“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb...’” —Genesis 22:7-8
God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Obedient to God’s command, Abraham set out in faith. When Abraham was about to slay Isaac, God intervened, sparing Isaac’s life, because Abraham showed that he feared God by not withholding his son from God. When we think of this story, it sounds unbelievably savage and difficult for us to imagine that God would even make this request; it seems incongruent with who we know God to be. Yet, we must consider this event through the eyes of God by asking: What is God up to? What is He trying to teach Abraham and us through this story?
What we see is God revealing something profound to Abraham and to us. In the culture of Abraham’s time, child sacrifice was common. People would display their devotion to the various gods that they worshipped by offering their child; they believed the gods required it. This event might have been what Abraham was worried about all along: that one day, God might ask him to sacrifice his son. But God showed through this event that He was not like the other gods that were worshipped. In fact, later in Scripture, God revealed to His people that they were not to engage in child sacrifice at all.
As Abraham’s story continued, Genesis 22:13-14 tells us, “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.’” This whole event was to point to a future promise made by God, which brings the story of Abraham full circle. Thousands of years later, on that same range of mountains, Jesus—the One and only Son of God—would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, and days later, be laid on the wood of the cross. On the mountain of the LORD, He provided.
In the face of humanity’s rebellion and sin, God did not require sacrifice; He Himself was the sacrifice. Colossians 2:13-14 says, “He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Christ’s death on the cross, though it may have appeared savage in the moment, was God’s ultimate act of provision, fulfilling God’s very first promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).
PRAYER: Lord God, I humbly fall to my knees in awe of You. Thank You for providing the ultimate sacrifice—Your One and only Son, in whose name I pray. Amen!