4,000 Year Old Picture of Jesus' Crucifixion
THEME / LESSON: We must have faith to believe that God has provided for us a substitutional sacrifice, and we must understand and recognize prophetic types and patterns in the Old Testament.
Do you remember the time, after Jesus had risen from the dead, when He said to His disciples “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25-26). And then He gave them the Bible study of a lifetime beginning at Moses continuing on through all the prophets, expounding unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.
From Genesis to Malachi. Have you ever wondered what scriptures Jesus covered?
Well, I have no doubt that this chapter, Genesis 22:1-14, was one of those sets of passages Jesus read and applied to Himself. In fact, it’s probably one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible because it not only foretells that God would provide His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON as a sacrifice, but it even foretold the exact location where Jesus would be crucified. All this about 2000 years before the fact. There is no clearer picture of the Gospel found anywhere else in the Bible.
After reading the verses in this chapter there can really be no excuse for rejecting Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Savior of the world.
We’re going to see many parallels between the enactment of the sacrifice of Isaac and the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Below is a list of a number of them that we’ll encounter in our reading:
The number of parallels here are astounding! There are many more as you will see.
Genesis 22:1 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.
God did tempt (נָסָה) Abraham- What? God tempted Abraham? But I didn’t think God tempted man. James 1:13 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” That’s correct. Satan is the “tempter” (Gen. 3), not God. Far be it for God to tempt people with ‘lustful’ things. But that’s not what we are talking about here. A better translation of the Hebrew word נָסָה nâçâh (Strongs 5254) is “to test, try, or prove”. God was testing Abraham’s obedience and seeing what was in his heart, not tempting him. Far different meaning. That’s why at times it is absolutely necessary to look up the Hebrew or Greek words the languages that the Bible was written in.
Like Abraham, God tests His people. He tested Israel in the wilderness (Exod. 20), He tested Job, He tested David, and He tests us today. In the future He will test His people with the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:13-31).
Genesis 22:2 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.
Only Begotten Son- Who else had an only begotten son? John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Are you beginning to see a parallel here? Yes, it is true that Abraham did have another son at this time, Ishmael, but Ishmael was not the chosen seed, Isaac was (Gen. 21:12). In a sense, Ishmael was a non-legitimate son. He was the product of Abraham and Sarah’s impatient effort to obtain the promised seed through their own means, and in their own time, rather than waiting for the promises of God. And because he later mocked Isaac, Ishmael was cast out along with his mother, Sarah’s bondmaid – Hagar. Thus, Ishmael was no longer Abraham’s son and was cut off from the family and the inheritance.
Interestingly Genesis 6 talks describes a group of fallen angels called the “sons of God”. Additionally, Job 1:6 tells us of a time when “the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.” Like Abraham, God has other sons who were not chosen to be the promised seed.
Another interesting parallel here is that Abraham is said to have loved Isaac. And when Jesus came up from the waters of Baptism a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Both sons were beloved of their fathers.
Land of Moriah- Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son in the land of Moriah. Moriah was a mountainous region that included Jerusalem, the same area Jesus was crucified. In fact, some believe that the mountain Isaac was brought to was the same exact mountain that Jesus was crucified upon! I won’t argue with them.
Genesis 22:3 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.
Early in the morning- Notice Abraham’s quick obedience. He didn’t procrastinate this command even though it must have been the most dreadful journey he had ever taken. Looking ahead 2,000 years, I can’t imagine the anguish our Heavenly Father went through watching as His bloodied and beaten Son carried the cross on His back all the way up to the mountain where He would be crucified.
Clave the wood for the burnt offering- Like Jesus, Isaac carries the very wood that he was to be bound to the altar with, detailing more of the picture of what was to come. But there is still yet is a lesson for us here too. We must also be willing to make great sacrifices for the kingdom of God. For “Jesus said unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).
Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
On the third day- We’re going to find out soon that Isaac will be delivered from death on the third day just as Jesus was delivered from death on the third day (1 Cor. 15:4). The parallels between Isaac and Jesus are beginning to be almost too many to count!
Genesis 22:5 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.
Worship- This is the first time the word “worship” is used in the Bible.
Genesis 22:6 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.
Laid it upon Isaac- Again, just as Abraham laid the wood of the altar upon Isaac, God laid the wood of the cross upon His Son – Jesus (See Psalms 22).
They went both of them together- Both the Father and the Son go “together” willingly to make this sacrifice. John 10:17-18 says, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment I have received of my Father.
Genesis 22:7 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?
Where is the lamb? Though God had a ram prepared as a temporary substitute (Heb. 10:4) for Isaac, the real substitutional sacrifice was to eventually be the “Lamb slain”, i.e. Jesus Christ, prepared by God since the “foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). God knew exactly where this lamb was when Isaac asked this question.
Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
God will provide himself a lamb- This is a prophetic statement! Abraham foreknew that God would provide the real sacrifice. This prophetic sacrifice was identified 2000 years later when John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Furthermore, in the book of Revelation Jesus is referred to as the Lamb 26 times!
Isaiah 53:4-7 also speaks to this by saying, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, and as a lamb before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
Genesis 22:9 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.
To the place- No doubt the same mountain Jesus was crucified on which was later called Calvary or Golgotha (Luke 23:33, Matt. 27:33).
Bound Isaac his son- Again, we see here a vivid prophetic picture of the Father binding His Son to the cross as a sacrifice.
Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
To slay his son- Here we come to the climax of Abraham’s faith and obedience being tested. I wonder if he thought it would go this far. Maybe he thought when he got up to the mountain God would have a sacrifice waiting there for him. Nevertheless, at this point Abraham believes God will raise Isaac from the dead if he is allowed to go through with this. As it is written:
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him a figure” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
I believe the overriding purpose of this was God conveying to us how difficult it was for Him to sacrifice His beloved Son. This would be the most agonizing thing any Father would have to do. But it had to be done, or we would be without hope, doomed to eternal damnation. For “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22), but now we are “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). His love for us is beyond comprehension.
Genesis 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
Genesis 22:12 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.
Lay not thine hand upon the lad- What a sigh of relief this must have been to both Abraham and Isaac. But all this brings us to this question:
Q. Does God approve of human sacrifice?
Some critics say yes. They believe God approves of human sacrifice because He sacrificed His own son – Jesus.
But we read in Deuteronomy 12:31 that God considered human sacrifice to be an “abomination”. In 2 Kings 16:3 God condemned king Ahaz because “he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen.” Same thing with Manesseh king of Israel. God said that he “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen…And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger” (2 Kings 21:2,6). So clearly God is against human sacrifice.
There is not once instance in the Word of God where God allowed a human to sacrifice another human.
True, Jesus did lay down his own life for the sheep (John 10:15) and God did approve of His sacrifice, but technically Jesus was murdered. In Acts 2:23 when talking to the men of Israel Peter said, “by wicked hands” you “have crucified and slain” Jesus. Acts 2:36 says, “let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Furthermore, what the critics don’t take into account is that though Jesus was fully human He was also fully God. According to the flesh Jesus would’ve likely had ½ of His DNA from the human Mary and ½ from God the Father. That would make Him definitely something more than an ordinary human. Could you say ½ human and ½ supernatural?
Even if we say that Jesus was a human sacrifice, He would have been the only “lawful” human sacrifice in all of history. No other human was perfect enough to take upon them the sins of the world. Any attempt would be like trying to offer up an impure or blemished sacrifice to God. That would be an abomination! God specifically forbade the offering of any blemished sacrifice. In Deuteronomy 15:21 He said, “if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God.”
Now I know that thou fearest God- The test was now complete. Abraham passed and God now knows what is in his heart. Like Abraham, fearing and revering God is essential. Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Without the fear of God there is no obedience. Just look at our culture today. We’re seeing a society that is crumbling apart with every sort of immorality, depravity, and wickedness because there is so little fear of God. Let that not be so in your family.
Do you fear and love God like Abraham did? Abraham fulfilled the command that Jesus would later give to those wishing to follow Him. Jesus says, “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
Hast not withheld thy son- Abraham did not withhold anything from God. He was obedient to His will. Neither did God withhold His only Son from paying the price to save us from our sins.
Genesis 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
Ram caught in a thicket- No doubt the ram was pierced and bleeding from being caught up in the thorns of the thicket bush. Another picture of Jesus’ head dripping with blood as He wore the “crown of thorns” pressed upon his head by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:13).
In the stead of his son- Here we see that God had a substitutional sacrifice in His plan all along. This ram of course was a type of Jesus who would be sacrificed in our stead, to pay the price for our sins.
Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
Jehovahjireh- יְהֹוָה יִרְאֶה Yehovah Yireh means “God will provide”. A prophetic name given to the place where God would provide the true sacrifice for the sins of the world.
It shall be seen- And it was! 2,000 years later the Son of God was nailed to a wooden cross.
We just read one of the most spectacular group of verses in the Bible foretelling in great detail of a time when God would provide His only begotten son as a substitutional sacrifice for the sins of the mankind. This was no easy sacrifice, not for the Son or for the Father. I hope you got that from what we read. I believe God wants us to know that.
And let us never take His love for granted. But rather forever cherish the sacrifice He made for us.
Despite what the critics and unbelievers say, Man could not possibly have orchestrated all these parallels between the call of Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac around 2,000 B.C., and the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ around 30 A.D. Two almost identical scenes happening 2,000 years apart from one another. Oh, it would be easy for someone to re-enact the scene of the Crucifixion in type today, after the fact. But it would have been impossible for Abraham to enact the scene of the Crucifixion 2,000 years beforehand, that would be carried out by the Scribes and Pharisees along with the Chief Priest and the Roman government. Only God could have orchestrated this.
After reading what you read here, there is now no excuse for unbelief. No excuse to deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
By Pastor Ben Heath