“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you” (Genesis 22:1-2).
“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Jerusalem is the focal point of the world’s present international tug-of-war. One thousand years ago the Crusades happened, with Christians combating the Muslim invasion. Two thousand years ago, Jesus was there. Three thousand years ago it was David’s city; Jesus’ lineage.

Our first text takes us back four thousand years, when it became the most holy spot on earth. The Dome of the Rock is presently located where the Jewish temple resided. It’s also the location where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

Abraham is enjoying God’s promised child for 30 years. Then God asks the unspeakable: “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, take him to the land of Moriah and offer him up to me as an offering.” The first time the word “love” appears in the Bible is a love of a father for his son. The first usage of the word “love” in the New Testament is God saying, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” This is the first time love is used in all the first three gospels. But in John’s gospel, where the term love is used more than all the other gospels combined, we see God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” God loves His Son, then turns that love towards us!

Critics accuse God of being a moral monster for making such a request. There is a tension in this request; God calls Abraham to a lifestyle different than the pagan nations surrounding him, who worshiped their gods by sacrificing their children to them. Now it appears God is asking Abraham to do this for Him as well.

Abraham’s life is an illustration of God the Father and God the Son.

Mt. Moriah’s offering is a type of offering of Christ at Calvary. Mt. Moriah is where Jerusalem was established, where Jesus was sacrificed for our sins. Notice God sacrificed His son, which He did not require of Abraham. Nor does God ever want that from His people. God says a couple of times in the Bible, “It never crossed My mind you would throw your children into the fire.”

The fact that God had to sacrifice His son is not an indication of a blood thirsty God, but the radical price of sin that was paid on our behalf. Sin requires death, so God stepped in and took the punishment He pronounced over sin on our behalf. That is the love of God for you.

But why this bizarre test? The test is an evaluation of Abraham’s first love: God or Isaac. Often, we love the gifts of God more than God Himself. We love God for what He does for us more than just enjoying the fact the Creator wants to have a relationship with us. If the Lord withdrew all the physical blessings from your life, would you still stay connected and pursue God, seek him out for conversation, stay loyal if He left you in prison for standing up for Him?

Adapted from “It Happened in Jerusalem” by Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis