Sacrifice of Isaac

Sacrifice of Isaac is a story of obedience.
In obedience Abraham stands foremost to any other character in the Bible except Jesus.
This story presents the sacrifice of his beloved son to prove his faith and obedience.

This is not the first time Abraham obeying God’s commands.
While he was living with his father and other family members in his home town, Ur, he was called by God to move out to another promised land.
He immediately obeyed.

Abraham was a worshipper of Yahweh.
This is very important in the ancient society.
Perhaps Abraham was the only worshipper of Yahweh during that time.

Worshipping Yahweh existed from the time of Adam itself, since Yahweh the Lord is the creator of the world and everything that exists in it.
Adam also was created by God.
That means Adam was not a self originated or self evolved living being, but a created human being.
Adam had the rare opportunity to see God face to face, speak with Him and commune with Him every day.
But later that sweet relationship broke because of Adam’s disobedience to the commands of God.

From Adam the knowledge about this creator and the necessity to worship Him through sacrifices might have passed on to his children and their descendants.
But unfortunately man left Yahweh for many other gentile deities.

During the time of Noah, God intervened in human history to punish the ungodly people.
There God found only Noah and his family worshipping Him.
God chose Noah to proclaim the gospel of salvation based on faith to the world.
And it is believed that Noah preached for 120 years, but none accepted Yahweh as their God.
So finally God saved Noah and his family from the worldwide flood and all human beings on earth at that time were drowned.

That means during the time of Noah, the worship of Yahweh narrowed to a single person or at the most to a small family of 8 people.
But there was not a time when Yahweh was not worshipped by any one on earth.
That means the worship of Yahweh was never wiped out from the earth since the creation.
There was always a remnant who worshiped Yahweh the Lord.

Thus we may assume that during the time of Abraham there was only one person who worshipped Yahweh the Lord.
That was Abraham.
So God chose Abraham to create a nation for Him.

In Genesis chapter 12 God calls Abraham to go out of his country to the Promised Land.
Here God enters into a covenant relationship with Abraham.
Abraham is promised of more than one blessing, among them was a great nation.

Genesis 12:1 - 3
1     Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.
 2    I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
 3    I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."         (NKJV)

Abraham believed in this covenant and started his journey to the Promised Land.
This is the first quoted incident of Abraham obeying God in faith.

But Abraham was without a son.
God’s promise was to make him a nation.
The covenant was repeated with more details in Genesis chapter 15 and chapter 17.

And as a partial fulfillment of the covenantal blessing Abraham begot a son at the age of 100.
Abraham believed that this is the descendant in whom the covenantal promise of nation would be fulfilled.

The Sacrifice

Then the great happening occurred.
One day God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac at the mountain top.
Bible says that Yahweh the Lord was testing Abraham.

Genesis 22 : 1, 2
1    Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
 2   Then He said, "Take now 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."  (NKJV)

Now here we are with the question: what did God test?
What was really put to test?
Or what do you mean by God tested Abraham?

To the question we have more than one answer.
But what is the precise answer?

Let us go to a precise answer.
Here are some options for us to choose.
We may say that:

·     God was testing Abraham’s faith in Yahweh the Lord
·     God was testing the obedience of Abraham even the sacrifice of Isaac.
·     God was testing the Abraham’s faith in the covenant between God and him.
·     God was testing Abraham’s faith in particular covenantal blessing.

All these are correct answers; but the last is the precise answer.
God was testing Abraham's faith in a particular covenantal blessing.

What was that particular covenantal blessing?

God offered four covenantal blessings to Abraham in Genesis 12.

1.       A good land (v. 1)
2.      A great nation, a great name, and great blessing that will extend first to him (v. 2)
3.      Divine protection (v.3)
4.      Great blessings to all the families on the earth (v. 3)

And God decided to test his faith in the covenantal blessing that Abraham will become a great nation.

Now a nation is not single person; it is not a single family of father, mother and a son.
It contained the promise of a community of people under one King.
Faith in this covenantal blessing was necessary for creating a community out of Abraham through which God can fulfill His plan of redemption of mankind.

That is the important thing for God.
God called Abraham because he worshipped Yahweh the Lord, with the purpose of redeeming human beings from the slavery of the kingdom of darkness.
God’s final motive was not just to give some material blessings for a worshipper, but to fulfill his eternal plan of redemption.

Abraham knew it. That is why Abraham lived in tents looking forward to the heavenly city that God Himself would create.

Hebrews 11:9, 10
9    By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  (NKJV)

This is the answer to the question why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son.
God wanted proven faith in the covenantal blessing about the nation that will come from Abraham.
And this nation will consist of redeemed human beings.

Redemption and Sacrifice

God’s redemption plan started operation from the Garden of Eden where He killed an animal, shed the blood of the animal and covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve with the blood soaked skin of the animal.
What really happened was that God covered the sin of Adam and Eve with the blood of a sacrificial animal.

So, in redemption, there is covering the sin with the blood of a sacrificial animal
Redemption is reconciliation of man with God by covering the sin forever with the blood of a sacrifice.
Redeemed community of God is a community of people whose sins are not exposed to God because of the blood of a sacrificed animal.
The covenantal promise of nation is the Kingdom of God inherited by the redeemed multitude of people.

This is the mystery behind the sacrifice of Isaac.

Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son.
And Abraham believed in the covenantal promise that he will become a great nation.
So Abraham set forth to obey Yahweh the Lord who is the originator and obligator of the covenant.
It is God’s obligation to fulfill the covenant promise; Abraham's part is to trust God.

Thus the whole story narrows to Abraham's faith in the covenant promise of a nation of redeemed people.
This faith is put to test.
This test proclaims that the entry pass to the nation of redeemed people is faith
Without faith none is permitted to inherit this nation.

This is what exactly the Kingdom of God present.
It is the Kingdom where God is the King and the redeemed mankind is the citizen.
Faith in the sacrifice for the redemption is the only entry pass to the Kingdom.

Abraham knew this plan of God, though we are not sure how far he could see into the seed of time.
Abraham knew that whatever he attained in this world was not the ultimate purpose of his life and call.
He has to inherit a Kingdom created by God Himself.
That is what we read in Hebrews 11.

The Foreknowledge of Abraham

Along with this let us read that Abraham knew that the sacrifice of Isaac is not the required sacrifice of blood that could redeem human beings from sin.
Sin is a greater subject for a human being to solve.

On the third day of his journey with his son and servants to the place of sacrifice, it is said that Abraham saw the place at far.

Genesis 22:4  Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.   (NKJV)

We feel that Abraham saw not only the Mount Moriah far off but saw the crucifixion of Christ at far off.
Could Abraham foresee the crucifixion of Christ?
The answer is “Yes”.
Abraham during his life saw even beyond the crucifixion of Christ.
He saw far into the eternity the Kingdom of God itself.
Let us read the following passage:

Hebrews 11:13  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  (NKJV)

The word embraced in Greek is <aspazoma> “to enfold in the arms.”
Only by implication it means: to salute and figuratively it means to welcome, embrace, greet, salute, take leave.

So we understand that Abraham saw the celestial city built by God Himself afar off and lived on this earth enfolding in arms that heavenly city.
That means the eschatological heavenly city was not an idea but a truth that he saw and experienced in his everyday life.

Abraham could see far into the redemptive plan and saw Jesus.

John 8 : 56  "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."   (NKJV)

What does this sentence spoken by our Lord Jesus mean?
Let study this verse along with the verse above.

Abraham understood the covenantal promise of a great nation and blessing to all nations.
Abraham looked beyond the Isaac and saw Jesus in his family line, as his descendant.
And Abraham desired to see the promise fulfilled in Jesus.

Though Abraham was not permitted to live to see the times of the Messiah, yet he was permitted to have a prophetic view of the seed through whom the promise will be fulfilled.

Abraham was permitted to have a view of the death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for sin.
The sacrifice of Isaac was only a representation of the coming great event.

He knew that God would arrange another sacrifice of innocent blood to make the redemption possible.
So he told his son to his query about the sacrificial lamb that:

Genesis 22:8  And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.  (NKJV)

What do you get?
Please read the passage once again:

Genesis 22:8  ….. God will provide for Himself the lamb  …..  (NKJV)

Abraham assures his son by faith that God will provide Himself the lamb.
Surely Abraham is not talking about an animal he may find on the top of the hill to sacrifice instead of Isaac, but he spoke of something beyond that.

Again we read in Genesis 22:14

Genesis 22:14  And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide (Jehovahjireh); as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided."   (NKJV)

The verse means, God would provide a victim, and in due time an offering would be made for the world.

Abraham looked beyond the horizon and saw the cross on the mount.
And historians say that Jesus the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world was sacrificed in this region of the mountain.

Again we read Abraham telling his servants as they reached the bottom of the mount Moriah to wait there and that they – the father and son – would go up, do the sacrifice and they – the father and the son – would return:

Genesis 22:5   And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."   (NKJV)

What does that mean?
Abraham saw far off that it is not Isaac who is sacrificed for the redemption of humankind.
Abraham saw Jesus, the cross and the Kingdom of God.
Abraham had faith in what he could see beyond.

And God tested this faith of Abraham in the covenantal promise about a great nation and descendents as stars.


Let us read a passage recorded in Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11:17 - 19
17  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
 18 of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called,"
 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.   (NKJV)

Hebrews chapter 11 is a hall of fame of those who performed extra ordinary faith in Yahweh the Lord.
The passage here speaks of what Abraham did by faith.

By faith Abraham sacrificed his only son Isaac.
That is true. That is what God intended Abraham to do.
Not a real sacrifice of Isaac, but a sacrifice of Isaac by faith.
Because the real sacrifice comes many years afterwards on the cross.
God expected an action of faith from Abraham.

Here the writer of Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Spirit is cleverly integrating faith and the real sacrifice of Jesus.
Abraham sacrificed Isaac by faith hoping the real sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

How we can join the sacrifice of Jesus as atonement for human sins?
By faith; no other way.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!   (NKJV)

Jesus is the real sacrificial Lamb of God.
He was sacrificed on the cross on the mountain.
Faith in His sacrifice is the only way for redemption and inheritance of the Kingdom of God.


No comments:

Post a Comment