Bible Readings for January 21st

Genesis 22 | Matthew 21 | Nehemiah 11 | Acts 21

In spite of all the long waiting and the extraordinary faith Abraham had to exercise while waiting for Isaac to come, God tests Abraham’s faith in an even greater way in Genesis 22 by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on a mountain in Moriah. Shockingly, we read Abraham bound his son Isaac on top of the altar, but just as Abraham took his knife to slaughter his son, God stopped Abraham from harming Isaac. The test was over. Abraham was willing to do anything for God—not even sparing his own, beloved son.

Why would God ask Abraham to do this? To answer this question, listen to God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:16–18: “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you….And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Everything about this story points us back to the promised offspring—the offspring of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), redeeming creation from the curse of sin and death.

Ultimately, we see in this passage a shadow of the what God would do for us in Jesus Christ. Unlike the way in which God spared Abraham’s son, God did not spare his own Son. Jesus Christ was offered up as a sacrifice, and God did not send an angel to stop the hands of the Roman soldiers who beat him, nailed his hands and his feet to the cross, and let him hang there until he died. Where God did not forsake Isaac, God did forsake his own Son at the cross, abandoning him to wrath and the powers of hell.

And although God gave a substitute sacrifice so that Isaac would not have to die, God provided no such substitute to save his own Son. In fact, Jesus was the substitute, dying on the cross in our place for our sins.

But where Isaac was restored to life by being spared from death, something greater happened with God’s Son. Jesus did go to the grave for three days, but on the third day, God raised up his Son Jesus from the dead, resurrecting him to life and giving him everlasting victory over sin and death. In other words, Jesus gained possession of the gate of his enemy Satan, just as had been foretold in Genesis 22:17.

And because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, all the nations of the earth are blessed (Gen. 22:18). You and I share in the blessings of Abraham because Jesus Christ, the ultimate Isaac and the true offspring of Abraham, died and rose again.

This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus, declared thousands of years in advance, through Isaac.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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