January 19, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
They Went Both of Them Together
Genesis 22 has, for many years, been a fruitful and fragrant field for all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaac the substitute is a fitting picture of our Savior. Scarcely a Lord’s Day Breaking of Bread passes without an allusion to the journey to the mountain in Moriah. It is touching to think of them – father and son, Abraham and Isaac, moving together to the place of sacrifice.
The comparison falls short, of course, and yet there are so many similarities; so many delightful reminders of divine persons moving toward that momentous day outside Jerusalem’s walls, that the story begs for retelling and fresh appreciation.
Isaac moved to an altar conscious of a father’s love. “Take now thy son, thine only, Isaac, whom thou lovest … ” (Gen 22:2). Is it not significant that among the very last words recorded which the Lord Jesus spoke before going out to Gethsemane were, “For Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). If, as the Rabbis and Josephus tell us, the hymn that was sung in the upper room was The Great Hallel, it would have ended with Psalm 118 and the words, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy (loving-kindness) endureth forever” (v 29). He moved to the cross conscious of a Father’s love, and expressing His love for His Father (John 14:31).
Isaac scaled the mountain in Moriah with full confidence in his father’s goodness. Willingly he bore the wood up the slope; submissively he allowed himself to be bound to the altar. Silently he watched as the knife was raised. No murmur; no question was interjected. Absolute confidence in his father was seen. In a similar manner, but in a greater measure, the Lord Jesus went to the cross with total faith in His Father’s promise of resurrection.
Calvary was many things: it was a Son Who came to offer a sacrifice to please God (Heb 10:6); it was an act of worship from His heart to God (Ps 22:1-3); it was a display of love infinite and intense (John 14:31). These aspects and many more are fruitful areas for worship. But the cross was also an act of faith. He is the ultimate example of faith to which the writer of Hebrew directs our attention. “Who for the joy … endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). Incarnation had brought the Lord Jesus into a new experience. Death was now something He could voluntarily endure, and He did. Entering into death, He had only the Word of God that resurrection would be His portion (Ps 16:9-11).
- We tend to think of Calvary from the standpoint of what we have received. What are some of the things which God received from the work of His Son?
- In Genesis 22 we have Isaac on the altar; he is not seen coming down from the mount and is hidden from view until he is united to Rebekah, his bride in Genesis 24.What does this suggest to you?