Being led to the New Testament from Genesis
I’m teaching a course on Genesis at the moment at Cornhill. This morning we were asking what the right lines are to draw from Gen. 22.1-19 (the offering up of Isaac) to the New Testament.
(I like to speak of drawing lines ‘to the New Testament’, to indicate that we need to come forward both to God and Christ and to us. The NT itself draws applications from the OT both to God and Christ and to us, and therefore so should we.)
As regards coming to God and Christ from 22.1-19, the initial thing I wanted the students to see is that the passage is more interested in Abraham than in Isaac. That already suggests that it’s not central to this passage to make much of Isaac as ‘carrying wood on his back up a mountain to his sacrificial death’; that’s a true point, but a subsidiary one.
Once that is clear, Abraham emerges as a foreshadowing (type) of both the Father and of Christ. He is primarily a type of the Father because he is willing to give up even the son he loves deeply (Rom. 8.32 comes to mind). That pictures for us the provision of a sacrifice that the Father will ultimately give.
Abraham is also (a little less obviously, I think, but truly) a type of Christ, since the passage stresses his obedient trust in God in being willing to give up what is most precious to him. Of course his obedience, unlike Abraham’s, actually led to a real death, even his own.
As regards coming to us from 22.1-19, Heb. 11.17-19 gives us a solid basis for taking Abraham as a model of embracing God’s promises through times of testing.
There is such richness in the way God has caused this Scripture to be written so that it points forward to the New Testament. No single sermon can do justice to all of this, and the preacher will have to be ruthlessly selective. But the preacher who sees these things and ponders on them will never be short of solidly text-driven applications, however often he returns to such well-known passages.