Reader: “Take your son, your only son.”
Response: “. . . your only son.”
Scripture: Genesis 22:1-19
Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Then the angel of the LORD called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the LORD says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
Then they returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live.
Reader: “This is God’s foretelling story.”
Response: “Our God is beyond words.”
As the Lenten season begins to point toward the cross, we come across this familiar story of Abraham and Isaac. There are so many familiarities and Christological types in the First Testament. Another way to look at these accounts is what the Scriptures call shadows. Abraham was a type of the Father in that he did not withhold his son, his only son whom he loved. We are reminded of Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration when the Father spoke from heaven “this is my beloved son, my Chosen one, listen to him.” Isaac was a type of Christ figure. He was the chosen one rather than Ishmael. As Jesus carried the wooden cross on his back for his sacrifice, so also Isaac carried the wood on his back for his sacrifice. A lamb was eventually sacrificed in place of Isaac, but Jesus, as the Lamb of God, laid down his life as our sacrifice. There were two servant witnesses who accompanied Abraham and Isaac. There were two thieves who bore witness to the crucifixion of Jesus. (Jewish law required the testimony of at least two witnesses to verify the truth in any situation. Deut.17:6) The sacrifice of the ram took place on Mt. Moriah, the eventual site of Solomon’s Temple as well as Golgotha. A donkey went with them reminding us of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (located on Mt. Moriah) on Palm Sunday. The sacrifice was offered on the third day. As it turned out, Isaac, was “raised from the dead” on the third day. As God the Father raised Jesus on the third day, so Abraham believed God would raise his slain son. (Heb.11:19)―I’m not making this up! The one performing the burnt offering was also the one who slayed the sacrifice. The burnt sacrifice was consumed completely by the fire, unlike other types which often had some portion go to the priest. This sacrifice was to atone for a sinful state, rather than for forgiveness of a specific sin. The sacrificial offering was to be in perfect health at the beginning of the prime of its life. Finally, the sacrifice of the ram was “in place” of Isaac. Jesus sacrifice on the cross was in our place. Indeed, as the Scripture says, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Abraham returned home with his son. And we await the return of our Father in heaven with his Son. The sacrifice has been completed! We are called by our Father to lay down our life every day and die to ourselves in the same way that our Savior humbled himself before his Father.
Music: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” Massed Choirs Weston Noble, Conductor Glorious!! Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, CA.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On with the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.
See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down,
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
(This may well be the grandest hymn in the English language.)
You are God and we praise you; you are the Lord and we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father; all creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, cherubim and seraphim sing in endless praise, Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might; Heaven and earth are full of your glory. The glorious company of apostles praise you; the noble fellowship of prophets praise you; the white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the whole world the holy church acclaims you, Father of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit advocate and guide. To you eternal God, three in one we give you praise. Amen.
-Te Deum, 4th century