Open Your Bible
Genesis 22:1-19, Genesis 25:11, Genesis 26:1-5, Genesis 26:12-25, John 3:16-17
BY Erin Davis
Any woman who has held a chubby-faced cherub in her arms surely gets squeamish at the idea of surrendering a child. Though it knots up our stomachs, the pattern of parents surrendering children to the Lord is inescapably woven throughout the Bible.
We see it with Moses’s mama as she tenderly laid him in a basket and placed him in the river (Exodus 2:1–10). Perhaps we remember our own bins of baby clothes stashed in the closet as we read about Samuel, whose mother, Hannah, gave up her toddler to serve in the temple, and then faithfully delivered a “little robe” to him each year (1 Samuel 1:1–2:21). And as we consider the life of Isaac, the promised miracle child of Abraham, we see this surrender in graphic detail.
If this is just a human story about a human family, frankly, it stinks. How could a good God ask a father to give up the child of promise he was given? How could a good father agree to such a request? It is hard to wrap our hearts around the situation. But this is more than a story about one human family. This account of Abraham and Isaac points to the bigger story. Way back in Genesis, God was showing His people a preview of the gospel. If we anxiously look away from this story or race through it to find an easier pill to swallow, we will miss the stunning parallels.
Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice on his back (Genesis 22:6).
Jesus carried the cross on His back, on the way to Golgotha (John 19:17).
Isaac was bound and led to the altar (Genesis 22:9).
Christ was bound and led to the cross (Mark 15:1).
Isaac is described as Abraham and Sarah’s beloved and “only son” (Genesis 22:2).
Centuries later, God the Father would declare from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Because of Abraham’s obedience, the angel of the Lord promised, “All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed my command” (Genesis 22:18).
Because of Christ’s obedience, “[He] purchased people for God by [His] blood from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
But these stories diverge at a critical juncture. Isaac’s life was ultimately spared (Genesis 22:11–14), but for Christ there would be no ram in the thicket. The Father would follow through with the sacrifice so that all sons and daughters could be spared.
We will all have “Isaacs” to lay down on the altar. But our stories are no more about us than Isaac’s moment on the mountain was about him. Our lives are stamped by the gospel. Every baby in the bullrushes, every “tiny robe,” every day we choose to hold our own beloveds with open palms—we are reminded that our God willingly sacrificed His beloved Son so that we might be called the children of God (John 1:12).