Jesse Tree: Day 6 Isaac (Gen.22:1-19)
We saw yesterday how Abraham’s faith and hope centred on his own Son, the Son of the Promise. But the promise of the Lord to Abraham didn’t just centre on what was to happen, but also how. The Promised Son would come through, even as He would be pre-figured by, another promised son, Isaac.
This is the issue at stake in Genesis 22, a passage that haunts many contemporary readers. The chapter opens ominously: ‘God tested Abraham’. Not in the sense of God being ignorant of Abraham’s heart, or even wondering just how far He could push him; but in the sense of exposing the depth of that faith, and the knowledge Abraham had of the Lord and His ways. Why would God do this? So that the rest of the Church throughout the generations would learn what Abraham understood so profoundly - that redemption can only come at a terrifying cost. The Church could only be reclaimed from exile through the death and resurrection of the Son of the Promise.
Abraham had built many altars over his life, beginning at Shechem (Gen.12:7). But never one like this: ‘Take … your only son, whom you love - Isaac - and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…’ (22:2). When we were exiled from Eden, a flaming sword guarded the way to the tree of life. The only way back to Eden is through the fire. But none could make such a journey without being consumed. Almost none. Throughout the long history of the age, only once had Someone stood in the fire that marked the boundary of heaven and survived. Once, the Angel of Lord appeared in the flames of that fire, and not even the bush He appeared in was consumed (Ex.3:2). He would take our ‘flesh and blood’ and then plunge Himself back into that fire in order to open a way through it (Heb.2:14-17). And so Abraham and Isaac - a young man possibly in his 30’s - set off to display for the Church the devastating cost of being the Father, and the Son. Abraham knew that if he slayed his beloved son, Isaac would be raised again. After all, that is what happens to the Son who is slain (Gen.22:5, note the emphatic use of ‘we’, also Heb.11:17-19). In the event, the Father provided a substitute on Moriah (22:12-14).
Centuries passed and the land passed through empires. As is the way, names changed and old significances were forgotten. Moriah became the site of Jebus, later Jerusalem (II Chron.3:1). Which means that all those centuries later, when another Promised and Beloved Son carried the wood for a sacrifice, it was up the same hill. Only this time there was no Angel who would stop the Father slaying His Son, His only Son whom He loved. Here on the mountain of the Lord, now known as Golgotha, the Lord provided (Gen.22:14).
There in the thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns … to this day it is said, ‘On the Mountain of the Lord, it will be provided’… (Gen.22:8 & 14)
Ideas for Family Devotions:
Jesus Storybook Bible, ‘Son of Laughter’. Can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km7GhbEFW5k
Put a white carnation (with a freshly cut and split stem) into a vase with water and plenty of red food dye. It’ll take a few days, but the carnation should turn red… II Cor.5:21 ‘God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us…’ (or perhaps: I Peter 2:24, ‘He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross’)
As a family list 10 ways in which God has provided for you… and spend some time praying and saying Thank-you.