Better than Abraham & Isaac
One big story, and only one hero.
We began the blog series looking at the life, success, and failures of Noah, and how we need more than he can offer. This week we look at the two main characters in this part of the story, Abraham and Isaac, and learn even more about our Savior, Jesus.
In Genesis 3:15, we are given the promise that the seed (offspring) of the woman will one day crush the seed of the serpent, and so begins the battle of the offspring. Throughout redemptive history, we see this picture of a good and a bad son. Cain and Abel (Seth), Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob. Throughout the story, the Bible helps us understand who the represents “the seed of the woman” - i.e. the good son, by giving us the descendants of main characters that link to the next main character.
For instance, in Genesis 5, we find that Adam’s line connects to Noah. The promise of the seed of deliverance makes it all the way to, and through, the flood. From there we see the connection of patriarchs (the heads of household, and how they would have mapped a family tree) to Abraham in Genesis 10. Why does this matter?
Because God has promised to send a deliverer through this specific line - the line of the good son and throughout the Old Testament there is a pregnant hope that each new person that God raises up in the story may be that “promised seed!”
This brings us to father Abraham: He is chosen by God, in the line of Adam, to be a blessing to the nations, “in you all families on the earth shall be blessed.” The promise to Abraham reveals yet another aspect of the mission of God in the world: through him, a nation will be formed to become a blessing to the world. But how? And what does that mean? Abraham doesn’t even have a son at this point, let alone the ability to be a blessing to every nation.
The promise to Abraham finds it’s long-awaited “yes and Amen” in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The promised seed of the woman, the son of Mary, is a descendant of Abraham. Abraham was the root from which Israel would spring up to bless the nations, but they failed to accomplish this task. Only in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus do we find a true blessing to all people. The yoke of oppression and every injustice in this world are cast away in the name of Jesus. Not necessarily in an immediate, earthly sense, but Jesus dispels the greater power of sin and injustice that frees God’s chosen people, for eternity, from the power and presence of sin.
In Jesus, we see the Lord do what he asked Abraham to do to Isaac in Genesis 22. Abraham’s faithfulness was required in the face of extreme sacrifice. And on the part of Isaac, God demanded obedience.
One commentator points out how old Isaac was and how strong he would have been. Any young man able to carry the firewood for an offering on his back could certainly outrun a 100+-year-old man. And yet he is obedient to the journey up the mountain, stacking the wood, allowing himself to be bound by his Father and placed like a lamb on the altar. Isaac’s obedience to the will of his Father is astounding.
And yet he is spared. Why? Because the blood of a sinful young man can do nothing to solve our sin problem. We need a different hero. One who is sinless from birth, obedient in his journey of life, obedient in carrying his own cross, obedient in submission to the will of the Father, and spotless lamb that can be killed for the sins of the world. Isaac won’t do; we need Jesus.
It is through sacrifice that Jesus blesses all people. Without his death on the cross, the nations are not blessed. All people will have to be wiped out by the wrath of God, because the just punishment for sin is death, and yet God already promised to Noah that he would never again take all life. God’s promise to Abraham hinges on the obedience of Christ. From Christ a new nation is born, the church. We are a people properly equipped to bring the blessing of love and good news to the nations until the glorious day when Jesus returns and dwells with his people forever.
Tanner Fox is the Minister for Mission at First Pres. He’s a recent grad of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds deep affection for people, movies, sports and Jesus Christ. As Minister for Mission, he leads the charge to help you love and serve the city and the world. firstname.lastname@example.org