible struggle for you and me. He had to do the hardest thing that anyone could imagine. He had to suffer as He watched His Son perish. For me, this brings new meaning to this famous Bible promise.
“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.”John 3:16
I hope this has been a blessing to you dear reader. Please join me next time as we continue our journey through this subject.
Written by Cory Lamming