Bible Types in the Story of Abraham Offering of Isaac

by Dr. Michael Smith on February 8, 2011 · 1 comment

Genesis chapters 22-24

John 8:56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.”

Introduction

No doubt Abraham had many tests of faith from the time in Ur of the Chaldees, when the true God spoke to him as he lived there among his people, who made and worshipped idols. Monotheism, while once known and practiced in the days of Adam, had diminished as Paul describes in Romans from the worship of the Creator God to a worship of the creature more than the creator, exhibited in the worship of gods of wood and stone. In Abraham’s day the godly line of Abel had about died out, until God in his sovereignty chose to speak to Abraham. The Scriptures declare that Terah, the father of Abram, was a maker of idols. Abram’s revelation of the one true God was an act of sovereign grace as no preacher or missionary imparted it to him, and God’s choice of Abram to receive the revelation cannot be described any other way.

The revelation set Abram on a new course and called for a new direction in which he looked for a city, whose builder and maker was God. Abram’s faith was imperfect, growing, learning and we see this exhibited in his taking with him from Ur his father and his nephew Lot, both in direct violation of the command of God to get away from his kinsmen. So they came to Haran and there they stayed until Terah was dead, and this event seems to have once again spurred Abram to action.

But of all the stories we could cite of Abram’s journey of faith, and in light of the statement of Christ concerning Abraham’s revelation of Jesus Christ himself, we have to ask the question—where in Abraham’s life did he come to understand the truth that as Savior—Jesus Christ himself was coming into the world to die? I believe Abraham was taught this truth in the offering of Isaac. Those of us who look at Bible Typology understand that God would sometimes teach great truths by allowing them to be lived out in a story. There is none greater than the story of Isaac’s sacrifice. Of course, a type is never perfect and as we know, Isaac did not die, but what is portrayed in the account certainly allows us a great look into the heart of God and showed Abraham a glimpse of the coming of which Jesus declared that “Abraham rejoiced to see my day and was glad.” Let’s pick up the great story and see what Abraham saw so many years before the advent of Jesus Christ on the earth.

Genesis 22 begins with God testing Abraham and asked him to offer his son, Isaac. The King James word is “tempt” and requires that we think beyond how we usually define the word “tempt.” The Holy Spirit in the Holy Writ is careful to tell us that Isaac was Abraham’s only son. The writer of Hebrews says that in Isaac resting all the blessings and promises of God not only to Abraham himself, but those who would come after him. And the Holy Spirit reminds us also in 22:2 that Abraham loved Isaac. We get a glimpse in type here of a heavenly Father foreshadowed in Abraham, and his love for his son who was about to become a sacrifice.

Notice first the significance of the place of sacrifice. It was on the peaks of Mt Moriah. This was not accident. In later years this is where the Temple would be placed. In fact, even in the mosque which today covers the site is a large stone used in the sacrifice of all the animals and you can still see the drilled holes were the blood of more than one million lambs would drain off the altar and out into the Kidron Valley during the Passover celebration. But there is one other point worthy of consideration here. Calvary, the place of the Lord’s offering was also on the same peak. God ordered Abraham to offer Isaac on the same hill top that later his Son would hang and die for the sins of the world.

Abraham arose early the next morning and taking wood, and two of his young men and with Isaac when to the place God had appointed. Beginning in verse 4 the transaction of sacrifice began. First, it says they traveled three days and there Abraham stopped and left the two young men. Now, it might be stretching typology, but it seems the significance of three days is no accident of inspiration. Why was Jesus three days and three nights in the grave? Abraham leaves the two men there. If you will, think for a moment of the cross. There were three men there as well, but the two thieves never entered into the transaction of what God was doing there. In fact, the transaction was so private that God put his handkerchief over the sun and darkness ensued for three hours while Jesus paid the debt and make an end to sin forever.

But look in verse 5 at the faith of Abraham. “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.” Do you see that? Abraham had already given Isaac up in his heart. Isaac was already dead and yet Abraham is talking about both of them returning. Hebrews 11:17 (remember that the Scriptures are always the best commentary on themselves) tells us that Abraham already believed that if God was to take Isaac that he would raise him up from the dead—because in the son were all the promises of God.

But then notice the next verse of our text. Genesis 22:6—Abraham takes the wood (which is a picture of sin—remember Jesus died on a cross of wood) from off the back of the donkey (which is a picture of the sinner) and places it on the back of the son. Abraham (a picture of God the Father) takes the fire in one hand (the judgment of God against sin) and the knife in the other—and “they went both of them together.” This great phrase in the KJV is mentioned twice here (verses 6, 8) underlining as it were the importance that the sacrifice to come was agreed upon by both the father and the son. I remind you of the Biblical phrase which says that “Jesus was slain from before the foundation of the world.” Jesus’ death was not accident. He was not a martyr. He did not get killed trying to reform the world. He died willingly, purposefully for you and me and he carried our sins and nailed them to his cross. God the Father and God the Son in the eons of eternity past before the first mudsill of this world was ever laid and worlds spoken into existence, God knew that if he made man that man would sin and require a Savior and Jesus stepped up and said—Father, I will go and redeem them! What love it this? What great grace? What sovereign power? He loved us even when we were unlovely.

Verses 7-8 are some of the greatest verses of the Bible. Isaac says to Abraham—but dad—where is the sacrifice. Abraham replies—“My son, God shall provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” How interesting that Abraham should use those words—a burnt offering some 1,000 years before Moses and the Tabernacle would institute a burnt offering for sin.

And of course you know the rest of this story. Abraham builds an altar and laid the wood and tied his son and was ready to plunge the knife before stopped by an angel. God provided a substitute, and atonement was made, but there is a final point of the story to be made. Isaac came down off that mountain that day on resurrection ground. Hebrews 11 says that he was as good as dead in Abraham’s mind and Abraham believed that if he died God would raise him up. But it was the resurrected Isaac who became the reason in Genesis 24 for the searching out of a bride. Because of the resurrection of Christ the need for a bride, composed of the body of Christ—those Christians from Jesus’ death and resurrection up until that last soul saved before the Rapture are part of what the Bible calls the bride of Christ.

We will leave Genesis 24 for another day to talk of those things, but I believe it was here that Abraham saw His day and rejoiced and was glad. Thank God for the cross and the sacrifice and the redemption, prefigured in Isaac and consummated in Isaac’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus.

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About Dr. Michael Smith

The Lord has blessed me to serve as a pastor, teacher, professor, and writer on Christian topics for most of my life. It has been my joy to see many young men through my ministry to take up the Gospel mantel and run the race of faith, bringing the message of Christ around the world.

  • Dr HL Champion

    Welcome to Baptist.org, Dr Smith. We are glad to have you on our Writers team. May God use this platform to enlarge your ministry!