He [the angel] said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 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. Genesis 22:12-13
Just as Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac, an angel calls from heaven to stop him.
Why this test? This passage tells us it is to know that Abraham fears God and would not withhold his son. But God knows everything. It is Abraham who now knows his commitment to God. In the waiting, Isaac could have become an idol to Abraham; clinging to the promise over the promise-maker. We can think we know what we will do, but we aren’t certain until we are face to face with it. God has BIG plans for Abraham.
This is often a hard story for people to wrap their heads around. But it is a beautiful picture of what God has planned for us. He will be the one to sacrifice His only Son.
We see a glimpse of the power, relief, freedom of Jesus taking our place. The ram appears to be the sacrifice, just as Jesus appears to take our place. A substitution of our sin payment for His righteousness.
Mount Moriah, the mountain where Abraham takes Isaac, is the same mountain that will be the site of the Israelite King Solomon’s great temple where God will dwell with His people as they offer animal sacrifices for their sins, and later the place where Jesus will be crucified.
The Bible is a complete picture of God’s plan to save us. Through the lives of those who lived long before us, He is giving us a peek into how the story will play out. It shows us that Jesus was God’s plan from the very beginning and helps us understand the significance of what Jesus did for us when He came to die on the cross as the final and perfect sacrifice.
Question: How do you see Jesus and God’s plan for us in this story…the waiting, the testing, the trusting, the location, the sacrifice, the substitute?