Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Substitute Lamb Foreshadowed - Mid Week 2 - March 12, 2014 - Text: Gen. 22:1-14
Our text is Genesis 22:1-14: 1After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. 9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 12He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” This is our text.
Our theme for this year focuses our attention on the main character of the Passion, even the main character throughout the history of Israel and the Christian Church, the Lamb. Last week we began by talking about the promise of a Savior and the first sacrifice made to clothe Adam and Eve. This week we move forward past the birth of the son promised to Abraham, Isaac and to God’s testing of Abraham. Through this testing of Abraham to sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac we will see a foreshadowing of God the Father and His giving of His only Son.
Before we get to Abraham, let us review the first promise. As you recall, at the creation of the world and all things out of nothing, God created the perfect man and the perfect woman and placed them in the perfect garden. God even gave them the ability to respond by obeying His command to not eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God even set the price for the sin of eating the fruit. The price for sin was set at death, physical death and apart from Him, faith in Jesus eternal spiritual death, or hell.
Adam and Eve did sin. Satan came to them in the form of a serpent, questioning God’s Words and promises so much that Eve and Adam also questioned God and disobeyed by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Upon eating the fruit not only did they know good, but now they knew evil as well and they knew that they were naked and so they were ashamed. They were indeed naked before God because God knows all things and God knew what they had done, so that no amount of clothing, no amount of fig leaves would be able to hide their nakedness and sin from God. God knew that Adam and Eve sinned and that their sin would cost them their lives, their physical lives in a few short years and their eternal lives if their sin was left unpaid. So God, in His great and unfathomable love stepped in and promised Adam and Eve to send a Savior, a Redeemer, One who would come and pay the price for their sin and trade His life for theirs and for all people.
The price for sin was set at death. Blood had to be shed. The Savior, the Redeemer would take care of the price for sin by shedding His own blood. In order for the Redeemer to be a Redeemer to trade His life for theirs, the Redeemer would have to be one of them, a human being, thus the Redeemer would be truly God, born of a human woman making Him truly human and truly divine.
After many years, indeed, after the flood and the tower of Babel, after God cleansed the world, or attempted to cleanse the world with a flood and after the nations and cultures of the world were separated through the mixing of the languages, after many years God moved to begin to fulfill His promise to send a Savior, a Redeemer.
Of all the people on the earth, God, in His grace, mercy and wisdom, chose a man, Abram. Abram was not a perfect man, nor was he completely righteous in God’s eyes. As a matter of fact we are told that he also worshiped other gods or idols (Joshua 24:2). God chose Abram and promised him that the Savior of the world, of all people, of all nations and cultures would be born through His Seed, his descendants. God promised Abram a son and even though God took some ten years to fulfill his promise, He did give Abram, whose name He changed to Abraham, a son, Isaac. When Isaac was ten to sixteen years old God tested Abraham. God called to Abraham and told him to take his son, his only son, Isaac and to go and sacrifice him on the mountain the Lord would show him.
Abraham obeyed God, not knowing until later that this was a test, but simply obeying God’s command. Abraham gathered the wood he would need for the sacrifice, saddled his donkey, took his servants and his son and went to the place the Lord would direct him. His son, Isaac went willingly though probably naively.
At one point Abraham left his servants with the animals, placed the wood for the sacrifice on his son Isaac and went off to sacrifice his son. Although he was unaware of his father’s intentions, Isaac willingly carried the wood for his sacrifice, thus foreshadowing how our Savior, Jesus would carry the wood of His own cross to be crucified on the very wood He carried.
As for Abraham, he believed God’s promise that the Savior would be born through his descendants. He had no reason to doubt God’s word and even though he did not know nor understand why God would ask him to sacrifice his son, he believed that God would still fulfill His promise, perhaps through giving him another son, or raising Isaac to life after the sacrifice. Abraham did not know, but acted in faith, as God gave him faith and as God moved him in faith.
Abraham believed God. He told his servants that he and the boy would go and make sacrifices, even though they had no animal only wood and that they, both of them, would return. Abraham did not know how God would do it, whether He would provide a substitute, as he explained to Isaac along the way, that God would provide, but he believed God’s promises and so he acted in faith.
Abraham obeyed God and God provided for Abraham. God provided a ram for the sacrifice. God provide Abraham and Isaac with the faith necessary to obey God’s command. And God continues to provide for us even today.
God is the prime mover. God created all things out of nothing. God created a perfect world and when His perfection was tarnished He promised to provide for its recreation. God promised a Redeemer. And it is not that God forgot, but as God remembered His promise, so He chose Abraham and promised that the Redeemer would be born through His line of ancestry. God foreshadowed the fulfillment of His promise as He tested the faith of Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son, his only son, as God would sacrifice His Son, His only Son. But not only did God call Abraham, promise Abraham and then test Abraham, He also strengthened Abraham to obey Him.
God commanded Abraham, gave him faith and strength to obey and at just the right time He provided a substitute. So in our world, at just the right time God the Father sent His Son, His only Son to be born of a woman, to be born under the Law, to fulfill all the Law and the prophets, perfectly for us in our place. The price for sin was set at death, blood had to be shed. Abraham was asked to shed the blood of his only son, and yet God provided a substitute. And yet, the almost sacrifice of Isaac, the sacrifice of that substitute ram and all the sacrifices of the Old Testament truly meant nothing as far as paying any price for sin. All the sacrifices of the Old Testament merely served the purpose of pointing to the one ultimate final sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
God’s substitute for us is Jesus. Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus was not given a substitute, but freely took our sins and freely gave His life for ours. Jesus shed His blood. Jesus died to pay the price for our sin. Jesus was sacrifice for us because of His great love for us.
Of course, we will not leave here without being reminded of the rest of the story that is that Jesus did not stay dead, but rose victorious over sin, death and the power of the devil. Jesus ascended to the place from where He descended where He is today continually watching over us, ruling over us, and interceding for us. And He sends His Holy Spirit to give us the gifts He has earned for us and He gives us those gifts as we make regular and diligent use of the means of grace, being in Bible class and divine service. And we rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.