Monday, March 13, 2017

connecting the dots (pt. 2)

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Genesis 23
(Today concludes a 2 part article centered on the classic story of Abraham & Isaac, found in Genesis 22:1-14. If you were hoping for an in-depth examination of haggling over burial places, I am sorry to disappoint you.)
The entire Bible is designed to point us towards Jesus Christ. Every story whispers His name in one way or another. Yesterday we observed the amazing parallels in the story of Abraham and the offering of his son Isaac, and our Father in Heaven and the offering of His Son Jesus by focusing on the verbs in the passage. Today, we will find further insight by examining some key nouns. These objects, in a story occurring about 4,000 years ago, are able to better communicate the message of the cross than any other story I can come up with. So let's fill in the lines and see what kind of picture these "dots" give us.
Object 1: Only Son
Why the only son? Didn't Abraham have Ishmael and other sons after Isaac?
Indeed he did. But none of them were like Isaac. All of God's promises and plans were to come via him. Earlier on in chapter 21, God confirmed this to Abraham stating, "through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned." Isaac was the plan- there was no plan B. God made that abundantly clear in this book.
In the same way, God also sent His Only Son, and has made it clear that He is the the plan. There's only one way. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (1)." Furthermore, Christ is also the fulfillment of every covenant "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ (2)."
Object 2: Mountain
Why a mountain? Why this particular mountain? Why the entire journey to begin with?
There is nothing quick or easy about this entire story. Everything took time and planning: preparing for the trip, gathering of materials, traveling three days, climbing up the mountain, building the altar. Abraham had much time to dwell on his objective and multiple opportunities to back out. There's something deliberate going on here. Secondly, this mountain is not just another big hill. It's Moriah, the same place where Solomon (3) would build his Temple a millennium later. Coincidence? I think not.
Jesus Christ also took the long, hard road. He did not simply beam down, die for our sins, and then beam back to Heaven. He entered this planet through the lowliest door. He lived 90% of His years here in humble and dutiful obscurity. He had many opportunities to back out. Instead, he stuck to the Father's careful plan. That plan brought about great suffering, but the Word of God teaches us that "He learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him ." He also "suffered outside the city gate (4)" in the exact same area where this all started back with Abraham and Isaac.
We don't have the space to continue, but I want you to see that the parallels don't end here; everything in this story points us to Christ. Dot after dot after dot. The wood placed upon His back. The altar, that would one day receive the perfect sacrifice. The thicket that points us to His crown of thorns. And of course- the ram, the final dot that says the same thing that John the Baptist said so many years later: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (5)."
(1) Acts 4:12
(2) 2 Corinthians 1:20
(3) Genesis 22:2; 2 Chronicles 3:1
(4) Hebrews 5:8 & 13:12
(5) John 1:29

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