This devotional is from our “God is Love” series from the sermon “The Father’s Love – The Akedah (Binding of Isaac)” See also: Genesis 21:9-12; Genesis 22:1-19; 1 John 4; Heb 11:1-19; Ps 102:20-21; Mat 3:9; Luke 16:23-31; Luke 20:37-38; John 8:48-58; Acts 3:25; Acts 7:8; Galatians 4
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
The writer of Hebrews refers to a “parable” (translated in many modern translations by the words “figuratively speaking”) that Isaac would be raised from the dead. Some have wondered about this in modern times because we may be unfamiliar with the Hebrew word for parable – “midrash”. There are a set of writings which are the teachings of ancient rabbis, called the Midrash, and they do indeed have interpretations of the events in Genesis 22 that Isaac would (or in some rabbis’ interpretations in fact did) experience actual death and resurrection in the Akedah (The “Binding of Isaac”). This is the first time that the word “love” appears in scripture. Abraham was promised that he would be the father of many nations through Isaac, whom he loved; so why sacrifice him?! Commentators often point out that in Abraham’s time there was a culture of child sacrifice to an idol named Molech; however, in this amazing (and to modern readers, often horrific) story of Isaac what we may miss is that God is totally doing away with child sacrifice in the new culture being established through Abraham. God is creating a new culture, one of justice, mercy, and protection for the weak. Yet God was also doing something else, he was creating a prophetic type that firmly established a principle in Jewish (and therefore in Christian) teachings: that God will keep his promises through the resurrection of the Promised One. Jewish rabbis were teaching that God is so serious about keeping his promise through Abraham that the “one who is bound*” would be freed from death. This became the benchmark for what became a “substitutionary” sacrifice, the lamb of God in place of the sinner; but only a man can pay for the crimes of a man, so these were temporary, repetitive. Scripture says that Christ came, as the Son of Promise, at precisely the right time to die in our place so that God could give you and me an inheritance, adopted in to take his place as heirs while he took our place in judgement. That is how deep the Father’s love is for us.
- What do you think about the parallels between the story of Isaac and the death of Jesus? Do you agree with the early Christian doctrine about Isaac as a prophetic type pointing forward to Jesus?
- Why do you think this is the first time God inspired “love” and “worship” to be used in scripture?
Things to Pray about:
- Pray for a deeper passion in understanding the promises of God and his love for us.
* Psalm 102:20-21,translated as a plural “prisoners” for modern readers not familiar with Jewish teaching, but is singular in the original text.