Anglican Morning Devotion for 8 February 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion worldwide
“And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”
(Genesis 22:7-8; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“ Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” (John 19:16-18)
The two above texts– one from Genesis, the other from the Gospel of St. John – are profoundly precious to the believer. I was persuaded to write on the subject today by a comment made by a dear sister concerning the Way of the Cross yesterday in a letter. That Way was conceived in the Eternity Past by the Councils of Heaven before the worlds were made. The bloody sacrifices of animals, per se, were not efficacious to redeem or atone for sin; but these sacrifices pointed to the only future sacrifice that could atone – the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ! It was by faith in that future promise that Abraham believed that our sins were mitigated in the dark days before Christ. “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) We find confirmation in the Book of Hebrews: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11-14)
How does the story of Isaac fore-picture the sacrifice of Christ? In many ways it does. Isaac came by miraculous conception when Sara was upward of ninety years of age. Like Jesus, his birth was promised by God. Like Jesus, he was the only begotten son of his father. You may object that Ishmael was the first born son disqualifying Isaac as the one and only. Ishmael came at the scheming of Sarah and not by the intention of God. God had made the Promise to BOTH Sarah and Abraham; therefore, a surrogate mother could not have conceived that promised son. Isaac was the only son, well-beloved, by both Sarah and Abraham. When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, how do you suppose that made Abraham feel? “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:1-2)
It should be noted at the outset that Moriah is precisely the same Mount upon which the Temple is built, and very likely the precise location of the intended sacrifice of Isaac. Do you remember the piercing question of Isaac at the base of Moriah? “…where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7) In Abraham’s mind, that lamb was Isaac; but in God’s Providence, it would not be so. Unwittingly, Abraham responded, “…My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:8) In simple English, this means: God will provide Himself to be the sacrifice which He became in the fulness of time at Calvary.
Like Christ, Isaac bore the wood for his own sacrifice up the Mount. But God withheld the hand of Abraham from the sacrifice. Just as Christ wore the crown of thorns, so did the male lamb (ram) whose head was caught in the thorn bush as a substitute for the final sacrifice of Christ.
Even though the sacrifice was not required of Isaac, he nonetheless carried the wood for that sacrifice just as we take up our crosses daily to follow Christ in sacrificial love. “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
No longer are the Commandments of God written on Tables of Stone, but in the crimson ink of blood on the soft sinews of the heart. It is that means by which we bear our crosses, or rather bear them up on the Almighty shoulders of the Son of God – Savior, Redeemer, Lord and King! “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” (Hebrews 8:10)