When the author of Hebrews brings up the story of Abraham, he’s initially concerned with the faith he had that drew him from his home and family to live as a pilgrim on the earth. But in Chapter 11 verses 17-18, he focuses on the key event of Abraham’s life. It says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” The law forbids such an offering. In Deuteronomy 18:10 God says, “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering.” In light of God’s direct prohibition of such a sacrifice, I’m convinced God had no intention of Abraham carrying out the sacrifice of his son. God would never demand such a sacrifice from anyone but Himself.

Isaac is a picture of Jesus. He was the miraculous son of Abraham and Sarah. They were beyond the age of conception and yet God brought about his conception and birth. It was a miracle. Jesus too had a miraculous conception and birth. Isaac is called “the beloved son” of his father. So too was Jesus. On two occasions, his baptism and transfiguration, the skies opened, and God the Father spoke and said, “this is my beloved son.” Isaac was as good as dead in Abraham’s mind, but then God intervened, and he received his son back from the dead “figuratively speaking.” With Christ it was a reality. God the father received His beloved Son back from the dead. The ram caught in the thicket on Mount Moriah took Isaac’s place on the altar and it was said “on the mount of the Lord He will provide the sacrifice Himself.” It was on the same mountain range that Calvary’s cross held the sacrifice of God’s only son to pay the penalty for our sins. He was and remains as John the Baptist called him, “The lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

Abraham’s faith was a faith that transcended this physical realm. He trusted in the benevolent nature of God regardless of the trials and tests in his life. He knew in his mind and in his heart that God would fulfill His promises. Wiersbe wrote, “The great theologian John Calvin defined faith as ‘a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which, being founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ, is both revealed to our minds, and confirmed to our hearts, by the Holy Spirit.’ Note that faith is founded on divine truth (God’s promise) and is witnessed to by the Spirit in the heart. It has both objective and subjective aspects, and both are essential.”[1] I believe that God is, and that he is positively disposed towards me regardless of my life circumstances. What looks like loss today will end up gain, not necessarily in this life, but in the world to come. Jesus instructs our minds and assures our hearts.

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, With the Word Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), Heb 11:1.