By Henry Mahan
Genesis 22 records Abraham's greatest trial and Abraham's greatest revelation of the gospel of Christ (John 8:56). Genesis 22 is full of Christ and could rightly be called 'the gospel of Mt. Moriah,' which mountain many believe to be Mt. Calvary, where Christ died.
v. 1. The chapter begins with 'after these things;' that is to say, after nine or ten great trials (the Jews say that Abraham had ten great trials), Abraham was called upon to endure the greatest trial of all--the sacrifice of his only son. Our sovereign God does all things he has purposes to do 'in due time' (Rom. 5:6) and 'in the fullness of time' (Gal. 4:4). 'After these things:' after the fall, the flood, the exodus, the tabernacle, the prophets and kings, it pleased God to fulfill every promise, prophecy, and pattern in the sacrifice of his only-begotten Son. All that had gone before pictured and pointed to this hour when Christ would die (Acts 10:43; Luke 24:27, 44-46).
v. 2. The words of this verse taken one by one reveal the greatness of the gift, the love behind it, and the agony endured through it. Can you imagine the grief of Abraham when he received this command? the sorrow he suffered in considering the death of his son at his own hand? the great love he revealed in his willingness to give Isaac? or the supreme sacrifice involved?
1. 'Take thy son.' The Lord Jesus is the Son of God.
2. 'Thine only son.' Is he not called 'his only begotten son'?
3. 'Whom thou lovest.' God said, 'This is my beloved son.'
4. 'And offer him for a burnt offering.'
Christ Jesus became our burnt offering, our sin offering, our sacrifice by the will of the Father, who was pleased to bruise him (Isa. 53:10; Heb. 10:9- 10).
vv. 3-4. Abraham had three full days in which to consider the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. As they journeyed through the days and slept through the nights, this burden and sacrifice lay upon his heart. But the eternal Father foreordained and purposed the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, not three days or three thousand days, but 'before the foundation of the world' (Rev. 13:8; Eph. 1:3-4).
What love, what grace, and what a sure and certain promise we have in our Lord Jesus Christ and in God's eternal purpose, which has never changed! (Mal. 3:6; Rom. 11:201; Num. 23:19.)
vv. 5-6. Abraham carefully prepared all that was involved in the sacrifice-the wood, the sharpened knife, and the fire. What shall we say of our great God, who carefully prepared, predestinated, and foretold all events, all people, all nations, and all actions of the greatest event of all time--the death of Christ (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28). Abraham commanded his servants to remain at the foot of the mountain, and the father and the son went together to the mountain. Redemption is the work of the Father and the Son. 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself' (2 Cor. 5:19); yet Christ was in the hands of and under the wrath of God for our sins (Isa. 53:4-6). Twelve went with him to the Passover, eleven went with him to the garden, three went with him to pray; but when he went to the cross, he went there alone (Heb. 1:3). Upon Isaac, Abraham laid the wood, even as the cruel cross was laid upon the shoulders of our Lord.
vv. 7-8. As Abraham and Isaac walked up the mountain to offer a sacrifice and to worship God, Isaac asked, 'Father, behold the wood and the fire; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?' Isaac knew that (God being holy, righteous, and just and man being guilty, sinful, and evil) there can be no acceptance, no forgiveness, no communion between God and men without the blood (Lev. 17:11; Exo. 12:13; Heb. 9:22). He knew about Cain's error and condemnation. Abraham uttered that great prophecy which is the very heart of all God's purpose, the gospel, and our hope -- 'My son, God will provide himself a Lamb for a burnt offering.' He later named the place 'Jehovah- Jireh'--the Lord will see to it or provide! This prophecy says many things:
1. The Lord will provide himself as the Lamb: for our Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, is God!
2. The Lord will provide for himself a Lamb: for the Lord God is the offended majesty to whom and for whom the blood was shed, that he might be both just and justifier (Rom. 3:23-26).
3. The Lord will provide or see to it that redemption for all his sheep, the honoring of his law, the satisfaction of his justice, the fulfillment of his covenant, and the eternal glory of his Son is accomplished in full. Nothing will be left undone. 'It is finished,' the Saviour cried; and it is!
v. 9. 'Abraham bound his son and laid him on the altar.' Isaac did not resist the will of his father, even as Christ Jesus was willing and obedient even to the death of the cross (Phil. 2:6-8).
Christ could not have come, could not have been arrested, could not have been bound to the tree, and could not have died except it pleased the Father.
vv. 10-13. Here Isaac, the type of Christ, ends; for Isaac was removed from the altar and a ram took his place, which also is a picture of the Lord Jesus dying for us. The ram pictures Christ, our sacrifice; and Isaac pictures the believer, who is spared.