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Read Genesis 22:8
The Sacrificial Son
By Danny Saavedra
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” – Genesis 22:8 (NIV)
Have you ever been asked to do something completely out of the ordinary; something seemingly insane . . . something you never thought you’d have to do? If you have, you’re not alone. In Genesis 22, God gave a strange command to Abraham.
God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Wait, what? You mean the son of promise? The son of his old age? The one from whom a great nation would be built? Yes, that one. God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:2 NIV).
There is no doubt that this must have been a heart-wrenching, indescribably painful thing for Abraham. Can you imagine being asked to sacrifice what you hold nearest and dearest? Would you be obedient like Noah or run in the opposite direction like Jonah? Think about how unreasonable and insane God’s request sounded. Isaac was Abraham’s beloved son; the future of God’s covenant rested on him. Isaac was a miracle, God’s gift in response to the faith of Abraham and Sarah.
But Abraham heard God and immediately obeyed Him in faith. Sometimes in our lives, we’ll be faced with having to make what seems to be an impossible, difficult choice—a choice we may not understand. But when we understand the character of God and His desire to bless and fill us, we can faithfully obey Him.
You see, Abraham knew that God’s will would never contradict His promise, so this faithful father held on to the promise, which said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called” (Genesis 21:12 NKJV). Abraham believed that even if God allowed him to sacrifice his son, that He could raise Isaac from the dead. In this we see the true nature of faith. It doesn’t demand explanations; it rests on promises. That’s why Abraham was able to say to his servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you,” and why he was able to tell his son, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:5, 8 NIV).
Now, something that often gets lost in this story is Isaac’s faith and obedience. So often, when we picture this story, we imagine Isaac as a young child. But most biblical scholars believe he was between 18 and 33 years old—after all, he had to be big and strong enough to carry all the wood for the burnt offering.
Isaac’s story gives us an amazing parallel to God’s plan for redemption through Jesus. It’s widely accepted that Isaac knew what was happening. He carried the wood of his own sacrifice and remained silent as he was being placed on the altar. He didn’t protest when Abraham raised the knife. Instead, he willingly gave himself up to his father . . . just like Jesus! Clement of Alexandria wrote, “He (Jesus) is Isaac . . . for he was the son of Abraham as Christ the Son of God and a sacrifice as the Lord.”
In the end, God stopped Abraham’s hand and provided another sacrifice. So Abraham named that mountain “The Lord Will Provide.” Through the birth of Jesus, Christmas signifies the epic moment where God provided for all mankind. Today, as we get closer to Christmas, find time to reflect on all those moments in life when you didn’t have the answers, but God provided.