And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.…
If the Messiah be anywhere symbolised in the Old Testament, He is certainly to be seen upon Mount Moriah, where the beloved Isaac, willingly bound and laid upon the altar, is a lively foreshadowing of the Well-beloved of heaven yielding His life as a ransom
I. First, THE PARALLEL. YOU know the story before you; we need not repeat it, except as we weave it into our meditation. As Abraham offered up Isaac, and so it might be said of him that he " spared not his own son," so the ever blessed God offered up His Son Jesus Christ, and spared Him not.
1. There is a likeness in the person offered. Isaac was Abraham's son, and in that emphatic sense, his only son; hence the anguish of resigning him to sacrifice. Herein is love! Behold it and admire! Consider it and wonder! The beloved Son is made a sacrifice!
(1) Remember that in Abraham's case Isaac was the child of his heart. I need not enlarge on that, you can readily imagine how Abraham loved him; but in the case of our Lord what mind can conceive how near and dear our Redeemer was to the Father?
(2) Remember, too, that Isaac was a most lovely and obedient son. We have proof of that in the fact that he was willing to be sacrificed, for being a vigorous young man, he might have resisted his aged father, but he willingly surrendered himself to be bound, and submitted to be laid on the altar. How few there are of such sons! "Though He were a Son yet learned He obedience." It was His meat and His drink to do the will of Him that sent Him.
(3) It must not be forgotten, too, that around Isaac there clustered mysterious prophecies. Isaac was to be the promised seed through which Abraham should live down to posterity and evermore be a blessing to all nations. But what prophecies gathered about the head of Christ I What glorious things were spoken of Him before His coming! He was the conquering seed destined to break the dragon's head. He was the messenger of the covenant, yea, the covenant itself.
2. The parallel is very clear in the preface of the sacrifice. Let us show you in a few words. Abraham had three days in which to think upon and consider the death of his son; three days in which to look into that beloved face and to anticipate the hour in which it would wear the icy pallor of death. But the Eternal Father foreknew and foreordained the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, not three days nor three years, nor three thousand years, but or ever the earth was Jesus was to His Father "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Remember, that Abraham prepared with sacred forethought everything for the sacrifice. But what shall I say of the great God who, through the ages, was constantly preparing this world for the grandest event in its history, the death of the Incarnate God? All history converged to this point.
3. We will not tarry, however, on the preface of the sacrifice, but advance in lowly worship to behold the act itself.
(1) When Abraham came at last to Mount Moriah, he bade his servants remain at the foot of the hill. Now, gather up your thoughts, and come with me to Calvary, to the true Moriah. At the foot of that hill God bade all men stop. The twelve have been with Christ in his life-journey, but they must not be with Him in His death throes. Eleven go with him to Gethsemane; only three may draw near to Him in His passion; but when it comes to the climax of all, they forsake Him and flee; He fights the battle singly.
(2) Do you observe that Isaac carried the wood! — a true picture of Jesus carrying His cross.
(3) A point worthy of notice is, that it is said, "that they went both of them together." He who was to smite with the knife, and the other who was to be the victim, walked in peaceful converse to the altar. "They went both together," agreeing in heart. It is to me delightful to reflect that Christ Jesus and His Father went both together in the work of redeeming love. In that great work which we are saved, the Father gave us Christ, but Christ equally gave us Himself.
(4) They proceeded together, and at last, Isaac was bound, bound by his father. So Christ was bound, and He saith, "Ye could have no power against Me unless it was given to you of My Father."(5) The parallel goes still further, for while the father binds the victim, the victim is willing to be bound. Isaac might have resisted, but he did not; there are no traces of struggling; no signs of so much as a murmur.
(6) Yet the parallel runs a little further, after having been suspended for a moment — Isaac was restored again. He was bound and laid upon the altar, the knife was drawn, and he was in spirit given up to death, but he was delivered. Leaving that gap, wherein Christ is not typified fully by Isaac, but the ram, yet was Jesus also delivered. He came again, the living and triumphant Son, after He had been dead. Isaac was for three days looked upon by Abraham as dead; on the third day the father rejoiced to descend the mountain with his son. Jesus was dead, but on the third day He rose again.
(7) What followed the deliverance of Isaac? From that moment the covenant was ratified.
(8) Isaac, also, had that day been the means of showing to Abraham the great provision of God. That name, Jehovah-jireh, was new to the world; it was given forth to men that day from Mount Moriah; and in the death of Christ men see what they never could have seen else, and in His resurrection they beheld the deepest of mysteries solved. God has provided what men wanted.
II. I have to HINT AT SOME POINTS IN WHICH THE PARALLEL FALLS SHORT.
1. Isaac would have died in the course of nature. When offered up by his father, it was only a little in anticipation of the death which eventually must have occurred. But Jesus is He "who only hath immortality," and who never needed to die. His death was purely voluntary, and herein stands by itself, not to be numbered with the deaths of other men.
2. Moreover, there was a constraint upon Abraham to give Isaac. I admit the cheerfulness of the gift, but still the highest law to which His spiritual nature was subject, rendered it incumbent upon believing Abraham to do as God commanded. But no stress could be laid upon the Most High. If He delivered up His Son, it must be with the greatest freeness. Oh! unconstrained love — a fountain welling up from the depth of the Divine nature, unasked for and undeserved! What shall I say of this? O God, be Thou ever blessed! Even the songs of heaven cannot express the obligations of our guilty race to Thy free love in the gift of Thy Son!
3. Isaac did not die after all, but Jesus did.
4. Isaac, if he had died, could not have died for us.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.