Church of God
Was Isaac a Type of Christ? - By Don Roth
WAS ISAAC A TYPE OF CHRIST?
One of the most dramatic events of the Old Testament happened when God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. When reading this account it presents a problem. It may seem to be an isolated event in which only Abraham knew what his mission to the land of Moriah was going to be.
For most Bible readers the Book of Genesis presents a real challenge to be able to grasp the full understanding of what took place. The events recorded by Moses are high lights of the history that God wanted known, and is clearly seen in the account of Abraham and Isaac.
For the most part the detailed interaction of the people are not recorded, leading the reader to fill in what surely took place before and during what was presented, and this was true, regarding the sacrifice of Abraham’s son.
Without this realization the sacrifice of Isaac presents somewhat of a distorted view of what actually took place. For example, it appears that without Isaac having any knowledge of what was expected of him, he is taken to an isolated place for what he knows to be a burnt sacrifice to God. Isaac meekly allowed his father to bind him and place him on the wood that was split for a burnt offering. It would seem as though Isaac had this great burst of faith that allowed his father to bind him as a lamb for slaughter.
It is here that mainstream Christianity goes astray, presenting a picture of Isaac being a youth of ten or twelve years, oblivious of what was intended for him. They show a young child carrying a bundle of sticks up the mountain on his way to be sacrificed. The thinking is that only a young child would allow himself to be bound for sacrifice without putting up some sort of resistance.
There are two points to be made here. First we are told that Abraham split the wood for the burnt offering. Gen. 22:3. “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.”
The meaning of this is that the wood was of substantial size that needed splitting; not sticks. Secondly, a burnt offering required the victim to be totally consumed. Hence the larger quantity and size of the wood is required for a substantial fire. Clearly no ten or twelve year old could carry such a load. Obviously Isaac was an adult man in good physical condition. So, how old was he? The answer to that question will be given as the biblical account is more fully examined.
In Gen. 22:1-2. “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.” Then he said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”
At this point in his life Abraham knew that God had given an irrevocable promise that a great nation would come forth from his son Isaac. Therefore, he rightly concluded that God intended to resurrect Isaac after his sacrificial death. Heb. 11:17-19. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who received the promise offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ Concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.’”
Here the first parallel is found of Abraham to Isaac, as God the Father was to Jesus Christ. Just as God offered his only begotten son so Abraham did with Isaac; thus showing Abraham as a type of God the Father, and Isaac as a type of Christ.
The faith to die for our beliefs is not based on some sudden mystical receiving of a determination to carry out God’s will in a time of trial. The simple truth is that without the written word of the Bible there could be no faith. Without the record in the bible of man’s interaction with God and its witness to His guarantee to man that there will be a resurrection to eternal life, faith in Him cannot become a reality.
Rom. 10:14-17. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the word of God,’” The Bible.
In order for these things to happen as recorded, Abraham would have told Isaac and Sarah what his mission would be, and with all confidence declared that the only outcome would be the resurrection of Isaac, and they believed.
It is by the revealing of the true history of the Bible, which contains the promises of God to His chosen, and their acceptance, that the Bible is factual that builds true faith.
Isaacs’s faith was built on Abraham and Sarah’s telling and retelling the miraculous events God accomplished in their lifetime, highlighted by his miraculous birth in their old age. This is just as the Bible tells us today, with the emphasis being placed by them of Isaac being the progenitor of a great nation to come. Gen. 17:15-19, “Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred year old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before you!’ Then God said: ‘No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.” Gen. 18:10-12, “And He said, ‘I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well advanced in age; and Sarah was past the age of child bearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’”
Coupled with the Spirit of God it gave reality to the teaching Isaac received, which strengthened him to face death. Knowing that he would be resurrected allowed him to fulfill his destiny.
Just as those today base their future resurrection on the biblical record of the mighty works of God: the flood, the Exodus and all that followed, there is also a written guarantee to all who believe on Him that there will be a resurrection as shown in Heb. 11:6. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Then what is the reward?
I Thes. 4:1 tell us, “Finally brethren, we urge you and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and please God.” And in verse 14-17 we read: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of our Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
Not only was Abraham’s faith confirmed by his actions, but also the faith of Isaac and Sarah by their willing submission to God’s command.
Continuing to follow the parallel of Isaac to Christ, Isaac was required to carry the wood for his sacrifice knowing he was the sacrifice, just as Christ was forced to carry the cross for His crucifixion. As Abraham and Isaac began the journey up the mountain Isaac questioned his father about a lamb for the sacrifice. This can be compared to Christ when in the garden of Gethsemane as recorded in Luke 22:42-43. “Saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.”
God sent this angel to strengthen Christ and He sent an angel to stop Abraham from killing his son. Abraham’s statement in Gen. 22:8 reads, “And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ And the two of them went together.” Abraham’s statement here was a prophecy that Christ made through John the Immerser in John 1:36. “And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’”
Another parallel is seen in the two young men who accompanied Abraham and Isaac as far as the mountain. In Luke 22:61-62 it is seen that Peter and John followed Christ to the courtyard of the high priest. “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to Him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ Then Peter went out and wept bitterly.”
Also the three days journey to the mountain represents the three days and nights Christ was in the grave. In the minds of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac was already dead from the moment the decision was made to carry out God’s command.
As already pointed out, Isaac would have been a grown man to enable him to carry the wood required for the sacrifice, thus the parallel of Christ‘s age to that of Isaac’s can be drawn. Christ was thirty-three years old when He was crucified. Would Isaac be the same age? It can be shown that Isaac was also thirty-three when he was faced with being sacrificed. This is shown by comparing the calendars for the appropriate years by going to the web site www.biblicalcalendarproof.com and clicking on the calendar generator by inserting the year 1900 BC, the year that he was thirty-three years old. The year of Christ’s crucifixion was 30 AD. Both calendars show that the Passover occurred on a Wednesday, the 14th of Nisan. See the two calendars that follow for confirmation.
To summarize, the following parallels are shown: The first parallel is the proposed sacrifice of Isaac as a burnt offering, a sin offering, as Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrifice for our sins. Second, Abraham had to split the wood. The Father prepared the way to Christ’s death. John 4:34. “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.,’” Third, the two young men accompanied Abraham and Isaac just as Peter and John went to the high priests house. Four, the three days of travel equaling the three days and nights Christ was in the tomb. Five, Isaac’s request for a lamb for the sacrifice, and Christ’s request to have the cup removed from Him in the garden. Six, the angel that prevented Abraham from killing Isaac, as the angel sent to strengthen Christ. Seven, Isaac carried the wood just as Christ carried the cross. Eight, Abraham is pictured as a type of God the Father, willing to sacrifice Isaac as God sacrificed Christ for our sins. Heb. 9:28, “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Thus Isaac was a type of Christ.