The Third Day Series: Part 3 – Abraham and Isaac

Typology is the study of types, and what we are doing is studying the Old Testament types that point to Jesus and His third day resurrection. The author of Hebrews tells us that the account of Abraham, when he was asked to kill Isaac, is a type of the resurrection.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. Hebrews 11: 17 – 19

The author of Hebrews points out what many overlook when pondering God’s command to kill Isaac. Prior to that command, prior to God asking Abraham to slay the son of promise, God had told Abraham that through Isaac his descendants would be named. This promise came when Abraham was concerned about the enmity between Hagar and Sarah.

Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Therefore she said to Abraham, “Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.” The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. Genesis 21: 9 – 12

This promise was given to Abraham in advance of the command to kill Isaac. Therefore, when God asked Abraham to kill Isaac, Abraham was confronted with a divinely ordained paradox. How could God ask him to kill Isaac prior to Isaac bearing children? Abraham determined, as we learn from Hebrews, that God could raise Isaac from the dead. Is there really any other solution to the paradox? If indeed God allowed Abraham to kill Isaac, then God would have to raise Isaac from the dead in order for him to have children. So this is a foreshadow of the resurrection from the dead.

But what about a three day interval? Hebrews speaks of Abraham and Isaac as a type of the resurrection of Christ, but not as a type of the third day resurrection. To understand where the three day interval comes into play, we must go to the text in Genesis and look at the details in more depth.

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Genesis 22: 1 – 5

The text says that Abraham departed in the morning to the place where he would kill Isaac, and on the third day arrived at the destination. To make sense of this, we must understand that in the faithful mind of Abraham, he had determined to kill his son upon the command from God. So as far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was dead. In fact, Isaac was dead to Abraham, so to speak, during the entire three day journey to Moriah. But on the third day, when they ascended the mountain, when Abraham was prevented from killing Isaac by the cry of the angel, when the plan of God was revealed and Abraham learned Isaac was not to die, at that moment on the third day Isaac was figuratively resurrected in the mind of Abraham. Abraham at that moment knew his son would remain alive and a literal resurrection was not needed, although in his heart he was prepared for God to do such a thing.

It is in this way, then, that the story of the binding of Isaac points ahead to the Messiah and His own binding upon a cross, and subsequent resurrection – on the third day.

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