In a commanding voice the Lord instructed Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering (Gen. 22:1-15). The message was clear and has significance for us as a portrait of love’s obedience.
If ever an account so clearly parallels the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it is this. Significant beyond its time, the record was not kept simply as a trial of faith for one man. Affirming the historical and religious importance of that event is, in the midst of a mosque in Jerusalem, the rock upon which Isaac lay beneath the point of Abraham’s dagger.
Isaac was Abraham’s life, the heir apparent to his father’s treasures. “Take now your son,” (Gen. 22:2) said the Lord. No comforting preamble, just a succession of statements, ending with one command. Isaac must be sacrificed!
The burnt offering of Hebrew animal sacrifices became known as the “holocaust”—an offering totally consumed and ascending in the smoke of its altar fire. Such an offering connotes complete consecration to God.
Steadily up the steeps of Mount Moriah, Abraham ascended toward the rocky summit. That moment is symbolic to Christ’s walk toward His crucifixion. Abraham and Isaac simply prefigured the provision by God as Christ became “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). The experience of both Isaac and Jesus is filled with holocaustal meaning. Each walked on a Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow). Each would have its peculiar altar and fire, offerer and victim. But in Abraham’s case the angel of the Lord, satisfied with Abraham’s obedience and Isaac’s submission, halted the process by saying, “Do not lay a hand on the boy… Now I know you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Gen 22:12).
In Jesus’ case God the Father, satisfied with His Son’s gracious love, accepted Him, with no one else to stand in His place. Jesus’ life was offered with the only words that would finalize the essential act: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
The crucifixion event culminates in the verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
David Laeger, The War Cry