Text: Genesis 22:1-18
The LORD said, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets” (Hosea 12:10). The event recorded in this passage is not only historically true and faithful, but it is also a wonderful similitude [likeness] of “Jesus Christ the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) being offered by God the Father on the cross “for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2:2), by far the greatest of all historical events!
THE TRIAL OF FAITH
Genesis 22:1-2 “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he 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.”
Abraham was tried — In scripture, tempt means: ‘to try; to prove; to put to trial for proof’ (Noah Webster, 1828). It is written in the New Testament: “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 [similitude]” (Hebrews 11:17-19; John 3:16-18). “Jesus the Son of God…was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15). Although Abraham sinned on other occasions, according to God’s record of this event, he was obedient and passed this particular trial without sin.
ABRAM’S SON ISAAC
Genesis 22:2 “…thine only son Isaac…”
Abram’s illegitimate son — After “Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan” (Genesis 16:3), at least ten years after the LORD promised Abram a son, when Sarai Abram’s wife saw that she was still “barren” (Genesis 11:30), she said unto Abram, “Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai…And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael” (Genesis 16:1-5, 15).
The LORD prophesied of Ishmael unto Hagar, saying, “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Genesis 16:12). Ishmael is the illegitimate son of Abraham (Deuteronomy 23:2; Zechariah 9:6; Hebrews 12:8), the progenitor of the people who would be the avowed enemies of the offspring of Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob. The majority of the Islamic nations—established around 610-613 AD by Mohammed, one of the descendants of Ishmael, are determined to completely destroy the nation of Israel.
The allegory — Paul wrote to the confused Galatians: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid [Agar or Hagar], the other by a freewoman [Sarah]. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh [Ishmael]; but he of the freewoman was by promise [Isaac]. Which things are an allegory [a figurative description of real facts]: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai [the Ten Commandments, the old covenant (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:13)], which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar [Hagar].
“For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children [Unbelieving Israel is still in bondage to the law of Moses, having rejected and crucified their Messiah Jesus Christ]. But Jerusalem [new Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2)] which is above is free, which is the mother of us all…. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
“Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free” (Galatians 4:21-31).
Abram’s only begotten son — The LORD’S promise to Abraham was revealed to him sequentially. When the LORD called Abram out of “Ur of the Chaldees” (Genesis 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7), he commanded him to go “unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation…” (Genesis 12:1-3). After being delayed for a time in Haran, Abram entered into the land of Canaan where the LORD appeared to him and mentioned Abram’s “seed” (Genesis 12:7; 13:15).
Later, the word of the LORD appeared to Abram in a vision and said to him, “this [Eliezer] shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir… And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:1-6)
The LORD promised and named Abraham’s son — When “Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram…God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her…. And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis 17:1, 15-19).
The LORD also promised and named his Son — Isaiah prophesied: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). And “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). After Mary “was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:18), the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him, “fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
The angel Gabriel came unto Mary and said unto her, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS” (Luke 1:30-31).
The Lord appeared to Abraham and Sarah — Not long after all the men of Abraham’s house were circumcised (Genesis 17:23-27), when Abraham was ninety and nine years of age, “three men [the Lord and two angels—compare Genesis 18:22 with Genesis 19:1]” (Genesis 18:2) appeared to Abraham. “And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son…. Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son…” (Genesis 18:9-15).
The birth of Isaac — “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him” (Genesis 21:1-5). The LORD always keeps his promises (Numbers 23:19)!
Genesis 22:2 “…whom thou lovest…”
The Father loves the Son — Abraham loved his promised and only begotten son Isaac. God has eternally loved his everlasting, promised, and only begotten Son. In his prayer to his Father, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “…for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24; 3:35). “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand” (John 3:35; Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 5:20).
THE PLACE OF THREE OFFERINGS
Genesis 22:2 “…the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
Abraham’s offering — About 1872 BC, Abraham offered up a ram “for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Genesis 22:13).
David’s offering — David offered on the same mount about 1012 BC. The land of Moriah is where Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple were built much later: “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite” (2Chronicles 3:1). Because David numbered Israel, “the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men” (1Chronicles 21:14).
“When the LORD saw the angel destroying Jerusalem, “he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem…. And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.
“Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD…And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof. At that time when David saw that the LORD had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there” (1Chronicles 21:14-28).
God’s offering — The place where his only begotten Son Jesus Christ was crucified was the same place where Abraham built an altar to offer his son Isaac. It was upon one of the mountains of Moriah called “Calvary” (Luke 23:33); also called “The place of a skull” (Mark 15:22; Matthew 27:33; John 19:17). It was on this mount where Jesus “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4), “that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Jesus Christ “hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
A prepared body — “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). When the Son came into the world, “he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me…. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:5-10).
ABRAHAM’S IMMEDIATE OBEDIENCE
Genesis 22:3 “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”
Obedience brings great blessings — When the LORD commanded him to leave his country, Abram delayed his departure and only partially obeyed. But when the LORD commanded him to offer his son for a burnt offering, Abraham obeyed without delay. In this situation, Abraham could say: “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” (Psalm 119:60). Later, the LORD said unto Abraham’s son Isaac: “And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:4-5).
Immediate obedience to the LORD’S commandments should be the desire of “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26)!
Genesis 22:4 “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.”
Foreknowledge of God — The Lord Jesus Christ was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23) to be crucified and slain! God, knowing “all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18), even before the creation, saw the place where he would offer his only begotten Son on the cross for the sins of the whole world “afar off.” God’s Son is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Believers are told that Jesus Christ “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you…” (1Peter 1:17-21).
Genesis 22:5 “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.”
Abraham believed God — Before the birth of Isaac, God said unto Abraham, “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis 17:19).
The New Testament declares — The apostle testifies in the New Testament: “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 [a similitude]” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
And again, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6). “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” (James 2:23).
SIMILITUDE OF THE CROSS
Genesis 22:6 “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son…”
The cross — The wood which Abraham laid upon Isaac is a picture of the cross that was borne by Jesus: “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17). “Simon a Cyrenian bore his cross from Pilate’s judgment hall unto the mount” (Matthew 27:32-33; Mark 15:21-22; Luke 23:26). “Then the Lord Jesus bore his own cross into “the place of a skull” (John 19:17) where he was crucified.
Genesis 22:6 “…and he took the fire in his hand…”
God’s indignation — God’s “fiery indignation… shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27). “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him” (Nahum 1:6). “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy” (Zephaniah 3:8; Psalm 21:8-9).
The cup: not the cross! — Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before his crucifixion, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42; Mark 14:36). The Lord Jesus would have never asked his Father to remove the cross from him! For it was on the cross where the Son of God “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” to die “for all” (1Peter 1:18-20; 2Corinthians 5:14-15; 1Corinthians 15:3-4) and to redeem by his precious blood all believers “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9)!
Through his prophet, the Son declared: “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:7). And “when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem…” (Luke 9:51-53).
On more than one occasion before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples, “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 24:7). After his resurrection, the Lord declared to two disciples, “…O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).
Later, he said to the two disciples and the eleven apostles together, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44; Matthew 5:18).
It was on the cross where the LORD “laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6), where God “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Corinthians 5:21): “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree [cross tree], that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1Peter 2:22-24).
On the cross, the LORD executed his fierce and terrifying judgment on our sins in the body of Jesus Christ (Micah 7:9). It was on the cross where the Lord Jesus Christ drank down to the dregs “of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation” (Revelation 14:10; Psalm 75:8).
THE SWORD OF THE LORD
Genesis 22:6 “…and a knife…”
God’s sword — The LORD uses wicked men of the world as his sword to accomplish his judgments (Psalm 17:13-14). None of the men who crucified Christ knew that they were fulfilling “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23)!
WALKING IN AGREEMENT
Genesis 22:6 “…and they went both of them together.”
Perfect unity — The Father and the Son of God were in complete agreement (Amos 3:3) when Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2Corinthians 5:19).
THE LAMB FOR A BURNT OFFERING
Genesis 22:7 “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
A super majority of people in the world today know not that Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Genesis 22:8 “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”
The Lamb of God — Abraham’s answer to Isaac prophesied of Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36).
The fulness of the Godhead — “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1John 5:7). In Jesus Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1Timothy 3:16). The Lord Jesus Christ, “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), is “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 1:8; 1John 5:7).
He lay down his life — The Lord Jesus Christ “offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:24-27) [as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Peter 1:19)] “for us an offering and a sacrifice to God [the Father] for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2). Jesus Christ “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1Peter 2:24). “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).
He rose from the dead — The glorious gospel of Christ is “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4). Before his crucifixion, Jesus declared: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18).
Great blessings of his death and life — Through faith in Jesus Christ, all believers are justified, sanctified, reconciled to God, saved from wrath, and perfected for ever (Romans 5:8-11; Hebrews 10:9-14)!
Genesis 22:9-12 “And they came to the place which God had told him of; 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. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, 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.”
Abraham completed his trial with honour — No similitude is perfect, for it is only an example and foreshadow of an actual event. Although Abraham fully intended to carry out God’s commandment by offering his only begotten son upon the altar that he built, God never intended for Isaac to be offered a burnt offering (Jeremiah 7:31). Therefore—at the last moment, the similitude must change!
THE LAMB OF GOD
Genesis 22:13 “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.”
Another similitude — God provided a ram [a male lamb] in the stead of Isaac to represent the sacrifice of Christ. This ram was found caught in a thicket. The Lord Jesus Christ was caught in a web of evil men who forced a crown of thorns upon his head and crucified him! The Lord Jesus Christ “offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27) as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Genesis 22:14 “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.”
The place of crucifixion — Jehovahjireh means ‘Jehovah sees.’ Nineteen hundred years later, “the Saviour of the world” (1John 4:14) was seen dying for our sins on the cross in the same mount, “a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17).
THE SEED OF ABRAHAM
Genesis 22:15-18 “And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
Christ is Abraham’s seed — “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). When the eternal Son of God came into the world, “he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16).
The father of all believers — Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad…. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:56-58). By faith, Abraham successfully finished the course of his trial: “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise…” (Hebrews 6:13-20). By virtue of Abraham’s faithfulness to fulfill his part as a similitude of the Father, God called Abraham “the father of all them that believe…. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:11-13).
Therefore, God’s justification of all men “is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).