“Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”
Jesus declared the whole Bible testified of Him. Sometimes, the testimony is the form of prophecy, other times, it is in the form of a type, or illustration. Here, we find a vivid illustrative picture of the cross of Christ. Let’s examine the details.
Abraham was instructed to take his only son, whom he loved, on a three day journey to Moriah, and offer him as a burnt offering. Upon arriving, his son, who would have been close to twenty years old, willingly allowed himself to be tied to the altar. Just as the knife was approaching his throat, God spoke and provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac. We see many parallels to the cross.
First, the sending of Jesus was a plan orchestrated in the council chambers of heaven. In other words, it was the plan of God. Peter declared, Jesus was crucified according to “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).
Second, it was the only Son of God who was sent as the ransom for mankind. The Psalmist declared the salvation of the soul is costly (Psalm 49:8). At the cross we see just how costly. No angel, man, or amount of cash, would suffice to pay for the sins of the world. Nothing short of the blood of God would be sufficient. Peter wrote,
“. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1Peter 1:18-19
Third, the crucifixion took place on the mountain range of Moriah, where Jesus willingly offered Himself as the sacrifice for humanity. Jesus had openly declared, no one could take His life from Him but that He would willingly lay it down (John 10:18). We read, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father, and submitted to the cross. He was taken by force, condemned, beaten, and crucified to provide forgiveness for our sins.
At this point, Isaac no longer serves as a picture of Christ, but as a picture of mankind. As the knife approaches his throat, God stops Abraham’s hand, and we see two things vividly. First, God will have nothing to do with human sacrifice. That is not how the wrath of God is appeased. Second, no sacrifice, no matter how great, can cover our sin; there must be a substitute. In the bushes, a ram is caught, and becomes the substitute for Isaac. A promise is then given for all of mankind that God would later provide Himself as the substitute for our sins (Genesis 22:8).
Whatever joy must have filled the heart of Abraham, knowing that his son was rescued, pales in comparison to the joy that we should celebrate, knowing that Christ took our place and paid for all our sins.