Welcome back, by now you should have read the story in Genesis 22:1-19.
Once again, we take a look at Abraham. As you know from the first lesson, Abraham was a man that was personally called by God, and God had made a covenant with him. Despite all of this, Abraham disobeyed God on several occasions and tried to do things His own way. But he was starting to learn what it meant to follow God.
After decades of trying, Abraham and Sarah finally gave birth to a son, named Isaac. And God decided to test Abraham in the story you just read.
Abraham is called to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Now, burnt offerings were made back then as a way to atone for your sins. And as we saw in the last lesson, Abraham had sinned multiple times.
In this story we’re all led to believe that Isaac is going to die. Abraham, I’m sure was stressed beyond belief. He says almost nothing to his son, but when he does speak it really stands out.
Isaac asks his father where the burnt offering is, and Abraham responds in Genesis 22:8 by saying,
“God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
And there is our set-up. We’ve seen the gun on the wall, if you will.
And you know how the story goes. Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son, but before he actually does anything, God relents. He doesn’t demand Isaac’s life, and instead he provides the sacrifice Abraham needs in order to receive forgiveness for his sins.
And here is the payoff, in Genesis 22:13,
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
So in this particular story, we see a set-up and payoff. But like many stories in the Bible, this is a microcosm of the larger narrative of the Bible.
In other words, there is an even bigger payoff coming.
Fast forward a couple thousand years to John the Baptist – a prophet who lived during the time of Jesus. It was said that John was sent by God to prepare the way for the Lord, to let people know that Jesus was coming. He lived in the wilderness, preaching and calling people to repent. When Jesus arrives on the scene, here is what John says about him in John 1:29,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Do you see the connection? God provided Abraham with a ram that would cover his own sins. In the same way, God would later provide a Lamb to take away the sin of the world.
There is another important connection to Christ here in this story of Abraham. Did you notice in verse 2, who did God tell Abraham to sacrifice? How did he describe him? “Take your son, your only son Isaac.”
John 3:16 might be the most famous verse in the Bible. It says,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
So initially, God says to Abraham, you must give up your only son, but then God relents. In the story, He provides a substitute in the form of a ram. But later, for the sins of the entire world, God – not Abraham, not you, not me – God is the one who gives up his only son.
This story, of course, is not the only example of lambs being used to atone for our sins. In the next video, we will discuss why lambs were chosen as a sacrifice, and another story that points to Jesus as the lamb of God.