The story of Abraham & Isaac is a mere shadow of the unimaginable cost that God paid at Calvary. There the Father gave His Son in the greatest sacrifice in history, as God Himself took our place on the cross.
In this post, Randy Bushey is a regular contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Here he explains how the Christian should focus on defense. You can listen to Randy’s program entitled “The Faith Factor,” on HopeStreamRadio.
Some time later God tested Abraham…Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you” (Genesis 22:1,2).
Abraham & Isaac
I don’t think any of us can completely imagine the overwhelming trauma pounding in Abraham’s mind throughout that sleepless night. How could God expect this? Would this not certainly thwart His covenantal promises? What does the sacrifice of a child portray about the God who demanded it? How could this command possibly be consistent with the character of the God Abraham had come to know and obey? And yet in the seventh and final recorded appearance of God to this man, the edict was utterly – yet horribly – clear.
Surprisingly, the narrative relates that Abraham obeyed promptly: Early the next morning Abraham got up…(Genesis 22:3), and travelled with Isaac to the region of Moriah – quite likely to the mountain where 1000 years later, Solomon would build the temple. Why did Abraham get to this abhorrent, heart-wrenching task with such urgency? Was his early rising a result of his unquestioning obedience? Or because sleep had been a futile pursuit as he pondered how this mission could possibly end in anything but loss and unbearable pain for Abraham and his long-suffering wife, Sarah.
Now fast-forward 2 millennia to the same location in the region of Moriah, to a hill on Mount Zion – outside the northern wall of Jerusalem – called Calvary. Another Son. Another Father. But without dramatic intervention. And as He hung on the cross enduring the unmitigated just wrath of Almighty God, the lights go out. At high noon in a middle-eastern day, the sky goes completely black. Without warning, the sun fails to shine. Three hours of quiet. The loneliness is palpable. Creation grieves as its Creator is killed by the most excruciating method invented. Maybe the darkness is providing a dignity covering. But the Perfect One has become a curse for us. And the Father cannot look on sin.
At that moment the Lord Jesus represents the greatest, most vile concentration of sin that had ever existed – the sin of the world: past, present, future.
God made Him who had no sin to BE sin…(2 Corinthians 5:21).
And the consequence is mid-day darkness. As the Stuart Townend modern hymn declares:
How great the pain of searing loss,
the Father turns His face away.*
This Son is not spared. There is no substitute. No angelic intrusion. And yet the throbbing agony of the Son – having their eternal fellowship broken – is unhesitatingly shared by the Father. The cost to each is beyond comprehension; profoundly deep and immeasurable.
A Mere Shadow
Abraham’s potential loss of his only son – the son of promise – is a mere shadow of the crippling loss within the Godhead as Christ bore both our sin and God’s holy anger.
Surprisingly, the experience results in no animosity toward man or God. The Perfect Son’s holy, unconditionally loving character is untainted by the experience. In his seventh and final utterance, Jesus gasped,
Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.
Takeaway: in our tradition, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper weekly to keep the cross of Christ central to our thinking, our worship, and our theology. John Calvin saw value in the regular observance with the bread and wine, to “frequently call to mind the sufferings of Christ”. May we never forget. May it never become commonly routine. May it never lose its call to the people of God to gather in united worship.
*How Great the Father’s Love to Us, by Stuart Townend
You can listen to pod casts from Randy’s show, “The Faith Factor,” by clicking here.
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Images Courtesy of:
Abraham & Isaac – Caravaggio
Christ On the Cross – Carl Heinrich Bloch