A Type of Christ: Isaac

Genesis 22:1-4
22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He 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. 3 So 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. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.”

From this first book of the Bible, we see the faith of Abraham on display—as well as Isaac’s---and how a true faith will be expressed through outward action. On a side note, this same land of Moriah is likely where Solomon built the temple on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:1; Isaiah 2:3).

For Abraham to bind his son and place him on the altar, knowing that God’s promise was through Isaac, exemplifies an obedience we can hardly fathom yet should seek to emulate in our own daily walk (For a further discussion of the link between “Here I Am” and obedience, please see my post “Here I Am, Lord”). For Isaac, as a young teenager he likely would have been stronger than Abraham at this point in his life and certainly could have overpowered his father and ran away to avoid this circumstance. Yet, Scripture tells us nothing other than he was obedient even until death. In this, we can see Isaac as a type of Christ.

Similar to Jesus, Isaac is described as Abraham’s only son and is willingly sacrificed by his Father, a son in whom he loved (Genesis 22:2; John 3:16). Note in v. 4 that Abraham arrived to the place of sacrifice on the third day. There is significance here as well as on this third day, Abraham received his son back, just as Jesus is resurrected on the third day.

There is some debate on what Abraham meant in his response to Isaac in v. 8 that God will provide for himself that lamb for the sacrifice. If we read that the lamb was Isaac (since the ram did not appear until later), this then begins another example of a type of Christ. With both being described as a lamb of sacrifice (John 1:29), neither Isaac nor Jesus was forced to be a sacrifice. As I stated above, if Isaac was strong enough to carry the wood, he would certainly have been strong enough to overpower Abraham and refuse his fate. Finally, in providing the ram, we see God providing a substitute for Isaac, prefiguring Christ being a substitute for us on Calvary (Galatians 3:13,16).

This story of obedience is a wonderful example of a pure faith in God and in it, we see Jesus. If you approach the Old Testament with such a focus, you will find many examples of types of Christ throughout its pages.

Finally, it is important to understand that yes, God will test our faith, but He will never tempt us for that goes against His character. Embrace those times when you feel you are being tested, see God not only in the challenge but in the solution as well. 

These are the times where we grow the most.