There is a thrilling story which is very familiar to the Jewish people, especially on the day of their New Year, Rosh Hashana. It is about offering up Isaac as a sacrifice to God. This account is repeated and referred to many times during the ritual in the Synagogue on that day.
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…” (Genesis 22:1)
Before going on further, we want to explain the term, “tempt” in this verse, so as to eliminate any misunderstanding. It means “to test,” “to put to trial” or “to try.” When Satan “tempts” a person, he seeks to bring that person into subjection to sin. But when God “tries” or “proves” anyone, He has provided victory in the trial. It was an honor that God did “tempt” Abraham.
God knew that Abraham loved Him far better than anything or anyone, but God would “prove” it to be so. God did not desire the death of Isaac, but He did desire Abraham’s complete surrender, to the extent that he would be willing to offer up his beloved son, Isaac.
There was no “written” Word when God spoke to Abraham, but Abraham put his trust in that spoken Word. God commanded him to leave his people who were idol-worshipers, and Abraham obeyed because he believed. For long years Abraham waited for God to fulfill His promise, and finally Isaac was born. Then God demanded that Abraham offer up as a sacrifice – this son whom he loved.
How would you have reacted to such a command? Would you have been willing to obey God as did Abraham? Would you have had the faith which Abraham had so that you would do anything God asked of you? Abraham knew God would honor His Word which promised not only that Isaac would be born, but that “In Isaac all the families of the earth would be blessed.”
Abraham knew that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead if his life was taken in sacrifice! We read the portion in the Hebrew Scriptures which tells of this. It is found in Genesis 22:3-5:
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his donkey, 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 which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the donkey; and I and the lad will go yonder AND COME AGAIN TO YOU.”
When Abraham said to his young men that “I and the lad will come again to you,” he believed in the resurrection of Isaac. He was willing to take the life of Isaac as though it had already been done, but he said that he and Isaac would return – not he, alone! We read this in the book of Hebrews, 11:17, 19:
“By faith…Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.”
Abraham didn’t object to this demand of God. He did not beat his chest and scream at God. He did not struggle against the will of God. He didn’t criticize or question God for this command. He simply believed God’s promise in His Word and obeyed it. And he actually expected God to raise Isaac from the dead!
Oh, that my Jewish people would see the significance of this offering of Isaac when they read this in the Synagogue on Rosh HaShanah! It is not merely a story of Abraham’s faithfulness and Isaac’s willingness to be a sacrifice unto God, it is also a beautiful picture of God’s redeeming love. It is a type of God’s provision of a sacrifice, for just as Abraham had an only son whom he loved and was willing to give up, so God gave His only begotten Son.
Isaac was not an infant. He was a strong, mature, young man. It takes strength to climb mountains, and it takes greater strength to climb mountains carrying a load of wood. Isaac could have fought with Abraham and overpowered him so that he would not be slain, but he did not. He obeyed his father who laid him down upon the altar and bound him. Isaac actually waited for the knife to take his life as an offering to God. He, too, must have believed that God could raise him from the dead as did Abraham!
Oh my fellow-Jew, two thousand years after our Father Abraham, there came One who also bore the wood for sacrifice up a “mountain,” the mountain of Calvary, to fulfill the command of God! As Isaac did not resist Abraham but yielded to his will, so Messiah Jesus followed this same behavior of Isaac.
He could have called down a legion of angels from heaven to defend Him from His tormentors, to take Him from the altar of wood and the agonizing death on that tree, but He did not. He was obedient to the will of the Father for He said concerning His death as a sacrifice: “This is the commandment which I have received of my Father.”
God has painted a picture of our Messiah-Saviour in the story of the offering of Isaac. It is a prophecy of the Supreme Sacrifice which was given for all mankind. Messiah Jesus was willing to suffer, bleed and die for you. Are you willing to accept Him into your heart? Believe the true report of your heavenly Isaac who is Yeshua who laid down His life in order that you might receive His forgiveness for your sins. Accept His pardon today!