9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’
‘Here I am,’ he replied.
12 ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
I suspect that Abraham had no idea that he was acting out a role play of things to come. Go had been promising him a son, his wife laughed at the thought of the prospect since they were so old. God miraculously fulfils the promise and the after the son is born, God asks him to take his son and to go sacrifice him. In quiet obedience, Abraham does as God has said and places his son on the alter to sacrifice him, until God stopped him and provided a ram instead.
There are many lessons for us here. Obedience is one and in some cases, where God has clearly spoken to you, it will be better to obey God than to follow the norm or (sometimes) even common sense. When Rick Warren was being grilled by Piers Morgan, he said on national TV, “I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or that of society”. Another lesson is that of faith and trust in God, that he will provide for you come what may.
There are several lessons but the essence is to do with God’s purposes and plan. Isaac (Abraham’s son) is known as a “Type of Christ”. This title if given to people in the Old Testament who somehow acted out a role play of a part of the life of Jesus. Their story is one of a fore-runner, a shadow of what was to come. Remember, Jesus is God’s only Son who he gave to be sacrificed for our sins and who rose again on the third day.
As we prepare for Christmas let us be thankful that God gave Jesus, his only son and let us also recall with gratitude the words of Paul in Romans 8:32 which says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”