I’m excited about our current study together…how about you? We’ve examined the idea of Israel being the vehicle through which God uses to redeem the world. (See here and here) In our study, we have looked carefully at the final phrase of Genesis 12:3, which indicates that, through Israel, all the families of the earth will be blessed. To that end, we have dug into God’s various callings upon Israel, including a birthing call and a suffering call. Today, we will look at a third call: a priestly call. For the basis of this call, let’s go to Genesis 22:5-12:
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 the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay 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 stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
Amazing! God commanded Abraham to take his one and only son, whom he loved, bind him to an altar and sacrifice him there. Thus, fulfilling a priestly duty to offer sacrifices to atone for sin. However, God in His infinite mercy did not allow Abraham to go through with it, but rather provided a lamb in Isaac’s place!
But, let’s read the “faith” account in Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT):
It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.
Read carefully. Did you catch it? Abraham believed he received Isaac back from the dead! Could it be that God gave Abraham a vision some 2,000 or so years into the future? Did Abraham see the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection from the dead? After all, the account of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac is often recounted as a “Christophany”…a type of Christ-like appearance before the birth of Jesus.
You see, this was a priestly call. God showed the sacrificial death of Jesus to Abraham. Thus, it was through Abraham and his Jewish descendants that we were given the death of Jesus. (Make a mental note here, and we’ll come back to this tomorrow. Don’t miss it!) Jesus would ultimately come in the fullness of time, and the Jewish people would not recognize Him.
Friends, Jesus’ miracles don’t save us. In fact, not even His teachings save us. It is His death that saves us! The perfect lamb, sacrificed for our sin, on an altar in the very place Abraham offered his son, Isaac. You see, God placed a priestly calling upon Israel, for it was through Israel that the sacrifice was made. It is through Israel that we, a “kingdom of priests” (Revelation 5:10), bow our head and thank God. We just celebrated the most holy days on the Christian calendar, as we looked to the day Jesus our Lord was sacrificed as a sin offering for us. The sacrifice was complete (Hebrews 10:12), our sins were forgiven (1 Peter 2:24), and righteousness was imputed to us (Romans 8:10). But more importantly, we celebrated the glorious day (three days later) when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, giving us life! Jesus Christ, our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 8:8), fulfilled the priestly call! Praise His Holy Name!
(Check back tomorrow as we attempt to unravel a complicated idea regarding the death of Jesus.)