Wednesday, December 6: Isaac: But Where is the Lamb?

Genesis 22:1-2, 6-8, 13

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

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.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

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.

John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

God had promised Abraham many descendants, and after Abraham waited 25 years for the promised son, God then commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  What?!  But what about the promises?  Hebrews tells us that Abraham willingly offered up Isaac because he believed that God could raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).  Notice how God described Isaac: “your only son, whom you love.”  Yes, Abraham had another son (Ishmael), but Isaac was the son of promise, and the line through whom God’s great promises would be fulfilled.

Early in the morning Abraham and Isaac set off, and eventually Isaac noticed that something was missing, and he asked his father: “Where is the lamb?” James Boice suggested that was the question the saints down through the entire Old Testament asked.  Moses, David, Isaiah, Zechariah, and Malachi, knowing that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin (Hebrews 10:4), all probably asked: where is the lamb?  Where is the lamb that will take away our sins?

The focus of this story should not be on the man who passes the test, nor on his submissive son, but on the God who proves he is both able and willing to provide a complete and perfect sacrifice.  As Abraham told Isaac, God himself would provide a lamb for the offering.  And just as God provided the ram in place of Isaac, he would one day provide his only Son, whom he loves, as the sacrificial lamb for the sins of his people.  “For the truth of the matter is that Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac is pageant and prophecy of the actual sacrifice by God of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on Calvary” (James Boice).  “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)

None other Lamb, none other name,
none other hope in heav’n or earth or sea,
none other hiding place from guilt and shame,
none beside thee!

(Christina Rossetti)

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
Because Thy promise I believe
Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come.

(Charlotte Elliot)

© 2023 Stephen A. Hoogerhyde.