And He said, Now take your son, Isaac, your only one whom you love, and go into the land of Moriah. And there offer him for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will say to you.
– Genesis 22:2
God told Abraham to offer up his son Isaac for a burnt offering. He obeys. Isaac asks where the lamb for the sacrifice is, and Abraham replies, “God will provide a lamb.” He gets to the altar, puts Isaac on the altar and prepares to take his son’s life. God tells him to stop, and provides a ram in Isaac’s place, just as Abraham trusts God to do.
I used to think that, while this was a really awesome story of Abraham’s faith, God’s provision, and a good picture of Christ’s substitutionary death, that was all it was. It didn’t have personal importance to me. It was just something that happened to some other people thousands of years ago.
However, in reading some other verses, I found God’s stopping Abraham from killing his son was extremely important for me also:
And God said to Abraham, Let it not be evil in your eyes because of the boy, and on account of your slave-girl. All that Sarah says to you, listen to her voice, for in Isaac your Seed shall be called.
– Genesis 21:12
God’s promise came through Isaac. This promise was not about the nation of Israel, but the One who would come from the line of Isaac: Jesus Christ:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it has been written, “Cursed is everyone having been hung on a tree;” that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. … the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his Seed (it does not say, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” which is Christ).
– Galatians 3:13-16
If Abraham wasn’t stopped and Isaac was killed there on the altar (and God didn’t resurrect him), then the promise would have been broken. Christ could not have come and died for my sins, and I would have never been reconciled back to God.
So the story of Abraham and Isaac is not just a good story – we’re all beneficiaries. I’m VERY thankful God provided that ram!