Sacrifices are often remembered and celebrated, aren’t they?
We remember those who gave their lives in service to country, to freedom, and to faith.
Many are remembered who gave their lives in obedience to a religion.
Simply, sacrifices are often remembered, aren’t they, and many around the world are doing such a thing now.
One often discussed sacrifice we see in Scripture is the planned and prepared sacrifice of Isaac:
“God said, “Take your son—your only son, whom you love, Isaac —and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.”
(Genesis 22.2, NET)
This was even more shocking and scandalous (if that is possible) due to the fact that Abraham had already been told that Isaac was the child of promise, the child through whom the promises of God to Abraham would pass (Genesis 21.12).
Why, then, did God ask Abraham to offer up his son?
Why did God ask Abraham to do something that He later condemns as abhorrent and evil? (see Jeremiah 7.31, for example).
Many people will have many explanations or suggestions; it was a test of faith, it was a test of obedience, or it was to reveal Himself as provider (יְהוָה יִרְאֶה (yhwh yirʾeh)). All these may be a true to a degree, but I think there is a deeper and more profound reason.
The story we read of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis foreshadows and previews the planned and prepared sacrifice of another Father and Son, one which was seen through to completion, one which fulfilled what Abraham and Isaac acted out in theme (1 Corinthians 15.3, John 1.29, 19.17, 1 Peter 1.18-19, Revelation 5.6).
“…this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.”
(John 3.16-18, NET, emphasis added)
Everything about Abraham and Isaac previews, foreshadows, and was then fulfilled in, Jesus. He was the beloved Son sacrificed in faith, in obedience, to reveal God as provider, and to take away sins (Leviticus 1).
Many around you will talk of sacrifices throughout the year, and continually year on year (Hebrews 10.1-3), but there is only one that was done once and for all (Hebrews 10.12-14).
Many will proclaim personal forgiveness and cleansing from the blood of another shed on their behalf, an animal perhaps (Hebrews 10.4), but there is only one sacrifice that has the power to save you from the consequences of your sin and grant you eternal life (John 1.29, 3.16-17).
Many will claim temporary atonement through the death of another, but there is only one whose atoning sacrifice is enough to pay the price for our sins, permanently, and not only our sins but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2).