There have been times in most of our lives when we have felt abandoned by GOD, as if perhaps GOD had for some reason turned away from us. Yet through it all, we see HIS wisdom in working out HIS own purposes. Though our eyes may have been clouded with the emotions of the moment, when the smoke of the battle cleared, HE was always there. It's just that most times HE works quietly behind the scenes and at other times HE chooses to be seen and heard.
As GOD works out HIS purposes the manner in which HE works may change. Just because GOD dealt with man a certain way in the past, that is no guarantee HE will not deal differently in the future. The way GOD works is the way GOD needs to work, not the way man expects HIM to work. GOD does not exist within the confines of some box that we have imagined for HIM. Just because I may believe GOD to be a certain way, doesn't limit HIM or restrain HIM to the way I think. The truth is all the other way. I am the one in the box. All I know of GOD and HIS abilities is what I can conceive within the limits of that box. It's only when GOD opens the lid that my understanding goes beyond into HIS realm.
GOD dealt with mankind during the times of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) a certain way because HE had certain purposes to accomplish. Then, after Yeshua's (Jesus') ministry began, HIS dealings with man differed because HIS purposes were developing to a different level. Then after Christ's ascension into heaven, when the twelve apostles were "endued with power from on high" and sent to be witnesses unto "the uttermost part of the earth" GOD's purposes once again changed. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, lets first go back and see GOD fulfill HIS purposes in olden times.
By the time we arrive at GENESIS 12, we are already midway between GOD's promise of the Redeemer to Eve in GENESIS 3:15, and His actual birth to Mary in the Gospel of Matthew. Two thousand years have already seen GOD working out all to HIS own purpose. Man has populated the earth, been washed away by the flood and has now repopulated it. From the tree of knowledge of good and evil to the tower of Babel man has too often sought himself, but on rare occasions, some men and women stepped away from the crowd and answered the call of their Creator. One such man was Abram.
GENESIS 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram...
There is no scriptural documentation that there was any reason whatsoever for GOD Almighty to have spoken unto Abram, except that HE was working out HIS own purposes. The evidence is all the other way. There was every visible reason HE should not have spoken unto Abram. Abram's family "served other gods" (JOSHUA 24:2); yet the LORD had not only spoken unto Abram, but had promised to make of him a great nation; and further, that "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (GENESIS 12:3). That's quite a promise considering he was old and his wife barren. They had no children with which to make a great nation. And not only was he and Sarah "well stricken in age", but "it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women". Scripture's response to all this was,
"Is Anything too hard for the LORD?"
HE takes a most unlikely if not impossible situation and from it makes HIS promises. Why? To show HIS exceeding great power! GOD is teaching that HE just doesn't leave HIS purposes only to the ability of man. When Abram wandered into Egypt where Pharaoh took his wife Sarah, the "LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house" (GENESIS 12:10, 17). Later, Abram took unto him Hagar who bare him Ishmael, but GOD said, "Sarah thy wife shall bare thee a son...and I will establish My covenant with him" (GENESIS 16:15; 17:19). When Abraham sojourned in Gerar and allowed Abimelech to take Sarah, "GOD came to Abimelech and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man" (GENESIS 20:1-3). GOD was going to "establish HIS covenant with the son Sarah would bare to Abraham". That was that! No matter how circumstances seemed to stand against it, GOD's purpose would be accomplished.
Nothing could thwart GOD's purpose. Not the famine that drove Abram into Egypt, not the strife between Abram's herdsmen and his nephew's, not the five kings that captured his nephew Lot, not Abram's fear of going childless, not his impregnating the servant girl, nor his fear of being killed for his wife. GOD's purpose that Abraham and Sarah would have a son was going to be accomplished, no matter what!
And so we find recorded in GENESIS 21.
GENESIS 21:1-2 And the LORD visited Sarah as HE had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as HE had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
It was the set time, the right time, the perfect time; yea it was GOD's time! Isaac was not born a decade before, a year before, or even a month before, but rather "at the set time of which GOD had spoken".
GENESIS 21:6-7 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.
"Who would have said?" None, but GOD did!
Is anything too hard for the LORD?
Once again HE proves there isn't. Isaac was born; the child called laughter. What a joy he must have been to his parents, Abraham and Sarah, especially considering the long time they awaited his birth. Finally he came, no longer a promise but now a reality.
Now all of GOD's other promises would surely come to pass unto Abraham and Sarah. Now a great nation would be made of Isaac, and in him all the families of the earth would be blessed. How these promises must have echoed in their minds as Isaac grew. He was a good son. Not only was he good and obedient to his father but he was a very important son for GOD himself had said;
GENESIS 21:12 ...for in Isaac shall thy seed [the Redeemer] be called.
This is not only a tremendous honor for Abraham and Isaac, but to know that through Isaac's offspring the Messiah would be born is to know that GOD's protection and blessing is certainly to be upon them. This is why the story of Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice to GOD is so perplexing to many. Why would GOD want Isaac slain if it was through Isaac that GOD's own Son was to come. And why would Abraham be so willing to slay his own son, knowing GOD had promised him a lineage to Christ?
From GOD through Adam a thread runs. That thread continues down through the times of the Hebrew Bible all the way down to Mary the mother of the promised Redeemer and finally to her Son Yeshua (Jesus). Through a multitude of generations this thread passes linking them all in a direct line to GOD. Here, GOD is telling Abraham that it is through Isaac that this thread will pass.
The story of Abraham and Isaac is one of the most remarkable records of Yeshua as the antitype that there is in Holy Scripture. Only in understanding GOD's purpose of the ages, can one begin to understand Abraham's offering of his only beloved son Isaac upon the altar.
Was not Yeshua as important a Son to GOD as Isaac was to Abraham? And who in all history was a better or more obedient son than was Yeshua to His Father? How long did GOD wait for HIS Son to be born? 4,000 years? Nay, since before the foundation of the world! GOD loved HIS Son and yet HE gave HIS Son to die for the world, very similarly to the way that Abraham is about to be asked to offer his son.
GENESIS 22:1-12 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. And 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.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
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? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
What an amazing record! "Seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me". This word withheld is the same word in the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew Bible as is translated spared not in ROMANS 8:32.
Romans 8:32 He that spared not His own Son [Yeshua], but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Just as Abraham was about to deliver up his only son, so did GOD deliver up HIS only Son.
What perfect timing for GOD to allow all this to happen and then stop Abraham just short of slaying his son! Yet some think that Abraham was cruel by treating his son this way. Still others can't accept that GOD would have Abraham do such a thing; they themselves are cruel to the Scripture by denying the truth of this record. The key to understanding this record is in understanding the anti-type, the counterparts in the Hebrew Bible, with Yeshua in the Gospels. Thus Isaac represented Christ.
Abraham was willing to slay his "only son whom he loved", because he literally believed GOD would raise Isaac from the dead. Did Abraham not say in verse 5 that, "I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you?" This is precisely what we find substantiated in HEBREWS:
HEBREWS 11:17-19 NIV By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Oh to have faith as his. Over the years Abraham had learned to trust GOD to such a tremendous degree that whatsoever GOD promised, Abraham believed. Abraham knew a GOD whose will is always good and acceptable and perfect. If we think GOD is asking too much, when HE asks us to put aside our own pursuits and pursue HIS, we evidently believe not that HIS will is good and perfect and acceptable.
And so we have our antitype complete, as Christ also was received "back from death". That is the only way GOD could have allowed HIS only begotten Son to be "laid upon the wood" of the cross and offered for the sins of the world. "Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Isaac asked. "GOD will provide HIMSELF a lamb", his father answered. Yeshua was that Lamb, the antitype of Isaac. This is that Lamb Abel looked for when he offered the "firstlings of his flock", this is the Lamb Abraham believed GOD would provide and this is the Lamb John the Baptist announced as recorded in John's Gospel.
JOHN 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
But this set time had not yet arrived. Only half the sand had slipped through the hourglass, with the record of Abraham. GOD still had much of HIS purpose to work out before that time, when the Lamb of GOD would be offered for the sins of the world.