As I was reading about Abraham's command to sacrifice his son Isaac, I reflected on how the Bible truly is all about Messiah. Two thousand years before Yeshua even came to the earth, God was preparing his people to understand what Messiah was all about. Abraham's sacrifice shows us a vivid picture of the sacrifice God would make in order to save His people from their sins.
Genesis 22:2 (KJV)
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Isaac was Abraham's son of promise, born late in his parents' life, and loved deeply by his mother and father. Yet, he was to be sacrificed as an elevation offering upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah. Can you imagine the heartache this command of God must have caused Abraham? He had waited so long to have this son, how could he carry out this command?
Yet, Abraham prepared to do so.
Genesis 22:9, 10 (KJV)
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
At this point the angel of the Lord stepped in and stopped Abraham from carrying out the command.
Genesis 22:12 (KJV)
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
Although this was a test about Abraham's faith and obedience to God, we see little hints about its further meaning. Look at the following similarities between Isaac's ordeal and Yeshua's.
Isaac was Abraham's son; Yeshua was God's Son. Isaac was taken to Mount Moriah to be killed as a sacrifice; Yeshua was killed on Mount Moriah.
Next, notice the interesting statement made by Abraham:
Genesis 22:5 (KJV)
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
The comment Abraham made to his young men about his and Isaac's returning to the men was either a lie, or Abraham truly believed that Isaac would be coming back with him to the men. The only way that this could have been a true statement was if Abraham believed that Isaac would be raised from the dead. This would also seem to indicate that Abraham had such faith in the promises that God had given him about having descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky that he was willing to do whatever God commanded him even if the command seemed counterintuitive.
The similarity here between Isaac and Yeshua is unmistakable. Although Isaac was actually never killed, Abraham thought that Isaac would be dead. Hence it was as if Isaac had been raised from the dead. Yeshua, of course, was raised.
Notice this as well:
Genesis 22:8 (KJV)
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Abraham indicated to Isaac that God would provide the lamb for the sacrifice. This must have been a painful statement for Abraham to make knowing that Isaac would be the "lamb." In the same way, God provided Yeshua as the lamb of sacrifice for mankind's sins. This must have been difficult for Him, as well.
The one noticeable difference between the accounts is that Abraham was finally commanded not to kill Isaac.
Genesis 22:13 (KJV)
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
For Yeshua, there was no possible substitute. He was the only one qualified to die in the place of sinful mankind. He was the only one who fully and perfectly satisfied the righteous Law of God.
Lastly, we read in Hebrews that Isaac was to be viewed as a "type" of Messiah, a precursor to help God's people understand what was to come.
Hebrews 11:17-19 (KJV)
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
Despite what it must have cost God emotionally, He actually gave up His Son so that His people could be saved. For those of us who are saved, this gift is beyond comprehension. Our only response can be deep gratitude!