Advent of the Redeemer – Part 2

During the four weeks of Advent, I want to explore four pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament.

As I shared last week, my pastor (Nathan Franckhauser) teaches that, “Old Testament believers looked to a Messiah, the Seed of Abraham, who was coming. We look to a Messiah who died on a cross and was risen three days later and will return.”

Having looked at Jesus as Creator and how He modeled redemption through creation, now I want to look at the Akedah. Arguably the most important scene in the Old Testament. The binding of Isaac. The moment where love drove Abraham to sacrifice his only son.

My oldest son is an anomaly in my home. He is quiet obedience. Chore-after-chore, from spider killing to vomit cleaning, I’ve come to take it for granted that he will say ‘okay’ and head off to do whatever I ask of him.

Considering the fact that he is sandwiched between two headstrong sisters who employ a host of theatrics to voice their dissatisfaction, I probably take advantage of his compliant attitude too often.

He does have his limits though. And I’m sure I’d see an immediate spark a rebellion if I asked him to lug a pile of wood up the hill out back so I could sacrifice him.

Just a sneaking suspicion.

I’ve always wondered about Isaac. Was he oblivious? Too young to understand? Unquestioningly obedient to authority? Blindly stupid? What would compel him to traipse alongside his dad, obediently carrying the bundle of wood he was going to die on?

In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus, the Jewish historian, claimed that Isaac was twenty-five years old at this point. The 18th-century British theologian, Adam Clarke, commentated that it was more likely Isaac was thirty-three at the time of his sacrifice.

Thirty-three. That puts a different filter on the picture.

The Only Son – The Loved Son

Now the picture I see is that of an obedient and fully cognizant son in the prime of his life, willingly submitting to his father.

Isaac:

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Genesis 22:2

Jesus:

A voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Matthew 3:17

He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

We saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 1John 4:9

The Offering

Why a burnt offering? When Jesus would later be nailed to a Roman cross, why would God direct Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering? Leviticus 3:1-5 instructs the Israelites on the Peace offering. This offering would be slayed outside the tent of meeting and after, it was to be sacrificed and burnt. The aroma would symbolically rise (or ascend) to the Lord as a pleasing, soothing fragrance.

In Genesis 22:3, God instructed Abraham to travel to the land of Moriah, to a specific mountain,to offer his son as a burnt offering.

The temple mount in Jerusalem is traditionally recognized as the location of Abraham’s sacrifice. Jerusalem means City of Peace. God instructed Abraham to travel to the City of Peace where the Son of Promise would be slayed on a hill outside the tent of meeting after which he would ascend to God—the ultimate sacrifice for our peace.

God sent Abraham to the City of Peace where the Son of Promise would one day be killed for us. The ultimate sacrifice. Click To Tweet

Paul wrote, “…walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

The Obedient Son

It was Jesus who said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these [the Scriptures] that testify about Me” John 5:39.

As the fully cognizant and completely obedient Son, he understood the type of his sacrifice and his ascension. He had commanded Abraham to portray it. He had inspired Moses to record it.

Jesus understood the type. He had commanded Abraham to portray it. He had inspired Moses to record it. Click To Tweet

In Luke 9:5, Luke records, “When the days were approaching for His [Jesus] ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem.”

The Journey to Jerusalem

Isaac:

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. Genesis 22:3

Jesus:

As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here...They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:

“Hosanna!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;

Three Days of Death

What other details now enter our picture—besides the son, two servants, and a donkey? We see Abraham, a man obedient to God. A man who the writer of Hebrews writes about in this way, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.”  He [Abraham] considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him [Isaac] back as a type.”

Abraham who received the command of death, took Isaac on a three-day journey of death to Jerusalem, steadfastly believing that God would raise his only begotten son back to life.

Abraham took Isaac on a 3-day journey of death to Jerusalem, believing God would raise his only begotten son. Click To Tweet

Isaac:

On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Genesis 22:4

Jesus:

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Matthew 16:21

He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:4

The Wood & The Wine

Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.

Isaac willingly carried the wood for his sacrifice up the hill where Jerusalem would later stand. To the city where Jesus would complete the picture. Mount Moriah has fascinating entymology. Moriah can connect to the Hebrew word marah which means bitter. It can also connect to the Hebrew word for mor (myrrh).

It is interesting to note that in Mark 15:23, Jesus was offered a cup of wine mixed with myrrh (mor) as he hung on the cross. This was an ancient narcotic-like painkiller. He did not take it, choosing instead to bear the full brunt of our sins. He did later take the bitter (marah) wine they offered, this was given as a refreshment, not to dull or ease pain.

God Alone – God, Alone

Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there;and we will worship and return to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Genesis 22:5-6

I’m not smart enough or brave enough to touch the idea that Abraham carried the knife and the fire and that the father and son walked that hill alone. However, I do see the picture of Jesus, bleeding and bruised, abandoned by all friends, but walking that road with his Father.

God Provides Himself, the Sacrifice

Isaac:

Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

Jesus:

Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18

Isaac:

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:9-12

Jesus:

When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. Luke 23:33

Our Sacrificial King

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.”

Jesus, the horn of our salvation, was caught in a thicket of thorns himself and then bound instead of Isaac—to die in our place.

[He] hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. Luke 1:69

And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

On a mountain, in the land of Moriah, Jesus provided Himself for our salvation, our forgiveness, our righteousness, our redemption, our freedom. What can we do but respond as Abraham and Isaac would, in loving obedience to our King?

Reflect:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;  because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

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20 thoughts on “Advent of the Redeemer – Part 2”

  1. Oh Stephanie, this is profound beyond words. The scriptures you aligned, where the Old and New Testament accounts echo back and forth, are truly incredible. I will be meditating on this for a while. “Jesus, the horn of our salvation, was caught in a thicket of thorns himself and then bound instead of Isaac—to die in our place.” What a gift. You are right in your conclusion, our best response is to live a life pleasing before Him in holiness and gratitude. God bless you and your ministry!

  2. This is amazing! I learned so much reading this today. I have always pictured Isaac as a little boy, so that was something new to think about. And what a great reminder of all the connections between Jesus’ death and Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of his son. Thank you for giving me so much to think about!

    1. I always had the felt-board picture of an old Abraham and a little boy Isaac, walking up the mountain in my mind. It does exercise our preconceptions to view it this way. But as someone commented on Instagram, even had Isaac been a boy still he could have easily overpowered his elderly father. That too gave me something to think about. Thank you for reading, Emily!

  3. Great theology in this post, Stephanie. I didn’t know that Jerusalem meant “City of Peace.” WOW! And isn’t it ironic that it has been the place of historical unrest? I mean, Israel in general has been the target of wars and all kinds of political challenges.

    The other irony is that everyone thinks that Jesus came to bring peace, but he didn’t. He came to bridge the gap between humanity and its Creator, and that doesn’t always bring outwardly peace but conflict. We must leave our known comforts, and follow Christ at all costs, including, at times, loosing the very things we love in this world. But the love we receive in return, the inner peace, far outweighs them all! Bless you, Lisa Q

    1. Yes, Lisa. That is an interesting point. It reminds me of what my pastor said once regarding conflict. He said he loves resolution more than he hates conflict. Is that the heart of Jesus? That to be the Prince of Peace, to bring ultimate peace, he must love resolution enough to bring the necessary conflict it will take to achieve it?

  4. Hi Stephanie. I loved Part 1, and now Part 2. This is shaping up to be a very thought provoking, awe-inspiring series. Really good stuff! I don’t think I’ve every considered all the parallels between the sacrifices of Isaac and Jesus – not all in one sitting, anyway. And how breathtaking it is to consider my passionate reluctance to be in the shoes of both Abraham and Isaac, while the Father and the Son planned and followed through so willingly with our favor in their hearts. How can we not respond by offering ourselves. Thank you for this inspiring post.

    1. I’m with you, Stephen. I’d never really sat down and thought through it all in one sitting until recently. And I know I’m missing so much more. But parallel after parallel just started exploding on the page and it put me more in awe of our Awesome Savior. Thank you for your thoughts.

  5. The Christmas Mass at my son’s church last Christmas Eve featured a discussion of Isaac as foreshadowing Christ’s sacrifice. I had not thought of that before.

    I too wonder about Isaac’s submission to sacrifice. Surely he could have taken the elderly father and escaped.

    The Holy Spirit is amazing in every age.

    Merry Christmas! God bless!

  6. I learned so much from your post and from all research and digging you did for this blog. I had never made the connection between Issac and Jesus before reading you post and it makes so much sense.

  7. First, it’s like you were describing my kids! I have a wonderfully compliant son who is helpful and faithful to the bone. He’s sandwiched between 2 spirited sisters. Jeez!
    As far as the story, I’ve always been bothered by this story. I suppose that’s why it’s such a powerful testimony. What kind of God asks that of his followers? Then I remember, God volunteered as tribute. He submitted to his own demands for blood to wipe out sin. That is the tragedy and the hope of the cross.
    We had a guest preacher say recently that Moriah and Golgotha are the same mountain geographically and spiritually. I thought that was pretty profound. Good thoughts as usual, Stephanie.

  8. Wow! This blew my away, Stephanie. I never connected all the dots in this story that you do such a beautiful job with. And this…

    “God sent Abraham to the City of Peace where the Son of Promise would one day be killed for us. The ultimate sacrifice.”

    Oh, my that deserves a hearty, “Amen!”

  9. What a deep, awe-inspiring post! There is so much here. I love how you wove the two stories of Isaac and Jesus together. It really painted the picture well and helped me see the foreshadowing of Jesus in the story of Isaac. Your challenge of our response is both uplifting and encouraging but also convicting.

    “On a mountain, in the land of Moriah, Jesus provided Himself for our salvation, our forgiveness, our righteousness, our redemption, our freedom. What can we do but respond as Abraham and Isaac would, in loving obedience to our King?”

    Amen!

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