(Gen 22:13 CEV) Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it in place of his son.
This upcoming Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, or what some call Easter Sunday. The importance of the Resurrection of Jesus cannot be overstated. So this week I take a pause from our series on Grace to teach a mini-series entitled “PASSION WEEK.” Yesterday I provided you an overview of everything that happened to Jesus during this week, and today I want to take you all the way back to Abraham to discuss an important concept: substitution.
Genesis 22 opens with the Lord instructing Abraham to take his “only” son Isaac and to sacrifice him in the land of Moriah. To understand the magnitude of the request we must understand that this boy was a child of promise. Abraham waited on this promised son of Sarah for many years, although not always operating in patience. Abraham wound up having another son (Ishmael) with his servant Gomar. This really made Isaac his second son, but God referred to him as the “only” son, because he was the son of promise. Abraham incredibly looked beyond his years of frustration while waiting for the boy and beyond the awesomeness of the request and set out the next morning to kill the son that he loved for the God that he served. He got up early in the morning and took off with his donkey, the materials for the sacrifice, his servants, and his son. After a three day journey Abraham finally saw the place that Lord led him to in the distance. He told his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Notice that he said, “…we will come back to you.” He had faith in God that somehow they would both be back together. Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood. He then bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar. Here you have an old man that waited many years for a child of promise, taking the same child and raising a knife to kill him for the God of the promise. When Abraham lifted up his knife to shed the blood of his promised son, the angel of the Lord stopped him and brought his attention a ram that was caught in a nearby thicket. The Lord honored Abraham’s faith and provided the ram for the sacrifice in the stead of the boy.
This is chock full of application about faith, promises, and provision, but this morning I want to highlight a seldom talked about subject: substitution. Let’s break down the text:
1. Isaac was the second son, but he was the child of promise.
2. God instructed the ‘Father of Faith’ to sacrifice this second and promised son.
3. At the point of sacrifice, the Lord stopped it and provided a ram to die in the stead of the man. God tested Abraham’s faith, but stopped him before human sacrifice. God would reserve the shedding of human blood to that of His only begotten Son and the Old Testament would continue to riddled with the blood of animals for the actions of man. The ram in the text and all other animals sacrificed after it had nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding the sacrifice, but they died so that humanity could live. This is substitution.
So what does this mean to you today? Remember that the Old Testament is but a foreshadow of the New. The revelation revealed in the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament. So let’s take a look at the New Testament view of this text:
1. Jesus was the second (Adam was the first) and promised Son of God. And while He was the second, He was also referred to as the “only” begotten of the Father.
2. God instructed Jesus to offer Himself as a sacrifice, thereby shedding human blood and ending the requirement for the shedding of animal blood.
3. Jesus was the only human to never commit sin and therefore not required to pay the penalty for it; but He substituted His righteousness for our sin. Jesus became the innocent Lamb that would die for the guilty man, so that the forgiven man could live for the crucified Lamb. This is substitution.
4. We can now face this day with the peace and assurance that we have been redeemed. Jesus died a substitutionary death so that we could live a substitutionary life. He died for you so that you could live for Him. Jesus put on your sin so that you can put on His righteousness. What are you going to do today that will honor His sacrifice?
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for sending Jesus to die in my stead. Jesus was completely innocent and I was completely guilty. I deserved death and He deserved life. But You willingly sent You second, and promised Son, to die on Calvary’s cross for me. And Jesus willingly died for me, paying a debt He did not owe, for a price I could never pay. Jesus substituted His life for mine. He substituted His righteousness for my sin, so that I could substitute my sin for His righteousness. I honor His sacrifice by giving You my life. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I will be Your legs to walk and Your mouth to talk today and every day. As I enter this PASSION WEEK and as I think about the significance of what happened on Golgotha’s Hill, I will never cease to give You praise for Jesus. Father, use me as an instrument of Your anointing, as a conduit of Your grace, and as an example of Your love. I honor You Lord with my life and service. I now live every day in honor of the one who died for me, and I declare by faith that I am also dead. I am dead to my old man and alive to the newness of the life that Christ Jesus died to give me. The old is gone, the new has come. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus and I shall live like it for the remainder of my days! Jesus’ death, for me, shall not be in vain. I declare this by faith, in the name of the one who died for me… in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!