Friday, April 2, 2010

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jesus

Genesis 22 has always been an uncomfortable chapter in the Bible for me to read. The gist of the story is that God tests Abraham and tells him to sacrifice Isaac, his son, as a burnt sacrifice to the Lord. This was slightly problematic because God had prophecied that He would use Isaac, Abraham's only son, to bring about a great nation, and that was gonna be hard to do if Isaac was dead. Nonetheless, Abraham took Isaac up to the mountain and was about to bring the knife down when God stopped him and provided a ram for the sacrifice. God was satisfied with Abraham's obedience and later fulfilled His promise to muliply Abraham's descendants.

I always find it uncomfortable around verses 7-10. In 7, Isaac asks his father where the lamb was for the burnt offering.
In 8, Abraham tells his son that God will provide it.
In 9, Abraham lays Isaac on the wood.
In 10, he raises the knife.

This is where I would fail. Even knowing the end of the story, I still wince whenever I think of Abraham raising the knife to slaughter his son, his only son, whom he loved (v. 2). I don't even have kids, but I can't imagine doing that. Even knowing now, on this side of the sacrifice, that God would provide the ram in place of the son, or even knowing that God could raise the son from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19), I don't think I could have lifted my arm to offer my son as a sacrifice.

I was thinking about this this morning, and thinking about the many parallels there are between Abraham's offer of his son to the Lord and God's offer of His Son to us. The son carried the wood that he would be placed upon. The son had been prophecied to be a blessing to many nations. He was the one and only son, who the father loved. God provided the lamb for the sacrifice.

There is one main difference between these two. God stopped Abraham from going all the way. When He provided the lamb, Abraham got to take Isaac back down the mountain. On the cross, however, Jesus suffered and died. There was no other sacrifice to take His place.

I was thinking about how I'm always uncomfortable thinking about Genesis 22, but it doesn't phase me much when I think about how Jesus died. It's become almost old to me. I can say Jesus died, and not bat an eyelash. I offer up a "Thanks, God!" like I would thank someone for giving me $20. This is much bigger than $20. He gave His Son, causing Them to be in disunity for the first time in all eternity. That's big.

I pray that on this Good Friday that we will not belittle the Cross of Christ, but remember exactly what that meant to Him, not only the physical suffering and death, but that He took our sins and their punishment upon Himself. And praise God that it didn't all end there, because if Good Friday had happened without Easter, it would not have been good at all, and we are to be pitied the most of all people.

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" ...And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
-Mark 15:33-34, 37-39