We come now to the third and final perspective of the offering up of Isaac by Abraham, God’s. God was the only other Individual present when this event transpired, and His perspective is certainly the most relevant. What exactly did God have in mind when He commanded Abraham to do this in the first place? What did God feel would be accomplished by this test?
First of all, we understand that God, the Omniscient all-knowing One, did not gain any new information through this. The Lord says, “For now I know that you truly fear God” (Gen. 22:12 NLT), but we know that God was already aware of Abraham’s faith long before this (Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:3). God was not asking Abraham to prove something to Him, He already knew. But in carrying this commandment out, Abraham demonstrated to himself, Isaac, and everyone else who would hear of this event thereafter that his faith was genuine. This is the “perfecting work of justification” in the life of Abraham spoken of by James (James 2:21-22). Justified before God? No. “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. (Rom. 4:2). So how did this justify him? It justified that his faith was valid to everyone else. It was an outward evidence of an inward faith. It showed the reality through his actions of a trust that was already present inside of him. It proved to himself, Isaac, and everyone else that his trust in God was not merely something that he claimed to have, but was real. But the faith itself that he already possessed was known by God long before he climbed up Mt. Moriah. God did not need Abraham to prove it to Him.
One of the most peculiar statements made in this entire chapter is Abraham’s response to Isaac when asked about what would be sacrificed:
“Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.” (Genesis 22:8)
Yet in Verse 13, we see a ram is offered in the place of Isaac, not a lamb. But Abraham’s enigmatic prophecy would be fulfilled centuries later, as testified to by John the Baptist:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 CSB)
a ram was provided at this time as a temporary substitution for Isaac, but the Lord Jesus Christ was ultimately the Lamb which would be offered in his stead, and in the stead of any who will put their faith in Him. The sins of man consign each of us to a place atop that pile of wood and under the knife of execution, but there is One Who will take our rightful place there. Jesus Christ bore in Himself the punishment that each of us deserves, paying the price for our sins.
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” (Genesis 22:14 KJV)
Abraham called the place where this occurred “Jehovah-Jireh”, or, God will provide. We tend to take so many other lessons from this incident: Abraham’s unquestioning faith, Isaac’s obedience to his father, etc. But the significance that Abraham himself gave to the site was what God did there, and moreover what He would do there at a later time! He did not call the place “The Mountain of My Testing”, or “The Hill Where I Almost Lost Isaac.” He called it the place where God provides. Abraham’s offering up of Isaac was not ultimately about what either of these two giants of faith did there (although it was astounding), it was about the fact that God would provide the One Who would be the substitution for ALL of us!
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published February 26, 2010]
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]
Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.