God's test of Abraham foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus

Bible passage: Genesis 22:1-18
Prophet: Abraham
Written: This prophecy was given to Abraham more than 4,000 years ago and was recorded by Moses about 3,400 years ago

In Genesis 22, God tests Abraham in a most profound way by telling to him to sacrifice his son Isaac on a mountain in Moriah.

Abraham takes Isaac to the top of a mountain and prepares to sacrifice him. Isaac is tied up. Abraham raises the knife, getting ready to pierce his own son. Then, an angel appears, telling Abraham to stop. Abraham stops. Isaac is spared. The test ends. Abraham proves that he so loved God that he was willing to give up his own son.

This act of faith foreshadows an event 2,000 years later when God willingly sacrifices his only son, Jesus, for atonement of sin for all who believe. The details throughout Genesis 22 foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus, who is a descendant of Abraham, through Isaac.

Isaac himself was a miracle. Before Abraham had any children, God had promised him that he would have a child with his wife, Sarah. Abraham and Sarah already old in age, at that point, and it would have required a miracle for Sarah to have a child. And then, Abraham waited 25 years for the promise to be fulfilled. And now, in chapter 22, God, who had given Abraham the child, was now asking Abraham to sacrifice him.

As extreme as it might sound, asking Abraham to kill his own son, Abraham proved that his faith in God was also extreme. It was because of Abraham's faith that God had chosen Abraham to become the patriarch of faith. It would be the descendants of Abraham who would become the prophets and writers of the Bible, and the one through whom the Messiah himself would be born, and the one through whom the original Christian evangelists would be raised.

God spared Isaac and kept the promise found in Genesis 22:8, that God himself would provide the lamb for sacrifice. God fulfilled that promise about 2000 years ago, with his own son, Jesus:

He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32, WEB)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16, WEB)

Here is Genesis 22:1-18, from the World English Bible translation:

1 After these things, God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”

He said, “Here I am.”

2 He said, “Now take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go into the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”

3 Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey; and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place far off. 5 Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there. We will worship, and come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He took in his hand the fire and the knife. They both went together. 7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, “My father?”

He said, “Here I am, my son.”

He said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

8 Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they both went together. 9 They came to the place which God had told him of. Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son.

11 Yahweh’s angel called to him out of the sky, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

He said, “Here I am.”

12 He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham called the name of that place “Yahweh Will Provide”. As it is said to this day, “On Yahweh’s mountain, it will be provided.”

15 Yahweh’s angel called to Abraham a second time out of the sky, 16 and said, “‘I have sworn by myself,’ says Yahweh, ‘because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 that I will bless you greatly, and I will multiply your offspring greatly like the stars of the heavens, and like the sand which is on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gate of his enemies. 18 All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because you have obeyed my voice.’” (Genesis 22:1-18, WEB)