Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of’ Genesis 22:2
“Behold! the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
In our studies in Genesis, we have explored many wonderful and important stories about the prophet of God,
We now come to the most significant lesson from the life of Abraham: the true story of Abraham’s sacrifice and
what it means.
In our last lesson, we learned how God gave Abraham and Sarah a child in their old age, thus fulfilling what He had promised long before. Their son’s name was
God had promised Abraham that, through the descendants of Isaac, He would bring forth a new nation, through which all the nations of the world would be blessed. We also saw how Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, left Abraham’s household, and went to live in the land of Egypt. Thus, only Isaac remained at home,
the one born according to God’s promise.
One day God asked Abraham to do an astonishing and difficult thing. In Genesis 22:1-2 it says, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did test Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son,
thine only son Isaac,
whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” What!? What was God asking of Abraham? He was commanding Abraham to take his beloved son to a far away mountain, and offer him as a burnt sacrifice!
Abraham had waited for twenty-five long years to have the son which God had promised him, and now God is telling him to slay his son as a sacrifice!
How did Abraham answer God?
Did he argue with the words of God because they were difficult to accept? The Scripture says:
(Gen. 22:3) “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his young ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and cut the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him”.
For three days,
Abraham and his son and two servants walked and walked and walked, heading toward the mountain of which God had spoken. Abraham’s heart was ready to break as he neared that fearful place where he would have to slay his beloved son and sacrifice him! Of course, we who are reading the story today know that God was only testing Abraham’s faith, but
Abraham didn’t know that!
What God had asked of him was a terrible and painful trial!
Next the Scriptures say: (Gen. 22:4-14) “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spoke unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but
where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son,
for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid wood in order, and bound Isaac, his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said,
Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything 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 bush by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place
as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen”. This story is very important and deserves an explanation. The story of Abraham’s sacrifice has three sides: a historical side, a symbolic side and a prophetic side. In other words, to understand Abraham’s sacrifice, we need to understand three things:
1) What took place,
2) what the sacrifice symbolised or what it pictured, and
3) what Abraham prophesied concerning an event that was yet to take place.
the historical side,
we have read today how God tested Abraham’s faith and saved his son from death by means of a sacrificial ram. This happened about four thousand years ago in the place where Jerusalem is located today. That, in short, is the “historical” side of the story of Abraham’s sacrifice.
the symbolic side
of the story, God’s Word tells us that we are all like Abraham’s son. We read that God, in His justice, condemned Abraham’s son to death. We too are all condemned sinners and deserve God’s judgement. But we also read how God, in His grace, saved Abraham’s son from death. Similarly, God, in His grace, has come to our rescue in providing a means by which we can be saved.
The story of Abraham’s sacrifice teaches us that the way of salvation established by God is the way of the Perfect Sacrifice.
In today’s story, we saw how God provided a ram (sheep) to die in the place of Abraham’s son. Only the horns of the sheep were caught in the bush; the sheep’s skin was not torn. If the sheep had a single defect, it could not have replaced Abraham’s son on the altar. But the sacrifice which God provided was a perfect sheep,
In our study in the first chapters of Genesis, we learned about the way of salvation which God established. Do you remember what that way was? After Adam and Eve sinned, God decreed that, since the payment for sin is death, there could be no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. Thus, all who wanted to have their sins forgiven were required to take an animal without blemish, slay it, and present it to God as a burnt offering.
The innocent animal had to die in the place of the guilty person.
This was the only way by which God could forgive the sins of the sons of Adam, and still remain righteous.
Something else we must remember is this: The Scriptures say that sacrificial animals were merely “having a shadow of good things to come and not the image of the things – for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:1,4) The blood of an animal cannot be the payment of sin forever because
the value of an animal is not equal to that of a human.
Thus, we learn that the sheep which replaced Abraham’s son on the altar was an illustration of a greater, more perfect sacrifice. The Word of God shows us that the sheep which died in the place of Abraham’s son was a symbol or a picture of the holy Redeemer who was to come into the world and die for all sinners, so that God could forgive everyone who believes in Him. In short, this is what Abraham’s sacrificial sheep pictures.
It is an illustration of the Saviour
whom God promised to send into the world to save sinners from His righteous judgment!
the prophetic side
of the story, do you remember what Abraham said to his son as they were climbing the mountain? He told him: “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.” And do you remember what Abraham announced after he had slain the ram, and burned it in place of his son? He called the place of sacrifice:
“The LORD will provide.”
And the prophet Moses, who wrote this book, adds: “And to this day it is said: ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided!’” What was the reason for this? Why did the prophet Abraham say, “The LORD will provide”? Why did he not say, “Praise be to God! The Lord has provided a sacrifice!”? Friends, this is a question of tremendous importance, because the answer to it contains the Good News of God’s Word, which each of us must understand and believe!
Why did Abraham call the place “The LORD will provide”?
This is why:
Abraham was announcing an event that was yet to take place on those same mountains where the sheep had replaced his son on the altar. In short, Abraham was declaring: “I praise God, because he has provided a sheep to replace my son on the altar. However, I am telling you that one day,
on this same mountain,
God will provide another sacrifice which will be far greater than the ram which saved my son today from the knife and the fire. Yes, the Sacrifice which God will provide shall have the power to save the children of Adam from eternal death in the fire which never goes out!
God will send down a holy Redeemer who will die as a sacrifice,
the innocent for the guilty,
so that whoever believes in Him will not perish!” This is the Good News for all people which Abraham was announcing when he said, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice!”
Before we conclude the story of “Abraham’s sacrifice”, each of us needs to know that, appro-ximately two thousand years after Abraham prophesied that God would provide a Sacrifice for sinners,
We cannot say much about it now, but those of you who know the Gospel, know the story of the Redeemer. You know that He was born of a virgin woman who belonged to the family line of Abraham and Isaac,
just as God had promised.
The Redeemer who was to die in the place of sinners had no earthly father. He came from heaven, and thus, did not inherit Adam’s sinful nature.
He had no sin;
He had no blemish. That is why He was worthy to die as the Perfect Sacrifice; as a substitute for the guilty children of Adam!
When we come to the Gospel, we will learn that this Saviour’s name is Jesus. The name Jesus means
When we come to the Gospel Writings, we will read how there was a prophet named John whom God sent to prepare the way before Jesus the Redeemer. One day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold! the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Why did the prophet John call Jesus “the Lamb of God”? Because Jesus was born to shed His blood as a sacrifice which takes away sin. Like the sheep that died in the place of Abraham’s son,
the Redeemer came to die for all of Adam’s descendants.
Jesus is the perfect and final Sacrifice of whom Abraham prophesied when he said: “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”
In the Gospel we will read how Jesus willingly delivered Himself up to his enemies, and how they nailed Him to a cross. Jesus the Redeemer, whom God provided, fulfilled the prophetic and the symbolic meaning of Abraham’s sacrificial sheep. That is why, just before Jesus died, He cried out,
“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
three days later,
God confirmed the perfection and power of the Redeemer’s sacrifice by raising Him from the dead! Jesus is the One who perfectly fulfilled the meaning of Abraham’s sacrifice. And did you know that the location where Jesus died in the place of sinners was in the same mountains where Abraham slaughtered the sheep in place of his son? Do you know the location of those two sacrifices? Yes,
it is Jerusalem.
Dear student, whoever you are, wherever you are, God is commanding you to turn from your wrong ideas and useless works, and place your hope completely in the perfect and final Sacrifice that He has provided. For the Scriptures say:
“[Jesus the Redeemer] bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24)
In this lesson we saw that Abraham’s son accepted the sacrifice which God provided for him.
How about you?
Have you accepted the Sacrifice which God has provided for you?
God bless you as you carefully consider the meaning behind the Redeemer’s final words on the cross, when He cried,
“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have