February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“God himself will provide the lamb . . .” Genesis 22:8 (NIV)
Have you heard someone say, “It’s so crazy that it just might work”? It’s a common TV/movie trope where heroes who are desperate devise an irrational, nonsensical, unbelievable plan, and it works. A good example is Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, where the rebels concoct a desperate plan to attack the Death Star with a small force in the hopes that one fighter plane could shoot a torpedo into a random vent, setting off a chain reaction, destroying the entire space station. Crazy, right? Crazy enough to work!
Why am I telling you all this? Because on the surface, that’s what we see in Genesis 22! But first, let’s recap where we left off yesterday. God created the universe in five days and on the sixth day, mankind. He placed them in the Garden, blessed them, and instructed them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Genesis 3 tells us Adam and Eve were tempted and turned away from God. In that moment, the Bible says, “sin entered the world . . . and death through sin” (Romans 5:12 NIV).
This wasn’t the end of the story, though. You see, God loved Adam and Eve. And so, in order to cover the debt of their sin, something needed to die in place of the sinner. For this reason, the act of sacrifice became necessary in order to pay for the debt of sin. Why? Because the cost of our sin is death “and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV).
In Genesis 3:21 (NLT) we’re told, “the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” In order for God to cover the shame of Adam and Eve’s sin, an innocent animal had to be sacrificed. This was the origin of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and the first rehearsal of God’s plan of salvation for all mankind.
So, now we arrive at Genesis 22. Here, God instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Wait, what? That makes no sense! You see, God told Abraham in Genesis 12 that He would make him into a great nation, and Isaac was the child through whom that was to take place. But then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and . . . sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2 NIV).
This must have been a heart-wrenching and indescribably painful thing for Abraham. Isaac was Abraham’s beloved son; the future of God’s covenant rested on him. But Abraham heard God and immediately obeyed in faith.
You see, Abraham knew God’s will would never contradict His promise, so he held on to the promise which said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called” (Genesis 21:12 NKJV). Abraham believed that even if God allowed him to sacrifice his son, He could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17–19).
In this we see the true nature of faith. It doesn’t demand explanations; it rests on promises. That’s why Abraham was able to tell his son, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering . . .” (Genesis 22:8 NIV, emphasis added).
So, what happened? Well, Isaac—who was a full-grown man and not a naïve child as he’s usually depicted in children’s books—knew what was happening, carried the wood for his own sacrifice, and remained silent as he was being placed on the altar. He didn’t protest when Abraham raised the knife. He willingly gave himself up to his father. But God stayed Abraham’s hand and provided another sacrifice. “So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided’” (Genesis 22:14 NIV).
Do you see the pattern? Adam and Eve should have died for their sins, but God provided another sacrifice, as He did for Isaac. Fast forward to Exodus, the Passover, and the spotless lamb, which each point us to His plan to reverse the curse that began in the Garden, to restore what was broken, to rescue us from sin, death, and hell, to make us alive once again, and to bring us into perfect peace with Him!
Christmas is a celebration of the moment God provided the perfect, sinless “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 NKJV)!
Pause: Why was the sacrificial system necessary for the covering of sin? How does Jesus cover all sin for all time?
Practice: Read Genesis 22 and reflect on how this story points to the coming of Jesus.
Pray: Father, thank You for not leaving us to try and rescue ourselves; to cover our own sin. Thank You for instead providing the Lamb who would take away my sins and the sins of the world. I pray this Christmas season would be one where so many who are lost and far off would come to You and have their sins forgiven and taken away. I pray You would use me to declare like John that the Lamb of God has come to save them. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.