In the Pentateuch, Abraham’s journey to Mount Moriah and his sacrificial worship there foreshadow Israel’s worship at Mount Sinai. After his three day journey and his tremendous willingness to obediently sacrifice his son. Abraham is the first to offer without reservation a ram on Mount Moriah as an act of worship. Later, the Israelite want a three-day journey into the desert to worship God, presumably upon the mountain of God. There the Lord appears to them, gives them the law, and promises a blessing to those who will keep the law. Every Israelite father redeems his firstborn son by an animal substitute, just as the angel of the Lord spared the firstborn by the Passover substitute.
Within the canon of Scripture, the story of Abraham’s willingness to obediently sacrifice his son of promise typifies Christ’s sacrifice. Abraham’s declaration that “God himself will provide the lamb” resonates with God’s offer of the Lamb to save the world. God’s provision of the ram on Mount Moriah typifies his sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ultimately God provides the true Lamb without blemish that stands in humanity’s place. This Lamb of God dies instead of the elect so that they might live.
The obedience of Isaac and Abraham is a type of the Son of God, The true suffering Servant. Like Isaac, Christ is a lamb led to the slaughter, yet he does not open his mouth. Just as Isaac carries his own wood for the altar up the steep mount, Christ carries his own wooden cross toward Golgotha. Just as Abraham sacrificially and obediently lays Isaac on the altar, so Christ sacrificially and obediently submits to his father’s will. Abraham’s devotion (“You have not withheld from me your son, your only son”) is paralleled by God’s love to us in Christ as reflected in John3:16 and Rom. 8:32, which may allude to this verse,. Symbolically, Abraham receives Isaac back from death, which typifies Christ’s resurrection from the death of the cross. In taking and oath to bless Abraham and all nations through him, God guarantees the promise to Abraham’s offspring. Abraham’s obedience prefigures the active obedience of Christ, who secures the convenantal blessings for Abraham’s innumerable offspring.
by Bruce K. Waltke
with Cathi J. Fredricks