Messianic Prophecy In The Pentateuch (Five)

It is written:

“Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)

In Genesis 22, we read about how God instructed Abraham to offer his son, Isaac in order to test his faith. The prophetic foreshadowing of Jesus the Messiah from this account are truly amazing.

First, the text tells us that Isaac is called Abraham’s “only” son (Genesis 22:-1-2). In the Greek Septuagint, this is translated with the phrase monogenes, or “only begotten.” Indeed, Isaac is referred to as the “only begotten” son of Abraham (Hebrews 11:17). The phrase didn’t mean ONLY son, as Abraham had many other children besides Isaac (Genesis 25:1-6); it meant the “only” son in a special unique way. Consider that Jesus is also identified as the “only begotten” Son of the Father (John 3:16).

Second, Isaac and Jesus were both in their thirties when the “sacrifice” had to be made.

“Where did this concept of righteous martyrdom first arise? According to Jewish tradition, it went back to the binding of Isaac. When Abraham was ready to offer his own son as a sacrifice to God, this same Book of Fourth Maccabees states: “Isaac offered himself for the sake of righteousness…. Isaac did not shrink when he saw the knife lifted against him by his father’s hand” (4 Maccabees 13:12; 16:20). “This was the understanding of the rabbis. They believed that Isaac was a grown man (actually, thirty-seven years old!) when God tested Abraham, commanding him to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). Although the biblical account emphasizes the obedience of Abraham, the rabbis also stressed the obedience of Isaac. “In fact, there is a midrash that says at the time of creation, when God was about to make man, the angels asked what man’s significance was. One of his answers was this: “You shall see a father slay his son, and the son consenting to be slain, to sanctify my Name” (Tanhuma, Vayyera, sec. 18). That was the height of sacrificial service: “A father offering up his own son, and the son willingly laying down his life for the glory of God. Yes, I know that sounds like the gospel. In fact, the midrash compares Isaac, who carried on his shoulder the wood for the burnt offering (himself!), to “one who carries his cross on his own shoulder.”270”. (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus: Volume Two-Theological Objections, 158-159 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Third, both Isaac and Jesus bore their wood to the hill of Mount Moriah. This is especially interesting when we consider Genesis 22 and the “Crown Of Thorns” that Jesus wore (Mark 15:17-19). Bercott has written:

“I mentioned earlier that I think we would all agree that in Abraham being commanded to offer up Isaac, this prefigured God offering up His Only-Begotten Son. But I never noticed the significance of some of the specific details until the early Christians pointed them out. “For example, the account reads: “So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together” (Gen 22: 6). Do you see something there that happened in the life of Christ? As I mentioned, I think we all realize that Isaac represents Christ in this scene. Who carries the wood to the place of sacrifice? Isaac. “Likewise, Jesus started out having to carry his own cross, until he was physically unable. There’s another interesting detail. Once God stopped Abraham from offering up Isaac, He pointed to a ram. Again, I think we would all recognize this ram as also prefiguring Christ. It says in our English Bibles: “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns” (Gen 22: 13). “However, the Septuagint says that the ram was caught “in a sabek plant” by its horns. Now, the sabek plant was a thorny, Mideastern plant. Do you get the picture? The ram’s head was surrounded by thorns, just as Jesus’ head was circumscribed by the crown of thorns.” (David Bercot, Shadows Of Christ In The Old Testament, 323-332 (Kindle Edition); Amberson, PA; Scroll Publishing)

Fourth, please remember that it was on the same hill (Mount Moriah) that both Isaac and Jesus were to be sacrificed.

Fifth, the Bible teaches us that it was on the “third day” that Abraham received his son back “from the dead.”

Genesis 22:4-Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.

Now we have to realize what is happening here. In Abraham’s mind, his son was already dead. So on the third day, he figuratively received his son back from the dead. This is so powerful, because Abraham had so much faith in God that he believed that He would raise Isaac up from the dead. The writer of Hebrews points this out:

Hebrews 11:17-19-17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

In the same way, we are reminded that it was on the third day that Jesus arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Throughout the Old Testament, the number three was used symbolically to represent hope out of hopelessness and life out of lifelessness.

“We should first look at some prophecies that make reference to restoration—or rescue from death—on the third day. • Hosea 6:1-2 states, “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” This is a word given to Israel as a whole, but the sequence is there: full restoration on the third day!352 • According to Genesis 22:4, it was on the third day that Abraham arrived at Mount Moriah and prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac—that important event known in later Rabbinic tradition as the Akedah, “the binding (of Isaac)”—an event seen as a Messianic foreshadowing by the rabbis (see above, 4.1). In similar fashion, the Letter to the Hebrews notes, “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” (Heb. 11:19)—and this took place on the third day. • This was the time set for the miraculous healing of King Hezekiah, who as a son of David serves as somewhat of a Messianic prototype (cf. also b. Sanhedrin 94a, 98a): “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD’ ” (2 Kings 20:5; cf. also v. 8). • Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days (a deathlike experience, to be sure!—cf. Jonah 2:1-9) before being spit out on dry land, and hence saved from his watery tomb (Jonah 1:17; 2:10). Jesus himself makes reference to this event in the context of his death and resurrection (see, e.g., Matt. 12:40). Elsewhere in the Tanakh, it is striking to see how often the third day has special significance: • God told the children of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai to be ready for the third day “because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (Exod. 19:10). • After calling the people to fast for three days for divine intervention to save her Jewish people from annihilation, on the third day, Esther stood before the king and appealed for mercy (Esther 5:1). • The building of the Second Temple was completed on the third day of the month of Adar (Ezra 6:15). • On the third day after Joseph interpreted the dreams of two of his fellow prisoners—both of whose dreams included a symbolic “three”—one of the men was hung and the other man restored to his former position (Gen. 40:1-23). • Sacrifices left until the third day could no longer be eaten but were to be wholly consumed by the altar’s flames (Lev. 7:17-18; 19:6-7). • It was on the third day—and in the third battle—that the Israelites defeated their Benjamite brothers in battle (see Judges 20, esp. 20:30). • After three days the Israelites crossed the Jordan—by the miraculous intervention of God (Josh. 1:11; 3:2).353 Based on this biblical data, the German biblical scholar Roland Gradwohl argued that “‘three days’ is a stereotyped phrase used bv the Old Testament in describing a situation when something will be fulfilled or completed within a useful and reasonable time…. The ‘third day’ is used to describe the moment when an event attains its climax.”354 Another German scholar, K. Lehmann, wrote an entire volume on the subject of resurrection on the third day, pointing to passages such as Exodus 19:11, 16; Genesis 22:4; 2 Kings 20:5; Esther 5:1; Hosea 6:2 (all cited above) as evidence that the third day was associated with special divine activity, something that caught the attention of the ancient rabbis as well.355 These insights, coupled with some key verses about restoration, salvation, or rescue from death on the third day, give Paul the right to say that the Messiah rose from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. There would have been no day more suitable than this, from the viewpoint of the Word of God.356” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus: Volume Three-Messianic Prophecy Objections, 181-183 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Indeed, the account of Isaac provides many amazing prophecies of the Messiah.

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