Introduction: As the only son of Abraham and the one who saw his father raise the very knife to slay him, Isaac on the altar in Genesis 22 prefigures God’s Only Son being delivered up by His Father on the Altar of the Cross. Romans 8:32, our focus for this week, points out this parallel between Isaac and Jesus by using language meant to remind us of Abraham’s altar on Mount Moriah. The sacrificial geography of the Bible, as we shall see, begins at Moriah and ends at Calvary.
Monday: read Genesis 22:10-18 & Romans 8:31-33. In these verses from Romans the Apostle Paul encourages his readers to hope in God’s abundant generosity by using an argument from greater to lesser: ‘If God did the great thing of not sparing His Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Jesus, graciously give us all things?’
To put it another way: If God promised Abraham limitless blessings for merely putting Isaac on the altar without actually killing him, how much more eternal blessing will flow from the actual sacrifice of the perfect Son of God offered in our place? Could the Father give any greater proof of His determination to bless us? Nothing could be a more costly display of His love for us than the ‘blood of the Son of God,’ not spared, but shed (Acts 20:28)!
Meditate and Pray: Thank God the Father for His determination to give us His most precious Son – when we ourselves would not give up our sons for anything or anyone! Ask God to move you to trust such a Loving, Divine Fatherly Heart without reservation.
Tuesday: read Romans 8:31-33 and Hebrews 9:22. Romans 8:32 describes God the Father’s role in the death of His Son as just as brave and decisive as the grip of Abraham on the knife which he raised to slay his son: ‘He delivered Him up.’ This is the legal language of handing someone over to condemnation and death. Why would God the Father, with such grim determination, do this? Why, indeed, would Abraham himself recognize God’s right to demand the life of his only son Isaac and with the grim determination of faith bind him to the altar? The foundational answer is that both God and Abraham knew that sin demands blood sacrifice. Isaac like all of us fell under the judgment: ‘The soul that sins will die.’ Since the days of Abel (Gen. 4:4), all Divine blessing of those like us worthy of death depends on blood to cover the guilt of the sinner. As Hebrews 9:22 puts it: ‘Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.’
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that our value as the church of Christ lies in our being a blood-bought people. Let us join the Heavenly Church in praising Jesus for staying on the altar and there shedding His own blood for our sins: And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)
Wednesday: read Romans 8:31-33 and Zechariah 13:1-7. Bible writers never tire of magnifying God’s loving sacrifice of His Son. Just as Paul says ‘all things’ flow to us because God did not spare His Son, so Old Testament prophets also speak of abundant blessings which flow to us because One was pierced and shed His blood in our place. For example, see the fountain of cleansing which Christ’s blood supplies in Zechariah 13:1-2: ‘On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.’ Where would that cleansing fountain come from? From the blood shed when the Father would ‘lift His sword’ against the Good Shepherd, Jesus (Zechariah 13:7) – just as Abraham lifted his knife against Isaac, but this time unto the very death of the Only Son of God.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God the Father that He was willing to raise the sword to strike His Son, and that Jesus was willing to absorb that sword of justice lifted against our sin. Celebrate this great sacrificial act in one of the many hymns that celebrates this in our Red Trinity Hymnal:
‘Ah, Lord, our sins arraigned thee, and nailed thee to the tree: our pride, our Lord, disdained thee; yet deign our hope to be,’ (255);
‘O break, O break, hard heart of mine! Thy weak self-love and guilty pride his Pilate and his Judas were,’ (262);
‘Who was the guilty who brought this upon thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee. ‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.’ (248)
Thursday: read Romans 8:31-33 and 1 Chronicles 21:14-19. Geography matters in the Bible – especially sacrificial geography. Altars dot the journeys of God’s people, and bring centralized focus to their otherwise wandering lives. The greatest altar site in the Old Testament was the threshing floor which David purchased from Araunah the Jebusite as the place where God’s plague against David’s sinful census stopped. God in grace relented, and David in thankfulness memorialized God’s forgiveness by purchasing the place where he was spared the consequences of sin. As we shall see in tomorrow’s reading, this same place became the site of the Temple and was later called Mount Zion: the place of safety and deliverance through the blood of forgiveness offered at the Temple. For us, the Cross of Jesus Christ is our place of safety where God relents from sending upon us the judgment we deserve.
Meditate and Pray: Ask God to enable you to boast in the Cross of Christ, and magnify what Jesus did there: ‘I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place: I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face; content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss; my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.’ (Hymn # 251)
Friday: read Genesis 22:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 3:1-2. All along God really planned that it would be through the sacrifice of His One and Only Son that forgiveness and cleansing would come to us. In one sense, there is only One Place of sacrifice in the Bible. David recognized it as the threshing floor which he purchased from Araunah the Jebusite. Solomon recognized that same place as the site to build the Temple – the place originally called ‘Mount Moriah.’ Most amazing of all, it was that very same ‘Mt. Moriah’ which Abraham climbed with Isaac in order to sacrifice him to God! Later, this Mount on which the Temple was built was taken as a direct geographical pointer to the site of Messiah’s reign. Jesus Himself beginning on Palm Sunday approached that ‘Temple Mount Moriah’ preparing to die in our place. (Zechariah 9:9)
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for His perfect plan of redemption by the blood of His Son. On that very place where Abraham, David and Solomon worshipped at their altars, one day the True Lamb was to be offered: not on an earthly Mt. Zion, but up in heaven. Thank Jesus for climbing, with His Father, the tallest of mountains all the way to the Temple in heaven: just as Isaac and His Father did of old. Thank God the Father for His love for you, which made Him respond to His Son’s question in a far different way than Abraham responded to Isaac in Genesis 22:7-8:
‘“Father?” “Yes, my son?” God replied. “The fire and the wood are here,” the Son said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” “You: the Son of God Himself, will be the Lamb for the burnt offering, my Son,” …. And the two of them went on together.’