By John Hutton
- The promise of a child
- The birth of Isaac
- Isaac – a picture of the Son
One of the most remarkable men in Bible history is the man Abraham. He lived in a Chaldean City called Ur, a city where idolatry was a way of life, and there is no reason to believe that Abraham was anything else but an idolater as well.
God appeared to Abraham in Ur and told him to leave his country and brethren, and go to a country which God would show him. Abraham obeyed – who wouldn’t if God appeared to them – and left Ur. He was disobedient in that he took with him his family, and probably out of respect for his father he did not go any farther than Haran (Charran), but waited for his father to die before going on.
It was not that Abraham had forgotten God’s command, or that he had no intention of obeying. At his father’s death, and after twenty five years living in Haran, he left to find the country that God had mentioned, still taking with him his nephew Lot, a thing that he was told not to do by God. Surely God would not break up a family.
The fact is that when God says to do a thing, in a certain manner, He means it.
It was not until Abraham separated himself from Lot, that God renewed His contact with Abraham. This time a promise is given to Abraham of a land and a seed. Abraham accepts the land, but there is nothing said about the promised seed.
The Promise of a Child
In Chapter 15 of Genesis, God again speaks to Abraham, and repeats the promise. This time Abraham brings up the obvious problem with regard to him having a seed: Sarah was barren. How could he have a child?
In verse 4 and 5, God assured Abraham that the seed would be his, “And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine, heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be”
For this promise to be realized something must happen to Sarah, something that only God could do, a miracle to make her productive.
Abraham believed the promise of God, and God “counted it (the faith) to him for righteousness”. Gen. 15:6.
Abraham and Sarah tried to have a child but nothing happened. Sarah decided to help things along and gave Abraham her handmaiden to have a child for Abraham , who was 86 years old at the time. The result was the birth of Ishmael, whom Abraham loved.
The Birth of Isaac
13 years later, when Abraham was 99 years old, God again renewed His promise to Abraham. By that time another development had occurred. Beside Sarah being barren, Abraham was now beyond fathering a child. “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” Rom. 4:19
If they had ever stopped trying to have children, they certainly started again. The result was the birth of Isaac, twelve months later. God had reactivated the reproduction organs of both Abraham and Sarah.
Now the promise to Abraham could be effective, ‘for in Isaac shall thy seed be called”. Gen. 21.12.
The promise was assured in Gen. 15. The realization of the promise took many years.
The above is a very short summary of justification by faith. Like Abraham, we were asked to believe in something that was beyond human logic. When we believed, God reckoned us as justified, but the realization of that justification will be when we see Him face to face.
However the story of Abraham does not finish there.
When Isaac was about twenty years old, God appeared to Abraham to test him, and 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.” Gen. 22:2
As far as the promises of God to Abraham were concerned, they could only occur through Isaac. The words “thine only son Isaac”, should read, “thine only Isaac.” If anything happened to Isaac, then there would be no nation of Israel. In this verse we have God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to Him.
What a change now in Abraham. When told to get out of Ur and go to the promised land, Abraham dragged his feet, and took 25 years to get there. When God promised an heir of his own loins with Sarah, Abraham was willing to take Hagar.
Now, when God tells him to sacrifice Isaac, there is no argument from Abraham. He had learned something about his God, his “little” faith had become “great” faith.
Abraham had learned about resurrection, and knew that even if he killed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Hebrews 11:17-19.
Here was the perfecting of Abraham’s faith. James tells us in chapter 2: 20- 24 that this act of obedience, perfected faith.
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
God promised Abraham a land, “the Promised Land”, and a numberless seed to populate it. He made that promise when Abraham was justified by faith. Abraham was happy to dwell in it, but only temporarily, because somewhere and at sometime, God made another promise to Abraham. The second promise was of a Heavenly City, “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” Heb. 11:9-10.
When did God make this promise to Abraham? I don’t know. I wonder if it was after this great act of Faith recorded for us in Genesis, chapter 22.
The members of the Body of Christ received a promise when we accepted Christ as our own personal Saviour. Not a land on earth, not a heavenly land, but a citizenship in Heaven itself. However, that is not the end of it, we are told to walk worthy our calling, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. ” Eph. 4:13
When Paul wrote Philippians, he was not sure that he had attained this perfecting, and its promise. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 2:12.
Paul may not have attained the goal that God had put before him when he wrote Philippians, but he was sure trying, trying with every fibre of his being. He had reached it when he wrote 2 Timothy.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended., but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded., and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Phil. 2:13-15.
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:6-8
Whether our faith is “little” or “great” is up to us. What we can be sure of is that God will Judge it perfectly, there will be no fudging.
Now back to the story of Abraham in Genesis 22.
Isaac – a picture of the Son
In Genesis 22 we have a great picture of the relationship between God the Father, and God the Son, in the lives of these two men, Abraham and Isaac.
In verse 2 God says to Abraham, “take now thy son, thine only (only begotten Heb. 11: 17) son Isaac”. Here Isaac is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” John 1: 18
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“He that believeth on him is not condemned., but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18
Abraham was told to make the sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. Not any mountain, but the one that God would point out. The Lord was crucified on one of the mountains of Moriah called Calvary. Which mountain in Moriah do you think God wanted Isaac sacrificed on?
When it was time for the sacrifice, Abraham and Isaac made the last part of the journey together. Up until this point the wood for the sacrifice must have been carried by the two servants, now, Abraham laid the wood for the sacrifice on Isaac, verse 6. “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son. ” Isaac carried the wood for the offering.
The Lord did not carry the Cross all the way to His crucifixion, a man called Simon of Cyrene carried it to the place of sacrifice. “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” Matt. 27:32. Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26.
When they got to Golgotha, the place of sacrifice, they laid the cross on the Lord, “And he hearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha.”
In verse 9 of Genesis 22, Abraham lays Isaac on the wood “and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood”. When that awful tree that the Lord was to be crucified on was put in place in the ground, they nailed Him to it, and it was the will of God to do so.
When the Lord appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, to believe, Thomas had to see the nailprints, and the Lord showed them to him. “But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25. “Then saith he to Thomas, ‘Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.’ ” John 20:27.
On the way up the hill, Isaac said to Abraham, “My father, where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”. “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering”, was Abraham’s reply. That settled it for Isaac. His confidence, his trust in his father was so complete, that no words or resistance are recorded when Abraham takes Isaac binds him, and places him on the altar, and takes the knife in his hand to slay his only Isaac.” What great faith Abraham had in God. Even if the boy had to be slain, God would raise him from the dead.
What great faith Isaac had in the word and love of his father. His father had spoken, and he was willing to obey, even with his life.
In the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord, knowing who the sacrifice was, Himself, and what the sacrifice would be, the sinless becoming sin, asked a question of the Father, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…”, the will of His Father settled it for Him, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
No argument or complaint from either the Lord, or Isaac.
‘He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7
“God will provide HIMSELF a lamb for the burnt offering”, said Abraham. In his case, the Lord stopped him making the sacrifice, and provided a substitute for Isaac. “Abraham, Abraham … Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing 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 thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”
In the antitype, the real thing, God gave HIMSELF as the lamb for the sacrifice, in the person of his only begotten Son, The Lord Jesus Christ. He was also a substituted sacrifice. He gave Himself for the sin of the world and took my place, and yours, the ones who deserve to pay the price of sin. And not only us, but to any who will accept Him as their own personal Saviour, and the Son of God.
The last feature in the story I want to point out is that ” they went both of them together”. Gen. 22:6,8. Father and Son, as one. One of the things that is made forcefully in the New Testament. is that God the Father and God the Son, acted as one, and in accord.
“I and my Father are one” John 10: 30 “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” John 14:10-11. “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. John 16:32.
When the sacrifice had been made, Abraham and Isaac went back down to the servants, “both of them together”, just as Abraham had promised in verse 5. “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. ” “So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.” Verse 19.
When the terrible events that took place on the cross were completed, and the sacrifice accepted, the Father and the Son were not only united again, but satisfied. “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities: Isaiah 53: 10-11.
The story of Abraham and Isaac “going both of them together” to make their sacrifice, shows forth in type, the great sacrifice that was made by God the Father and His Son, on the tree at Calvary, “going both of them together”, and satisfied.