I believe God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were in tears by this point. Then Jesus, who would eventually be the real sacrifice, wiping the tears from His face, says, “I’ll tell him.” Then in His sometimes mysterious Old Testament alias, the Angel of the LORD, He quickly shouts twice from Heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” He had to shout, using the double emphasis of Abraham’s name to express urgency, in order to get him to stop, because Abraham’s faith, though this was extremely painful, was fixed on carrying out His command! What Abraham and Isaac didn’t realize was that the eternal Godhead had just taken them on an experiential journey that was a small foreshadow and window into the indescribable anguish the Father and Jesus, the true Son of the covenant, would experience on the journey to the cross. No, God does not require Isaac to be sacrificed, but rather drives home, deep into their hearts, that He provides it. Do you get it? With tears in His voice, I can hear God saying, “It is not your son, Abraham, that will be sacrificed. It is My Son.” Lastly, we discover, fathers, that we disciple our children into followers of Jesus, when we continually establish in their minds a deep trust that…
GOD PROVIDED A SUBSTITUTE.
From Abraham’s standpoint it would be provided, but praise God, from our standpoint it has been provided! The ram God provided for sacrifice “in the place of his son” was a powerfully vivid picture of Christ’s substitutionary atonement for our sins on the cross. Jesus died in place of us! Through Him we are accepted and forgiven by God and our salvation is secure by faith!
It reminds me of the time Deedre and I did premarital counseling for a couple and when the time came for their distance wedding in Puerto Rico, they simply and generously just provided us with tickets for the trip. Even with Deedré and I putting forth our best efforts to prepare for the trip and to get to the airport on time, we knew we were not getting on board the plane without our tickets. Our efforts weren’t getting us on the plane. Our preparation and our efforts to drive to the airport on time only revealed our confidence that our tickets were sure to get us on the plane. And the Good News about it was that our tickets were provided for us for free! My dear friends, it is simply, yet profoundly the same thing when it comes to our faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.
When the apostle Paul speaks of how God made us right with Himself, apart from anything we did, he says in Romans 3:24, we were, “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24 NKJV. When did He do it Paul? Paul quickly responds in Romans 5:8, “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NKJV And just in case we still weren’t clear on what this whole Abraham and Isaac thing was all about, he says in Romans 8:33 & 34, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all… It is God who justifies.” Romans 8: 33 & 34 NKJV It was through the substitutionary sacrifice provided by God through Christ that we have been accepted, forgiven and saved by grace through faith. Holiness, obedience and good works is just the Spirit empowered fruit that results from continued faith in this one central truth.
Fathers, this is what needs to burn in our souls as we disciple our children! Every opportunity that you have, or create, to encourage them in obedience to God, you must log it in their minds that it is only a response of love and gratitude to the deep love that God has for us in providing us acceptance with Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus!
You see, making disciples, in principle, didn’t just start in the New Testament. From the beginning, disciple making always begins at home, because parents are the primary disciplers of their children. Churches, schools, teachers and pastors are merely supplemental to the discipleship taking place at home.
This is why, specifically as fathers, we disciple our children into followers of Jesus, when we worship with them, model faithful submission until it’s their own and continually establish in their mind a deep trust that God provided a Substitute. This is the experience that God wanted multiplied many times over from generation to generation. This is why, after providing the ram for the sacrifice, He then repeats the promise of the covenant to Abraham, with special emphasis on abundantly multiplying his descendants through Isaac so that all the nations of the earth would be blessed, ultimately through redemption in Christ. However, if you are not a parent, according to Jesus, you still have the exact same calling; to be fruitful and multiply through the multiplication of disciples through the relationships you have in the spaces where you do life.
So today, the call of God is not only to fathers, but to all of you. Yes, God spared Abraham’s son Isaac, yet He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for you! Yet, just as surely as my son woke up from the MRI and is now running around like nothing happen, so also Jesus rose from the dead on the decisive moment of the third day, victorious over death, Satan and the multitude of your sins! Why? Because on the mount of the LORD it was provided! Just a stones throw away from Mt. Moriah, God provided atonement for all your sins on Mt. Calvary! Because God doesn’t demand sacrifice, like the other pagan gods, but provides sacrifice through the grace of His Son!
Follower of Jesus, Husband, Father and Associate Pastor for Younger Generations at Vienna SDA Church