Read verses 1-2.
In this chapter we come to the climax, the acme and the goal of Abraham’s faith.
It took the Lord 60 years to prepare Abraham for this climactic event. Prior to this incident God passed Abraham through the fires of trial. He embarked on the life of faith when he left Ur of the Chaldees. He was 70 years old then, and now he is 130 years.
In Genesis 12 we have the beginning of the journey of faith.
In Genesis 22 we have the climax of this life of faith.
Abraham’s whole life appears to have been a preparation for this faith experience. Each trial, each test, each victory and each failure was in the over-ruling providence of God preparing Him for final victory. The veiled purpose of God in all this was to conform Abraham unto His own image. The first picture released from this type is that Abraham became like God in that he offered up his only son.
This to me is a tremendous commentary on Romans 8:28—“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”
God is never in a hurry. One of the few times we do find Him in a hurry is when the father welcomed back the prodigal—he ran.
Normally God is not in a hurry. To young Timothy Paul wrote, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” He also wrote that leaders in the church should not be novices. When God is preparing someone for His service, He takes His time and does the job thoroughly. The finished product is for His glory.
To you who are passing through deep waters, the road is rough, it is almost overwhelming and sometimes you cry out in your distress. Never forget that in it all God has one purpose and that is to conform us unto the image of Christ.
v. 1—“And it came to pass after these things.” After these things recorded in Genesis 12-21.
v. 1—And God said unto him, “Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.” Abraham is ready at last.
There is no quibbling, no arguing, no asking questions. He did not say now, “O that Ishmael might live before Thee.” Abraham finally became completely submissive, wholly yielded and a totally prepared vessel at the feet of God. That is the meaning of, “Behold, here I am.”
v. 2—“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah.” In the Hebrew language this appears much more tender. “Take now your son, your only Isaac, whom you love.” Nowhere in all the realm of Scripture will we find a clearer picture of Calvary than in this chapter. Linked with Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, which are elaborations of this chapter, it gives us a marvelous prophetic picture of the love of God fulfilled at Calvary.
The Willing Father
Verse 2 continues, “Take now your son, your only Isaac…and offer him…for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains that I will show you.”
The first type or shadow we have here is of the Father’s willingness to give His only Son. Abraham, in the fullness of mature faith, was willing to make the supreme sacrifice, in order to please god Who had called him from the darkness of Ur of the Chaldees into the light of His presence and favor. I believe this but I cannot understand it. Neither can I understand how, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” etc.
This mystery deepens when we consider Isaiah 53:10. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” As we stand in holy reverence and contemplate this mysterious truth, may our hearts cry out, “My Lord, and my God.”
The Only Son
Isaac is called Abraham’s only son. What does this mean, for Abraham had other sons? Ishmael was born 13 years prior to Isaac. He also had other sons subsequently by a future marriage. Isaac was the only one that God recognized, and all the blessing that came upon the other sons came through Isaac.
In a sense God had other sons. Job speaks about a great host of angelic beings called the “sons of God.” Adam is called by Luke the “son of God.” We by our new creation are “sons of God.” Not one of these were able to meet God’s requirements. There was only One, God’s only Son who was fit to become our substitute and satisfy God’s righteousness.
The Well-Beloved Son
Isaac was Abraham’s well-beloved son. “Take now your son, your only Isaac, whom you love.”
God, also, had a well-beloved Son. We as parents know what human love is. We would give our lives for our children if occasion demanded it. All this is so shallow compared with the love which God had for His Son. It was hard for Abraham to give his well-beloved son. It was much more difficult for God to give His Son. Abraham gave his son because of his love for God; but God gave His Son out of love for His enemies.
Romans 5—helpless, sinners, enemies.
The Mount of the Lord
We are next told where Abraham is to go.
v. 2—“And get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will show you.”
Practically all Bible students agree that the land of Moriah embraced the land of Palestine, and that the mountain where Abraham was told to go was Mount Calvary. This was the same mount on which God had ordained that His well-beloved Son should die. Abraham, by the Spirit, designated this place “Jehovah-Jireh”, which means “the mount of the Lord.”
v. 3—“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him.”
“Abraham rose up early in the morning.” Here we see in type “The Father setting apart His Son for sacrifice.” The Passover Lamb was separated from the flock four days before it was to be killed. Exodus 12:3. So here Isaac is taken by Abraham three days before he was to be offered upon the altar.
“Abraham rose up early in the morning.” There are two possible fulfillments of this type:
1. It was early on Wednesday morning that He was taken and tried then sent to His crucifixion.
2. The crucifixion of our Lord was something more than the frenzied act of those who hated Him without a cause. The cross of Christ was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Acts 2:3. Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles and Jews only did “whatsoever” God’s hand and counsel, “determined before to be done.” Acts 4:28.
“Christ was the Lamb foreordained before the foundation of the world.”—1 Peter 1:20.
The Lord Jesus was marked out for sacrifice from all eternity. He was in the purpose of God “slain before the foundation of the world.”—Revelation 13:8.
These things are suggested in our type, “Abraham rose up early in the morning.”
v. 5—“And Abraham said unto his young men, ‘Abide you here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.’”
What took place on the mount of sacrifice was a transaction between the Father and the Son. Nothing is said of Sarah here. The mount came within the range of vision of the young men. Having come thus far they were left behind: “Abide you here.” These two men watched Isaac carrying the wood on his back but what took place between him and his father they were not permitted to see. No human eye was to witness that.
How significantly all this fits into the offering of Christ. The two thieves followed our Lord, Abraham’s greater Son so far, but they were not permitted to see what transpired between the Father and the Son. The three hours of darkness concealed from every human eye the Divine Transaction between Father and Son.
The meal offering—baked in a pan or an oven.
Bearing the Wood
v. 6—“Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son.” Isaac carried the wood on which he was about to die. This is an unmistakable picture of the Lord bearing His cross to Calvary.
“Through the gate of the city they led Him bearing His cross,” etc.
Men placed the cross of wood upon Him—symbol of the curse. God placed the curse of sin upon Him.
The second picture we have presented here is the perfect obedience of Isaac. Isaac was no half-grown boy, but a full grown man who could easily have resisted his father. But instead of resisting, Isaac quietly follows his father. This immediately focuses our attention on our blessed Savior.
Hebrews 10:7—“Lo, I come to do Your will, O God.”
Psalm 40:8—“I delight to do Your will O My God.”
Christ and the Father were of one accord. Note how beautifully this is brought out in the type “and they went both of them together”, twice repeated.
v. 6—The next thing we notice is that Abraham, “Took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.”
As Abraham and Isaac walked toward the place of sacrifice Isaac carried the wood upon his back, Abraham carried the fire and the knife. Isaac is a picture of the Lord carrying His cross to Calvary, and Abraham is a picture of God the Father Whose judgment would fall upon His Son.
Fire and a knife speak of judgment (Divine). Fire expresses Divine holiness and Divine disapproval of anything contrary to the nature and character of God.
1. It was a flaming sword which turned every way that guarded the way of the tree of life. Genesis 3:24.
2. God’s disapproval and judgment was manifested against Sodom and Gomorrah when He burned them with fire.
3. God’s final judgment against sin will be exhibited eternally in the Lake of Fire.
In our type here the fire pointed forward to the judgment which would fall on the Lord Jesus, the Sin-Bearer, when He hung on the cross.
As Isaac’s father took the fire in his hand, so the Beloved Son of God was smitten of God and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4.
“They went both of them together.”
Abraham and Isaac were in perfect agreement. Abraham did not have to force Isaac to carry the wood or climb the altar. See verse 9. There was no struggle, no murmuring, no objection. It is the eloquent picture of a son obedient unto death.
Abraham is a man of 130 years. Isaac is a young man approximately the age of the Lord Jesus. The old man ties the young man, in the prime of life, hand and foot, and places him upon the altar without one word of protest from the son. How well Isaiah describes this very scene, and also describes Him of whom Isaac is the type. Isaiah 53:7. “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” Perfect agreement between Abraham and Isaac also between the Father and the Son: “they went both of them together.”
v. 7—Isaac asks the question, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Describe the scene here.
These two men are going to worship on Mount Moriah. Isaac was carrying the wood, Abraham had the fire and the knife, and as they walked along Isaac asked the question, “Where is the lamb?” Isaac knew that to worship God meant an offering, but where was it?
The answer that Abraham gave is also remarkable. My son, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” Abraham was not thinking of the ram caught in the thicket, he knew nothing of that. This answer expresses the quiet confidence that Abraham had in God and His purpose. He did not know at this time that Isaac would be spared, but he knew that God was able for the situation. This answer seemed to have satisfied Isaac.
The answer of Abraham was also prophetic—“God will provide Himself a lamb.”
John 1:29—“Behold the Lamb of God,” etc.
Romans 8:32—“He that spared not His own Son,” etc.
v. 9-10—Alone with his son.
When they reached the appointed place the father and son were alone. The transaction was a very personal thing, it was not for human eyes to behold. When the awful moment of sacrifice came and Abraham raised that glittering knife to plunge it into the heart of Isaac, there was no one around. The scene was too sacred and holy.
Do you see the picture? When the moment of sacrifice came, God snuffed out the lights of heaven, and pulled down the shades of the sky, and for three hours in total darkness God was alone with His Son. We do not know what took place thee. Of this we are sure, that God forsook His Son, this drew from His lips the heart-broken cry, “My God,” etc.
v. 11-12—So far as Abraham was concerned, his son was dead. How long had he been dead? Three days.
Twice in Hebrews 11:17 the writer says, “He offered up Isaac” and “He offered up his only begotten son.”
This offering actually took place three days before Isaac was put on the altar.
“Lay not thy hand upon the lad,” etc. Isaac is delivered from actually death.
This ordeal was a severe test of faith for Abraham. On the one hand, there were the promises of God invested in Isaac. On the other, God said offer up your son as a burnt-offering to Me.
Humanly speaking this was an impossible situation. Deep down in his heart Abraham was convinced that in order for God to accomplish in Isaac his plans, then God must act, and even though he slay his son in obedience to God’s request, He would raise him from the dead.
v. 13—The ram, the substitute.
The type passes from Isaac to the ram offered up. Our text says, “offered up in his stead.” This is a beautiful picture of Christ dying in the place of sinners who, like Isaac, are “bound” and have the wrath and justice of God suspended over them.
See John 3:36—“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Galatians 3:8—“The Gospel was preached unto Abraham.” This is where God preached it to him.
“Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure”—Hebrews 11:19.
Ascension of Christ
First of all let us consider Isaac. We read nothing more of him in this record after he was bound to the altar. He disappears from the story.
Verse 19 tells us that Abraham returned to the young men. Isaac metaphorically is left up in the mountain. The next time he appears in the Divine record is when he meets his bride in Genesis 24:62.
This is a tremendous picture of the ascension of the Lord Jesus. Isaac disappears after his resurrection, and so does our Lord. During Isaac’s absence Eliezer, the servant, type of the Holy Spirit, is sent by the father to seek a bride for his son. So, during our Lord’s absence the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to call out a Bride from among the nations, for His Son.
In closing let me review briefly this wonderful picture of God’s program beginning with the birth of Christ. In Genesis 21 we have the birth of the promised son. Isaac is supernaturally, miraculously born against the laws of nature. In Genesis 22 we have the death of this son on Mount Moriah or Calvary.
In the close of this chapter we have the resurrection of this son, Isaac, then follows the ascension in type as he disappears from view.