In Genesis chapter 22, we read how God tested Abrahamís faith. God wanted Abraham to give his son, Isaac, completely to God. So God told Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
Sacrifices were usually animals that people gave to God. They killed an animal, then, for a special sacrifice, they burned the whole body of the animal. That was the type of sacrifice that God asked Abraham to offer.
It was a hard test. God had made promises to Abraham, and those promises could only happen by means of Isaac. The author of Hebrews reminds his readers of that fact when he refers to Genesis 21:12. Abraham had another son, Ishmael, at this time. But Isaac was very important in Godís plan for Abrahamís family. In fact, Isaac was so important in that plan that the author calls Isaac: Abrahamís Ďonly soní.
But that plan could only happen by the power of Godís Holy Spirit, not by human effort (Galatians 3:3; Galatians 4:23). And that is why Abraham had to receive Godís promise by faith (active belief and trust in God). In other words, Abraham had to trust God completely. If Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice, then only God could carry out his promise to Abraham. And Abrahamís best efforts would achieve nothing.
But God did not allow Abraham to kill Isaac. Instead, God provided a sheep for their sacrifice. God only wanted to see that Abraham was willing to offer Isaac. God certainly did not want Abraham to kill Isaac.
In fact, God only ever wanted one person to die as a sacrifice. That person was, of course, Jesus Christ, Godís Son. John 3:16 calls him ĎGodís only Soní. All the other sacrifices were copies that God provided to teach us about Jesusí death. But Jesusí death was the reality because, by it, God can give us a right relationship with himself.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.