Alfred Place Baptist Church

Faith's Supreme Test and Triumph

Genesis 22:1-19 “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham! ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’ . . .

 

Let me point out to you be way of introduction a number of things.

i] Notice first of all the time of this trial, it was “Some time later.” In other words, after all these trials, disappointments and difficulties that Abraham had endured that have been described to us in these previous chapters. Then God spoke to him again. They had certainly been long peaceful years when Abraham had begun to think that perhaps all the storms and testings ordained by God had come to an end. What a life Abraham had led; as Don Fortner has observed, “He’d left his home and family, buried his father, endured family strife, waited twenty-five years for God to fulfil his promise in giving him a son, had been required to cast his firstborn son, Ishmael, out of his house, and much more. Now Abraham must have been thinking to himself after all he’d gone through, ‘The worst is over. Now I shall live in peace. Ishmael is gone. Hagar is gone. Lot is gone. I have just Sarah and Isaac. All is well.’ But it was not so” (Don Fortner, Discovering Christ in Genesis, Evangelical Press, 2002, p.222). But, “some time later God tested Abraham” (v.1). We do not know what tests await all of us, but we do know that God’s grace is sufficient for every test.

 

ii] Then notice also the one who tested Abraham that it was not Satan. It was the familiar and loving one who called out to him, “Abraham!” It was the God who had given him that name who was calling him; it meant “father of a multitude.” It was the name that tied him to his son Isaac. How could he bear that name “father of a multitude” without Isaac? Isaac was the seal of his father’s faith and the son of his father’s love; he was the means of the multitude appearing. Yet here was God unmistakably meeting with Abraham and testing him concerning this very relationship, making an earth-shattering demand; “God tested Abraham” (v.1). So it was the living God who brought this trial upon Abraham.

 

There was a book, ‘Children’s Stories from the Bible’, published in Welsh here in Aberystwyth some years ago, and the authors’ interpretation of this incident was, “Abraham thought that God wanted him to sacrifice his son,” hinting that the patriarch was mistaken. But there was no mistake. God did test Abraham with such a commandment. What are we learning here? That our trials always come from our heavenly Father. No trial is permitted by him to touch us without his approval. You remember all the restraints put on Satan’s testing of Job. We must always go back to the First Cause. Our trials are brought upon us by God, not by karma, and so they have a purpose that has been designed by God. The purpose involves proving and improving our trust in the Lord. Our trials, in fact, are to reveal the Lord to us and make him more precious. So let us look at the nature of this testing.

 

1. GOD COMMANDED ABRAHAM TO TAKE AND SACRIFICE HIS SON ISAAC.

 

Take your son . . . Sacrifice him . . . as a burnt offering . . .” (v.3). The words were very clear. There was no breakdown in communication between God and Abraham. He was not confused concerning the content of the request God had made. God tested Abraham with this heart-breaking command. Surely Abraham thought, “How can this be?” Anything else but Isaac.  Common sense would tell Abraham that God could not be requiring this. A father’s affection for his son would say to him that his heavenly Father would not ask him for this. A lifelong vision of a vast progeny nurtured by God would be telling Abraham that God could not be demanding the sacrifice of his son. Respect for the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” would assure Abraham that the killing of Isaac by his hand could not be God’s will. But what are all such arguments when God is speaking to you and his words are transparent? Here is G
od testing Abraham, and the command is spectacularly clear, “Take your son . . . sacrifice him . . . as a burnt offering . . .” (v.3).

 

Then the demand is spelled out like this; “Please take your son.” That is how it is written in the original. There is nothing dictatorial about God’s approach. Abraham is not intimidated into doing God’s will to save his own skin from a bullying Jehovah, “You’d better do this or I’ll slay you . . .” No. There is nothing like that, rather it is a request. “Please Abraham, if you believe that my promises are true and that everything that I ask is right then I am going to ask you to do one more thing . . . to take your son and sacrifice him!” God knows what he is asking him to do. He has come in the past with great demands to Abraham, “Leave your country . . . leave your homeland . . . leave your father’s house . . .” Each command gets more searching and difficult and grievous than the one before, but now there is this . . . “Take your son . . . The one who is the fruit of your loins, a child of your own flesh – he is the one I am asking for.” Who could do that to his child? “Your only son,” God calls him because he has sent the other son away. Abraham has cast him out and he did this with grief but in obedience to God. So there is no other son. There is no one he can summon from the substitutes’ bench if Isaac is to die. All his eggs are in this basket. God did not slip in the words, “Abraham . . . just testing . . . nothing bad will happen that I won’t fix and make things better than they are. It will all work out. Just trust me. I won’t make you go through with this.” No. Abraham seems to have already reached the end of the road with Isaac.

 

Are you Christians beginning to see this incident in the light of the coming of God’s only begotten Son sent by the most loving of Fathers? I am saying that this whole incident is meaningless without Jesus climbing Golgotha at the request of his Father. Don’t you believe all that Moses and the prophets spoke? Ought not Christ have suffered such things and entered into his glory? “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love . . .” (v.2). In other words, that Abraham could have obeyed God immediately without any challenge was not due to any lack of love for Isaac. How he loved his darling little boy! He was his delight and daily joy, his beloved son. I am saying that we see Christ here, the one of whom his Father spoke, “This is my beloved Son . . . I really love everything about him.”

 

Yet here is the command in all its stark horror; “Go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (v.2). Isaac is not going to see maturity; he is not going to die in bed surrounded by his loved ones. He is to be taken up a lonely mountain and slaughtered. Then his corpse is to be consumed with fire, utterly burnt to ashes so that the smoke rises to God. Please do not become barrenly familiar with any of the Scriptures. Do not allow yourself merely to nod sagely at this horror. We know this story and its outcome so well that it has lost its emotional impact. God forbid! Hear it as Abraham heard it that day when God met him, and then never underestimate the trust of Abraham in doing just what God required. I fear that we will then begin to underestimate the goodness of God in giving his Son in exactly the same manner. Would we butcher a stranger we met one dark night as we walked about the town? Would we kill someone who was not a member of our family? What if God pointed out a person to you and said. “Cut his throat without asking any questions.” Could you do it to someone else’s child? But what if you had but one child? How could you cause him harm? Could you bind your only son hand and foot, and slit his throat and watch the blood pour out as long as his pumping heart continued to beat, and then, when he was dead, cover the body with wood and set it on fire and burn and burn it until there was nothing left to be consumed, nothing left for you to embrace but dust and ashes?

 

Later Israel would be told by God that because of their sin they must offer to God a ram as a burnt offering. The priest would lay his hand on its head and slaughter it, so symbolically confessing himself worthy of death but transferring his guilt and the sin of the people to the ram. So Abraham is learning of his guilt in God’s eyes and in order to be God’s friend and receive God’s blessing his sin must be removed and transferred to another. But the ram was a mere type, a picture, a symbol of Another who was yet to come, but who would come, the promised One, a man, a prepared man, one in whom dwelt all the fulness of the godhead bodily, one without sin. Abraham the man had sinned so a man must pay for the sin. Certainly without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. That is the nature of God. Where on earth will such a man be found? Where will a sinless man appear? Where is there a man who is also infinite, eternal and divine? Without such a man who will redeem us? Where will Abraham and Isaac and all of us find redemption from the just judgment that is coming to us? Especially if Isaac dies on Moriah at the hand of his father then where will we look for the Deliverer, the Seed of the woman? How can Abraham’s offspring be as numerous as the sands on the shore when he lacks a single son? How can all the nations of the earth be blessed if Isaac be dead? The hope of the world is about to destroyed. How then will God fulfill his promises?

 

Put your trust in the Lord! Abraham is our example. He trusts in God. He believes in the power of God to raise the dead, and he is also being taught the way of the cross, those two great lessons. How were the disciples comforted when Christ was killed? We don’t know if one of them said or even thought, “Brothers, remember when God required Isaac to be sacrificed by our father Abraham, how all Abraham’s hopes had been in his son, as ours had been in the Lord Jesus. Nevertheless God required that Isaac be sacrificed, and Abraham did what God required. He offered his son believing that God could raise the dead. Couldn’t God raise the Christ from the dead? Why should he let his holy one see corruption? Didn’t our Lord say to us often that he would rise on the third day?” If none of them said or even thought that immediately then later on they did say that and preached it, and this incident in Genesis 22 should have helped them mightily. How it helps us whenever we are asked to give to God our precious things, our gathered gold and life’s brightest hours. We can say, “How can I keep one precious thing from Thee when Thou has given Thine own dear self for me?” Let us cling only to God and his promises. If Abraham 2,000 years before the coming of Jesus Christ did not doubt
but obeyed then how much more must we, 2,000 years after the appearance of our great God and Saviour, and his triumph over sin, darkness and the grave, trust in the Saviour?

 

But then I want you to see God’s exquisite pastoral wisdom in dealing with Abraham. God’s methodology is to incorporate delay into his plan. How often does God do this! “My soul, wait on the Lord!” he says. What great things have happened in our lives and all have come after God’s delay. “Slow down and look to me,” God says again and again. He doesn’t say, “Abraham! Get the knife and do this now!” He does not provoke some impetuous passionate response as if Abraham fears that he’ll do nothing if he is has time to ponder on what he must do. No. Abraham must wait on God and think. God says, “Head for the region of Moriah.” That was a fair journey from Beesheba. It is the place that later would be called Jerusalem where there is a green hill far away where the dear Lord was crucified. Abraham is taking his son where God took his Son, to that place where Christ was nailed to the cross. God gives Abraham much time to realise what he is about to do. The devil will come and tempt him as he tempted the Christ in the wilderness, and Abraham must overcome those temptations by trusting in the word of God as Christ the Seed one day also would.

 

One of my teachers imagined the protest that comes from someone listening to this requirement of God to sacrifice Isaac; “‘Well, I know that this is one of those Bible-preaching churches, and you did read the story out of the Bible. But that’s why I have trouble believing the Bible – and especially the Old Testament. Here is a story where God commands a father to murder his son by slitting his throat. If Abraham were hauled into a court, he would plead that a voice from heaven told him to do it. Do you want me to worship a God who commands human sacrifice?’” Then my late beloved teacher replies, “Actually this story would be as shocking to believing Israelites as it is to us today. One of the great differences between Israel and the heathen nations around them was that God forbade human sacrifice. In ancient Canaan, Molech, the god of the Ammonites, was worshipped by offering children in the fire to him. For that crime, capital punishment was the penalty. Why then do we have here this strange exception to God’s law? . . . What we constantly forget is the justice of God . . . Jesus taught us that God is completely holy. We like to think that we are no worse than others, but we are all worse than Jesus, the only perfect righteous man who ever lived. He is the only one who can stand in the judgment. We’ve all sinned, and come short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one.

 

So “God has every right to condemn sinners to death. Indeed, when God judged the land of Egypt before the Exodus, he required the life of the firstborn sons of Israel as well as of Egypt. The oldest son, as representing the family, was doomed, but the Lord provided the Passover lamb as a substitute, marked by the blood on the doorpost. Later God continued to assert his claim on the firstborn. So the sacrifice of Isaac would have been like the later sacrifice of the Passover lamb. But the sacrifice of Isaac was not to be, for he was not a perfect offering, a lamb without spot; he could not pay the price of the sins of other. Abraham could not give the fruit of his body for the sin of his soul. God could and did require the sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham’s firstborn, just as later God threatened the firstborn of all Israel along with the Egyptians in the last of the plagues he brought on Egypt” (Edmund P. Clowney, Preaching Christ in All Scripture, Crossway, 2003, p.73).

 

2. ABRAHAM OBEYED GOD.

 

The story is remarkable in presenting us with a fully mature Abraham, one who has become strong in faith. We could take some of the New Testament language that describes such people, clothed in all the armour of God, full of the Holy Spirit, strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, living a life worthy of their calling, and so on. Abraham learned what God required and he complied immediately. He rose early in the morning, just as he had risen early to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. He heard this word concerning Isaac and he did not delay by a second in doing what God required. There was no divided heart; he had a single eye to the honour of God. There was no clinging to any alternative. Abraham knew that he was not wiser than the living God. He makes every preparation for the long journey to Moriah. He knows he will need more than one servant, plus a firepot and a knife. He ticks off his mental list. He will also need wood to consume Isaac’s corpse and we are told that “he cut enough for the burnt offering” (v.3). That is, he measured in his mind how much wood it would take to consume the body of his little boy. Every blow of his axe prepared him for the stroke of his knife on Isaac’s throat. Abraham takes the implements of his son’s destruction with him, but you will remember that our heavenly Father did the same – on a cosmic scale. He made the green hill on which the cross was set – maybe not a stone’s throw from where Isaac’s altar would be. He made the iron ore out of which nails and spear would be fashioned. He formed the tree out of whose wood the cross was made. For three days as the journeyed together his obedience was paced as the little boy danced along beside him. With every sunrise Abraham believed and adored. Extraordinary! But our heavenly Father planned the sacrifice of his Son for us, not over three days, not over three thousand days, but from eternity, before ever the world was, and he never thought of altering his purposes though it meant his Son’s agony and bloody sweat in Gethsemane and Golgotha.

 

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance” (v.4). Would any help come from this place? He was at the foot of the hill, but God was silent. From here the ascent was steep and they must proceed on foot. So he gives orders to the servants to stay in the valley with the donkey and wait while he and Isaac went on. Went on to do what? What explanation would Abraham give his servants? “We are going on to worship,” he tells them. What heart-rending worship it would mean for Abraham. He had never made an offering to God like this one before, and yet he trusted in God that the Lord could bring Isaac back even from the dead and fulfil all his promises concerning the seed of Abraham. So he says these life-affirming words to his servants “We will come back to you” (v.5). He could not imagine how but Abraham had seen God j
udge Sodom and Gomorrah, and turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, and restore fertility to the barren members of  king Abimelech’s house, and give a child to Sarah in her 90th year. He remembered the Lord once saying to him, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). So Abraham believed that the servants had not seen the last of Isaac. Men and women of the household of faith, we must also always believe and not faint. Whatever God does, when at times it makes our heart lose a beat, will God not make it right at the end? Will he not work it for our good? Will he not fulfil all his promises to every one of us?

 

So Abraham loads the wood to be used to consume the sacrifice onto his son’s young shoulders. He had once laid bread and water on the shoulders of the mother of his son Ishmael and sent her and his son away. Those were the means of Hagar and Ishmael’s life while the burdens he and Isaac carried were the implements of this boy’s death. Isaac trudges up the hill bearing his own cross. This is the wood on which he will be slain and by which his body will be consumed. Abraham takes with him his knife and the firepot, those instruments with which he will destroy his son and make him a holocaust. It is a prophetic portrait of God himself destroying his own Son on the cross and sparing him not, laying on him the iniquity of us all and consuming him in his majestic rectitude. So they went on together, father and son, so dearly loving one another, two companions.

 

Then God further tests Abraham’s resolve as heart-breakingly as it were possible to crack any father. The little boy, so intelligent and observant, pops up with a question for Daddy. But it is really God who is speaking through Isaac, testing Abraham even further. “My father,” he said. And just as Abraham had replied “Here I am” to God his Father, so now he replies to Isaac, “Yes, my son.” My son! How that twisted the knife in the broken heart, even now Abraham refuses to emotionally distance himself from his darling little boy, as he prepares for the inevitable. Will he survive this innocent question from his son whose name is ‘Laughter’? Will Abraham go on and do the will of God though it cost him everything? “‘The fire and the wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’” (v.7). What a melting word! It would strike deeper into the breast of Abraham than any knife thrust into the breast of Isaac. The boy doesn’t know that he is the lamb to be slain. He is as innocent and unsuspecting as a sacrificial lamb ought to be. He is being led as a sheep to the slaughter, knowing nothing of the terror ahead, never dreaming that his beloved father could ever hurt him. Yet he is perplexed as to where in the world they’re going to find a lamb on this barren mountain. “If we are here to make a sin offering, where is the lamb upon whose head we will place our sins Daddy, yours and mine? Who will die for our sins?”

 

God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (v.8). The great climax of that sentence are the words, “my son.” Is he saying, “Oh my son, God will provide the lamb”? Or is he saying, “God will provide the lamb which is my son”? The statement goes both ways quite deliberately. It shows us Abraham’s distress that his own son is the lamb to be slain for his sins, and also there are his longings that some other lamb will be provided by God than this his son!  I think of William Blake’s words:

 

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee;

He is called by thy name,

For he calls himself a Lamb:

He is meek and he is mild,

He became a little child:

I a child and thou a lamb.

We are called by his name.

 

Then the story slows down even more so that our suspense and terror grow. In this whole chapter we are never once told how Abraham felt. There is not an adverb in the entire section. We are simply told what Abraham did. His every action is recorded. He comes to the place of which God had spoken. There he builds an altar as Isaac watches him, perhaps even helping his father, picking up the small stones. Abraham arranges the wood on the altar so that he will be able to burn the holocaust. Then he turns to his dear child and he ties him up, not because he is afraid Isaac will escape, though the boy is strong and fast – he can carry that weight of wood up a steep hillside. Isaac could easily outpace a hundred and ten year old man. No, Isaac submits willingly as it begins to dawn on him that he is the sacrifice. He would not want to be the sacrifice; he would desire such a cup to pass from him, but he is bound tight by his own compliance. He does not wrestle with his father and cry, “Don’t! Please stop!” He loves his binding father as he loves his bound self. He submits to being laid out on the very altar which he’s helped to build, lying on top of the wood that he has carried there. He watches as his father takes out his knife.

 

Do we see anywhere else in Scripture the Father’s love for his Son portrayed so vividly? God is saying to us, “When you see my Son ascend Calvary don’t you dare think that you love him more than I do.” When you see Abraham’s hand raised to slay his son the Father is saying, “Don’t you think that I am some passive bystander witnessing from a distance the events of Golgotha. I am the one who has planned and prophesied and orchestrated all of this. I am the one with the knife in my hand, and that is there because the shedding of blood is absolutely necessary. A Lamb must die that you might be forgiven and live.” So the Father is showing us his deep, passionate, involvement in the death of his Son as the veil is drawn back on Abraham and Isaac.

 

So now is the moment; ‘It has come Abraham, the moment God told you about four or five days ago. The wages of your sin is death, and here it is to be tr
ansferred to another, even to your son Isaac. Here it is Isaac. Your sins deserve nothing less than death, for the soul that sins shall surely die, and the loving God is also a God of light in whom is no darkness at all.’ Here it is fellow sinners. We must all pay the wages of sin. One day your soul shall be required of you.

 

But what will happen to the hope of the world if this happens? How can all the nations of the earth be blessed if this happens? How can the Seed of the woman crush the head of the serpent if Isaac is about to be crushed? The Lord has promised the land to the seed of Abraham but if Isaac should die how can a dead man inherit anything? God has sworn that Abraham’s seed will possess the land. The Lord himself has passed through the avenue of cut up animals showing his steely-eyed determination that his word will be fulfilled. But now it is Isaac who is about to become a cut-up animal. He is the symbol of the wrath of God coming upon all covenant breakers. How can this happen? The covenant with Isaac is an everlasting covenant. God has told Abraham this, but now Isaac is about to die. As we have read these past ten chapters we have all waited these 25 years for the birth of Isaac. We waited as any earthly parents waited with their married child through the years when there was a failure to conceive, and we also rejoiced when the child was born. Shall we now see this longed for and loved child torn away from father and mother and the parents fall into their graves childless lacking any descendants? We were hoping that this is the one who would save his people. From this child the Christ was going to come, but the child is lying bound here with a naked blade about to be plunged into him.

 

3. GOD CALLED AGAIN FROM HEAVEN.

 

i] God spoke and prevented the sacrifice. “Abraham! Abraham!” Do you see the urgency in the name sounding over Moriah twice? The knife is in his hand to slay his son but the cry sounds out, “Abraham! Abraham!” because the God who sees everything now knows that Abraham fears him; “Now I know that you fear God” (v.12). It is the angel of the Lord who is calling; in other words it is the pre-incarnate Jesus who calls. Jesus who sees all the plans and all the heart-ache of father and son – he cries, “Do not lay a hand on the boy” because the hand of judgment must be laid on Jesus and not on Isaac. There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. “Abraham! Abraham!” and Abraham responds again immediately with the words, “Here I am” just as in the first verse when the command to slay Isaac was given. Abraham doesn’t say, “Just wait a minute! I have to do something that requires all my attention and he slashes with the knife.” No! The Lord speaks; Abraham drops everything to respond. “Here I am, about to do your bidding . . . Here I am ready to hear whatever you say . . .’ And God cries, “Stop! Do not harm a hair on his head.” What a transformation! It had been, “Sacrifice your son as a burnt offering.” Now it is, “Do not lay a hand on the boy.” The test is over. Abraham has passed it. What has he shown? He fears God and will do everything God says. There cannot be human sacrifice. God prevented it in Abraham the father of all who believe and none of his sons must ever practice it.

 

This is the man who once had feared Pharaoh and became a liar. This is the man who once feared Abimelech and was prepared to prostitute his wife to save his own skin. Now what a change! He fears God. He knows that Jehovah and Jehovah alone is worth hearing and heeding. Abraham has finally understood the gospel that was preached to him. How great God is, and how great his gospel. It was because of God’s greatness that Pharaoh was overcome in the land of Egypt. It was because of God’s might that Chedorlaomer’s forces were defeated when they had abducted Lot and his family. It was because of God’s omnipotence that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah while Abraham was untouched. It was because of God’s sovereignty that the wombs of Abimelech’s household were opened. It was because God is Almighty that the womb of an 89 year old woman was opened and she bore a son at 90 to her centenarian husband. It has taken 25 years for Abraham to grasp that God is omnipotent and so grasp it that whatever this God says, whatever it might be, however high or low, then Abraham will do it because God can say or do anything. He will fulfil all his promises. No longer will Abraham say, “Yes my God is sovereign” and straight away tell lies about his wife. Abraham’s faith is robust and practical and cheerful and his life and actions reflect it all. How much more should we believe who have seen Jesus rise from the dead, and Jairus’ daughter live, and preach the Sermon on the Mount, and command the wind to obey him and pour out his Spirit at Pentecost, and convert 3,000 men by one message.

 

So take up your cross and deny yourself and follow the Lord. If your eye offends you then cut it out. It is better to go to heaven with one eye than go to hell with both. Sell all you have and give to the poor and follow Christ. Present your own body a living sacrifice to God. Lose houses and lands and husbands and wives and parents and children and brothers and sisters for God. You will gain many more in this world and God himself in the resurrection. Abraham received his son again because he had judged God faithful who had made him his promises. He was unafraid of the child dying. He did not have to live but Abraham had to obey God. Christ lives and we shall live also, never to die again and all of God’s promises will be fulfilled in us – when we see him we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. So be unafraid to obey God, whatever the cost.

 

ii] God acted and provided a substitute.  The story does not stop with the negatives, “Do not lay a hand on him . . . Do not do anything to him . . .” God is not capricious, one day demanding a sacrifice and the next day not. God is not a God of whims. There must be a sacrifice. Abraham’s attention is drawn to a ram, its horns caught in unyielding branches, refusing to let it go. Think of all the forces that would bring that ram there that day to that tree and thrust its head and thorns into the combination of branches locking it in inescapably. The God of providence serves the God of redemption. Thus the substitute is found for Isaac. It is not Isaac who must die for the sins of the people. Isaac is not the one to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin
of the world, for Isaac himself is not without blemish. He is not holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. So Isaac also needs blood to be shed to cover his sins. Abraham has trusted God and will do what God says, at whatever price. His faith has been vindicated, and so the God who demands a sacrifice provides a sacrifice. The sacrifice for our sins can only be the one God has given. That sacrifice alone is effectual.

 

“What voice is that, which speaks for me in heaven’s high court for good?

And from the curse has made me free? ‘Tis Jesus’ precious blood.”

(Joseph Irons 1785-1852).

 

If Isaac was spared then the Father’s Beloved must be offered up. It is not Abraham who will choose a sacrifice and make the sacrifice. Abraham himself will not be judged and condemned and slaughtered if he fails to fulfil the covenant. God is the covenant keeping God. He has called the curse upon himself. This is the Lord who must provide the substitute. God has found a lamb in his own flock, in his own bosom. The lamb is God’s own fellow, he is God himself. The God who demanded a sacrifice became the sacrifice. The infinite price was paid by the infinite love of God. Abraham has learned what would happen if God failed to keep the covenant. So the true eternal Father would one day walk his Son up that very same hill, the wood of the cross on which he would be sacrificed on his back, but no voice from heaven would cry out, “Jehovah, Jehovah! Do not lay a hand on the boy . . . do not do anything to him.” His hand holding the knife would find its sheath in Jesus heart. Jehovah lifted up his rod, O Christ it fell on Thee. His hand would fall down in wrath. His Son would be slaughtered.

 

Abraham received his Son back from the dead. Isaac was given to Abraham a second time. He was his by birth and now he is his by redemption. And God the Father also receives his Son back from the dead. He won’t allow his Son to see corruption in the grave. All the hopes of all the people who were pinned to his cross in his body will rise in triumph with him. Hallelujah what a Saviour! To that cross and that empty tomb you must gaze. You must feed your faith on the dying and rising powerful love of God the Son. Have no fear but simply do whatever God says. Lean not on your own understanding. The name of the place where Christ was sacrificed is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord Will Provide or the Lord will be Seen. Believe it, O sinner! See it! God has provided full redemption, forgiveness for the most guilty, pardon for the worst offender. See it on Golgotha. But “If you love your son more than me then you are not worthy of me, for you have never seen the cost of redemption through the blood of the Son of God. You want his benefits, but you do not want him as your God to serve and follow without question all your life long. So God finally reaffirms and renews all the promises of blessing to Abraham and his descendants. They will become as numerous as the stars and sand on the seashore. There will not be a nation unblessed by Abraham’s offspring, and this came about because Abraham obeyed God.

 

25 October 2009    GEOFF THOMAS

 

*I am much in Bill Baldwin’s debt for his insights into this chapter.