Dr. James T. Naismith of Scarborough, Ontario, a physician and Bible teacher, continues his series on Genesis.
Copyright by Everyday Publications Inc.; used by permission.
[2. Pictures of Christ in Genesis] cont.
[A. Typical Persons] cont.
The story of Isaac is rich in typical lessons, and, as in the case of Adam and Melchizedek, there is definite New Testament authority for finding in the record of his life a prefiguring of Christ, God’s only begotten Son. Writing of the testing of Abraham’s faith, the author of the Hebrews notes that Abraham “received him” from the dead “in a figure,” 11:19 —literally “in a parable.” Thus, the receiving back of Isaac was an acted parable of the resurrection of Christ.
Each chapter of Genesis, from 21 to 25, describes incidents in the life of Isaac that have remarkable parallels in the birth, death, resurrection and glory of Christ.
The Birth of Isaac
In several respects, Isaac’s birth foreshadowed the virgin birth of Christ:
1. It was promised beforehand. “The Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken” — referring to successive revelations to Abraham of the son God would give him through Sarah, his wife, Gen. 17:16-19; 18:10-14. So among the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament were some that related to the circumstances of the Messiah’s birth — Is. 7:14; 9:16; Mic. 5:2. The earliest New Testament prophecies were given to Joseph and Mary and concerned the birth of the Son of God, Matt. 1:20, 21; Luke 1:30-37. As Isaac’s birth was “at the time appointed,” Gen. 18:14, so “when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son,” Gal. 4:4. Even Isaac’s name was announced beforehand, Gen. 17:19. So prophets and angels declared, centuries or just months before His birth, the name of the Child of Bethlehem’s Manger — Immanuel, Is. 7:14; Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Is. 9:6; Jesus, Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31; Son of the Highest, Luke 1:32; Son of God, Luke 1:35.
2. It was supernatural, the result of a divine miracle — see Gen. 17:17; 18:11; Rom. 4:19. An infinitely greater, and entirely different, miracle, accomplished by the same divine power, resulted in the virgin birth of the Son of God: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God, Luke 1:35.
3. It provoked hatred — by Ishmael, Gen. 21:9; Gal. 4:29, reminding us of the hatred of Herod when he heard of the birth of Jesus, Matt. 2.
The Sacrifice of Isaac
No Old Testament incident is more suggestive of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the death and resurrection of Christ, than this. How significant are the phrases used! Note:
1. Unique Relation: “Thy Son, thine only Isaac,” Gen. 22:2; “his only begotten,” Heb. 11:17 — a description used, in the King James Version, only of Isaac and of Christ, John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18: 1 John 4:9. The same Greek word. “monogenes,” is also used of the widow of Nain’s “only son,” Luke 7:12, of Jairus’s “only daughter,” Luke 8:42, and of the “only child” who was possessed of an unclean spirit, Luke 9:38.
2. Deep Affection: “Whom thou lovest,” Gen. 22:2. Doubtless no human parent has ever loved a son more than Abraham loved Isaac —in whom were centred all his joys and hopes and all God’s promises. Yet that love was but finite and not to be compared with the love of Another Father for His dear Son, “the Son of His love,” Col. 1:3 — a love that was from “before the foundation of the world,” John 17:24; and that was proclaimed in time by the Father from an open heaven, Matt. 3:17; 17:5, and by the Son while on earth (e.g. John 3:35; 5:20; 15:9; 17:23, 26).
3. Intimate Communion: “They went both of them together,” Gen. 22:6, 8. How suggestive of the fellowship between God, the Father, and God, the Son in eternity (Prov. 8:30. Then I was by Him as One brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him), and in time (John 8:29; 16:32 — The Father is with Me.)!
4. Submissive Devotion of Isaac in permitting himself to be bound and laid on the altar (Gen. 22:9) portrays, albeit faintly, the complete dedication of the Son to the will of His Father — see Heb. 10:7; John 10:17, 18; Matt. 26:39.
5. Sacrificial Substitution — Gen. 22:7-10, 13. The details of this sacrifice are all deeply suggestive of Calvary — “The wood,” of the cross; “The fire,” of the divine judgment meted out upon the Sin-Bearer; “The knife,” of the sword of Jehovah, awakened against His Shepherd, Zech. 13:7. The type, however, falls short of the Antitype. In the case of Isaac, a voice from heaven arrested the uplifted hand and halted the falling knife. But no voice prevented Jehovah’s sword from smiting the Shepherd; Abraham’s son was spared, but God spared not His own Son, Rom. 8:32. A substitute was found for Isaac, but none for Christ, who took our place and died for us.
6. Glorious Resurrection. Abraham’s assurance that not only he, but also “the lad” would come again to the young men (Gen. 22:5) was evidence — according to the Spirit of God through the writer to the Hebrews (11:19) — of his faith that God who had given life miraculously at Isaac’s birth, could also restore life miraculously by resurrection from the dead. He did receive him from the dead “in a figure” — a parable, as we have noted, of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
The Death of Sarah
The death of Abraham’s wife (v. 2) after the sacrifice of his son, suggests the setting aside of God’s earthly people, Israel (described in the Old Testament — e.g. Hos. 2 — as Jehovah’s wife), after the rejection and death of Christ and prior to the obtaining of a bride for the Son.
The Bride of Isaac
Abraham’s servant’s mission to find a bride for his master’s son is a beautiful picture of the present activity of the Holy Spirit, who is taking out of the nations “a people for His Name,” Acts 15:14 — the bride of Christ, purchased by His sacrifice at Calvary, Eph. 5:25, and one day to share His glory, Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:7-9. Just as the unnamed servant extolled the glories of Isaac and told of his possessions, Gen. 24:35-38, so the spirit of God glorifies the Son of God, and takes what is His and shows it to us, John 16:14. The gifts brought from Isaac for Rebekah, Gen. 24:53, were the earnest of blessings to come — in Isaac’s home. The Spirit of God is Himself the earnest of our inheritance, Eph. 1:14, and he brings to us “silver” — our redemption; “gold” — the preciousness and divine glory of Christ; and “raiment” — the robe of righteousness — all to enjoy and appreciate even here in anticipation of their full enjoyment when we “see Him as He is” and are ushered into the Father’s house, 1 John 3:2; John 14:2.
The Inheritance of Isaac
Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac, v. 5. Our blessed Lord, God’s Son, is heir of all things, Heb. 1:2. The nations have been given to Him for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession, Ps. 2:8. God has given him “glory,” — Pet. 1:21, “authority,” Matt. 28:18, “a name which is above every name,” Phil. 2:9; indeed “all things … in heaven, and … on earth,” Eph. 1:10. It is noteworthy that prior to Genesis 24, Abraham’s servant had already revealed to the bride that his master had given all that he had unto his son, Gen. 24:36. Later (Gen. 25:5), this inheritance was revealed publicly. Today, the Holy Spirit delights to unveil to the Church, the bride of Christ, the excelling glories and unlimited inheritance of her Lord. One day every eye shall see Him, Rev. 1:7, and every tongue and knee will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, Phil. 2:11.