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Covenant Father 14: Offering Isaac - Genesis 22

When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, God guarded the way to the tree of life with a flaming sword. In order to get back to the blessed life with God, you need to pass under the knife and through the fire. But God promised that the Serpent’s work would be undone by the seed of the woman, and He chose Abraham to be the father of that seed. And so God made a covenant with Abraham, and instead of slaughtering Abraham, a heifer, a female goat, and a ram passed under the knife, and God’s fire passed between the pieces. But animal sacrifices were a temporary fix. It had to be the seed of the woman who would overcome the curse and bring blessing to the world by opening the way back to the tree of life in the presence of God.

Maybe that’s why when God calls to Abraham from heaven with this greatest test of his faith, Abraham doesn’t seem surprised. He doesn’t argue with God like he did when God told him about Sodom and Gomorrah. He doesn’t evaluate God’s command and choosing whether or not to obey based on his own wisdom. He simply obeys out of a heart that fears God, and out of a faith that trusts God. He prepares to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice so that God’s promises will come true, so that the world might be blessed.

Abraham knows that God is fulfilling His promises through this command because God is sending him out of Beersheba back to the Promised Land, the land of Moriah. Many years later, Solomon will begin to build the temple on Mount Moriah, revealing the offering of Isaac to have been a foreshadowing of Israel’s sacrificial system. That also means that the land of Moriah includes the city of Jerusalem, where our Lord was crucified. Mount Moriah is the thread that connects Isaac with Israel’s sacrificial system and with the sacrifice of Jesus. Many of the details throughout the text strengthen that connection: everything about the offering of Isaac is meant to prepare you for Jesus.

At the center of the story in vv. 7-8, we see a father seeking to bless the world through faith and a son’s submission to his father. Most importantly, we see what faith says when confronted with the impossible. Isaac sees that they have everything for a sacrifice except the most important thing, and so he asks the obvious question: “Where is the lamb?” And now, in light of God’s Word and the history that has unfolded, we see what Abraham and Isaac could only glimpse: Isaac’s question is the most important question in all the world: “Where is the lamb? Where is the one who will go through fire and sword for us so that we can draw near to God?”

And Abraham’s answer is the answer of faith, not sight. Abraham didn’t know how God would provide, but he knew that God would provide. Even when God commands him to sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac, the son whom he loves, Abraham trusts that God will see to it that His promises are kept, including the promises to bless the world through Isaac.

And that’s what God wanted to see. God wanted that faith to be put on display before a watching world. God knew already, of course – the test wasn’t for God’s benefit, but for Abraham, for Isaac, for you. You need to see what true faith looks like: it looks like immediate, complete, and costly obedience. You need to hear what true faith says in the face of death: “God will provide.” Will following God put you in a difficult situation, a painful or shameful situation, a life-or-death situation? Don’t worry. God will provide. That’s what faith says, no matter what.

And now God has provided something better for you than what He showed Abraham. Abraham had faith enough for a resurrection, and God showed Him a replacement instead. But Abraham’s faith in God lived on through Isaac for many generations, until the true seed was born, the one who would be everything Isaac was and more. When Jesus came, God Himself became a man so that He could be an offering. Father and Son went together in perfect harmony to the cross, the Father seeking a blessing for the world, the Son submitting to the Father’s plan.

And then what Abraham saw and rejoiced in came true: God raised Jesus from the dead, and together Father and Son are blessing all the nations of the earth through Abraham’s faith, welcoming all who believe in Jesus back into paradise, back into the way that leads to the tree of life, eternal life in the presence of God.

Posted on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 by CJ Bowen