Friday, March 11, 2011

The Way of the Cross (3)

We're not told how Abraham is feeling as he walks along the mountain path. We don't need to be told. By his side is young Isaac, the son long promised by God, twenty-five years in the waiting since God had spoken to him about it. Could God have really said it?

Yet he did not doubt the voice. He had heard it before, and tried to take things into his own hands. That had been a disaster. This time, he knew that when the voice of God came, he had to act. No matter how baffling it seemed. The call to sacrifice his son, his only son Isaac, his beloved. He gathered all he needed, and obeyed the command.

Isaac wasn't stupid - he knew what was needed for a sacrifice, but there seemed to be something missing. Something important missing. Where is the lamb for a burnt offering? "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son."

Isaac is bound to the altar, the knife hovers ominously overhead, and just then Abraham is called again by the voice - tested, and proven. Abraham fears God and will not withhold even his promised son from him. As Hebrews comments, 'He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.' (Heb 11:19)

Isaac lives, and the ram caught in the thicket is offered up as the divinely provided substitute. On the Mount of the Lord, the LORD will provide.

Fast forward a few thousand years, and focus in on the same mountain, at Mount Moriah, the hill outside the city wall, where again the LORD provides on that holy mountain. Again there's a substitute, not a ram, but the Lamb of God; the beloved Son, God's only Son who dies in our place.

God spared Abraham's son by providing the substitute; God's Son was the substitute, and the seed of Abraham, through whom all nations of the earth will be blessed.

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