Believe it or not, clues to who this mysterious Messiah is are all over the Bible. There are over 300 clues in the Old Testament that point us to the coming Jesus!
The clues in this story are hidden in a test God gave to His friend, Abraham. Read the exam instructions, found in Genesis 22:
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. –vv.1-2
God told Abraham to offer his very own son as a sacrifice of burnt offering. Can you even imagine? The last thing Abraham wanted to do was take his son’s life. He could hardly believe was asking him to do such a horrific act.
But Abraham knew God’s character. He could trust God even though he couldn’t fathom what God was doing. So he “rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (v.3).
The Bible reveals that Abraham’s obedience wasn’t simply a one-time decision. As Abraham chopped each piece of wood to build the fire, chop by chop, piece by piece he wondered what God could be doing. But he kept chopping anyway. As he packed for the three-day trip, stuffing clothes in the bag, placing food in pouches, filling water canteens, he wondered what God could be doing. But he kept packing anyway.
When they arrived, “Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.’ And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together” (22:5-6).
Answer these questions to make sure you’re following:
- What exactly did Abraham say at the end of verse five? Read it again. What do those words say about his faith?
- What does Abraham do in verse six?
- Do you think he actually meant to sacrifice Isaac? What words in the verse show you that?
As the Bible often does, other verses confirm the clues found here. Hebrews 11:17 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac…” and verse 19 says, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead…”
What would you feel if God asked you to sacrifice your son? How would your son respond? To this point in the story, Isaac hadn’t whimpered a single protest.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide;” as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
Don’t miss the clue! Notice that God provided a ram—not a cow, dog, horse, or even a girl sheep. That’s because the sacrifice that God requires is a lamb, a male sheep. Instead of making Abraham go and find what he needed, God provided it exactly for him.
Did you know God has done that for you too? That is why we look forward to Easter: to the day that God provided Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, to be the sacrifice for your sins and mine.
As you finish this second week of Lent, remember that God is gradually revealing more of His plan, more of the Messiah who has come to save us. God loves for us to know Him, and for us to seek and find Him.
Thank You, God, for giving us so many clues to know that Jesus is the Messiah. We are grateful for the Bible that tells us why a sacrifice was needed and what kind you require. Thank you that even in this you have provided for us a sacrifice, One that was perfect in every way. Amen.