From the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis, God introduces us to ‘patterns’ that appear throughout the Bible. One of these patterns is the concept of a sheep being sacrificed to pay the price for sin. For example, God provided a sheep (specifically a ram) for Abraham to sacrifice on Mount Moriah instead of sacrificing his son Isaac (Genesis 22). This introduced the theme that God is the one who would eventually give a lamb to offer – as we shall see. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible.
God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah to test Abraham’s faith. Of course, God had no intention of carrying out the deed, and he dramatically turned the story around by saying that he would provide what was to be sacrificed – a sheep. This foreshadowed God giving us Jesus (the Lamb of God), who would be offered to take away our sins. It is worth noting that Scripture records that Abraham never lost his belief in the goodness of God, even when he was commanded to sacrifice his son. He reasoned that God would and could raise Isaac to life (Hebrews 11:17-19).
The next reference to Mount Moriah occurred in the story of King David when he offered a sacrifice to God on the threshing floor of Arauna (1 Chronicle 21:18 – 22:1). This passage tells us that the top on which Arauna’s threshing base was located was none other than the place David intended to build God’s temple (1 Chronicle 22:1). Many sheep would later be sacrificed at that temple.
… all this pointed to Jesus, who came to us as the “Lamb of God.”
In thiss case, David’s son Solomon built the temple there.
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to David, his father. It was on the threshing floor of Arauna the Jebusite, the place foreseen by David (2 Chronicles 3:1).
The theme of a sheep being sacrificed to atone for sin continues with the story of the first Passover. On this occasion, a lamb’s blood was sprinkled on the doorways of the Jewish huts to indicate that they did not have to undergo the judgment of God. The decision was passed over to them.
The reference to a lamb who died to pay for the sins of the people continued the Jewish custom of offering a lamb every morning and evening in the temple. This should make your spine tingle! And as you no doubt remember, the temple was built on Mount Moriah!
All of this pointed pre-eminently to Jesus, who came to us as the “Lamb of God”. In all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, John the Baptist points to Jesus. He says, “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). In saying this, John prophesied that Jesus would die on the cross as a sacrifice to pay the price for the things we have done that would otherwise disqualify us from God’s presence.
The last book of the Bible, Revelation, also talks about a lamb. Revelation 14:1 speaks of a “Lamb” that looked like it had been slain (Revelation 5:6) standing on Mount Zion. Later, the Lamb’s (Jesus) marriage with the church is mentioned (Revelation 19:6-9).
Clearly, God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is part of a much larger story that exposes God’s saving grace.
Dr. Nick Hawkes is a scientist, preacher, apologist, writer, and broadcaster. He also describes himself as an absent-minded, slightly obsessive man, pathetically weak from cancer and chemo, who has experienced and must experience the grace of God every day.
Nick has written a book, Soar Above the Storm, in which he draws on his experience with cancer to encourage anyone going through a storm to find peace and hope in God. It offers a 40-day retreat to be refreshed and strengthened and to find deep peace in God. Order it from Koorong.