Abraham was sovereignly called by God in a remarkable way and was told to leave his country and family for a place that God would show him (Genesis 12:1-3). Though Abraham’s father worshipped other gods (Joshua 24:2) on the other side of the River Euphrates, Abraham heeded the voice of the Lord and was obedient to Him.
Promises made to Abraham included a land, a great nation and a great blessing in all the families of the earth. God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendants and gave them the land as an everlasting possession, and He would be their God.
It wasn’t until the time of Joshua that the children of Israel entered the Promised Land. Prior to that, God gave Abraham numerous descendants and changed his name from ‘Abram’ meaning ‘lofty father’ to ‘Abraham’ meaning ‘father of many nations’.
How would all the families of the earth be blessed in Abraham?
The families of the earth would be blessed through the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It isn’t until the very first verse in the B’rit Hadasha (New Testament) in Matthew 1:1 that we discover that Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah is the Son of Abraham and the Son of David.
Jesus taught as no one else ever taught. He was asked an astonishing question concerning whether he had seen Abraham to which He gave an extraordinary response.
Before Abraham was, I AM
‘Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58).”’ Claiming equality with Abraham would be a strong assertion in itself, but stating that He was before Abraham and referring to Himself as “I AM” unmistakeably evidenced equality with God the Father. Remember before the Exodus, God instructed Moses to say to Pharaoh that “I AM” has sent me to you.
Isaac, the son of promise
When God made the covenant with Abraham, He also promised that he would bear a son whose name would be Isaac and that He would establish His covenant with Isaac as an everlasting covenant and his descendants after him (Genesis 17:19). Although both Abraham and Sarah were of a great age, Sarah did conceive a son and they called him Isaac.
Abraham’s faith is tested
After those events, God tested Abraham. Though this test deepened and confirmed Abraham’s faith, there is an even greater event that affects all the families of earth through the Son of Abraham.
God instructed Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, whom he loved and to go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering.
They journeyed together and Isaac asked his father Abraham where the lamb was for the offering. Can you imagine the enormity and the sorrow of what Abraham felt as they prepared the altar? Abraham wisely responded by reassuring Isaac that God would provide a lamb for the burnt offering.
Notice there is no mention of a struggle on Isaac’s behalf as he lay on the altar. Abraham stretched out his hand to slay his son and then the Angel of the Lord told him not to lay his hand on the lad since he had not withheld his son, in fact his only son, from Him.
The Lamb of God
God immediately provided a ram which Abraham offered in the place of Isaac. Why was an offering needed?
‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul (Lev. 17:11).’ Hebrews 9:22 contains the same principle, reminding us of priestly sacrifices. ‘And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.’
Now consider Rabbi Eliezer’s prayer recited on Yom Kippur. “Our righteous Messiah has turned away from us, we have acted foolishly and there is no one to justify us. Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions he bears and he is pierced for our transgressions. He carries our sins on his shoulder, to find forgiveness for our iniquities. By his wounds we are healed.”
On Yom Kippur, the High Priest would enter the holy of holies to make atonement. Similarly, Jesus gave Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice to make atonement for our sin which separates us from God, to reconcile us to a holy God. He never sinned and was the perfect, unblemished Son of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Jacob’s ladder & the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob
Isaac’s son Jacob dreamed of a ladder that reached from earth to heaven. The angels of God were ascending and descending on it. God revealed Himself to Jacob as the God of Abraham and Isaac, promised the land to him and his descendants and to be with him wherever he went.
Jacob called the place ‘Bethel’, meaning ‘the house of God’ at the gate of heaven and then recognised he had met with God. When Jesus met Nathanael, He said to him,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man (John 1:51).”
Many try to climb the ladder of ‘good works’ to enter heaven, but salvation is by grace through faith in God. Jesus is the Son of Abraham through which all nations are blessed. He is the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Be reconciled to God in whom there is salvation for those who turn to Him and trust in Him.