Yesterday at BBC, Pastor George preached a sermon called “On the Mount of the Lord it Will be Provided” from Genesis 22:1-14:
Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.”
In our study of Matthew, we have seen that Jesus tells the disciples He must go to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 16). The disciples don’t take this lightly, nor do they fully understand Jesus’ meaning when He talks about His death and resurrection. However, the Old Testament not only contains predictions of the Messiah’s death, but previews of what His death would look like and what it would mean. Genesis 22 is one of those passages that previews the death of the Messiah who would be a substitute for our sins.
First, Abraham is called by God. This isn’t the first time the Lord has spoken to Abraham. Previously, God has called Abraham to leave his home and promised to give him a son and a great inheritance (Gen. 12, 13, 15, 17, 21). Abraham had waited nearly 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise in the birth of Isaac and now God is asks him to sacrifice this chosen, special son.
The story slows down and recounts every detail of the sacrifice preparation. Although we don’t get any insight into the internal dialogue Abraham is wrestling with, we can imagine what he must be thinking as he walks a three day journey, looks up to see the mountain where he will kill his son, rising early to cut the wood and saddle the donkey. Yet in verse 5, Abraham makes a strange declaration to his servants, “I and the lad will go, we will worship, and we will return.” In all of this struggle to trust and obey God, Abraham believed God could not lie, would fulfill His promise, and perhaps perform a miracle in order to do so. Hebrews 11:17-19 sheds more light on Abraham’s thinking, “He believed God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead.”
The sacrifice is then submitted as Isaac, carrying his own wood up the mountain, travels with Abraham to the site of the sacrifice. Isaac notices that the sacrifice is missing but Abraham assures him that God wold provide. Like Abraham, Isaac submitted himself to his father; Abraham’s response was to trust God and Isaac also demonstrated his trust in God as he obeyed and walked with Abraham.
There is no reason to believe that Abraham wasn’t going to go through with the sacrifice (James 2:21). Isaac is bound, laid on the altar, and is as good as dead. In this moment, Isaac seems to have been forsaken by his father, but God provided a substitute at the last moment as Abraham lifted the knife. Death was still required but God accepts a substitute in Isaac’s place and the ropes that bound Isaac are used to bind the ram.
Like Isaac, Jesus is the Lamb that was offered up (John 1:29). Like Isaac, He submitted Himself to His Father (Is. 53). Like Abraham, God prepared the sacrifice (Heb. 10:5). But unlike Isaac, there is no substitute for Christ and the sacrifice was offered up to God by God. Christ died the death we should have died to satisfy the wrath of God that we deserved to face. Now we are received as children of God, all on the basis of God’s love for us in providing a substitute so that we could know Him (1 John 4:10). Abraham himself rejoiced to see the day when the preview would become a fulfillment in Christ (John 5:56).
So what should be our response? Do you rejoice in the plan of God? Do you marvel at the wisdom of God? Do you surrender yourself to the will of God? Abraham’s trust and obedience were the proofs of his faith in God. May it be said also of us that we believe God and that our faith is completed by our surrender to Him (James 2:21-24).