The story of Abraham taking his son Isaac up to the mountain Moriah to be sacrificed has always been a difficult one for me to read. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? And then why does God instead provide a different sacrifice to take Isaac’s place?
Even Isaac himself is confused by the ordeal. He sees the firewood but asks his dad, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). Abraham tells his son that God will provide the lamb.
And yet, look at Genesis 22:13. Did you catch the type of animal God provides for the sacrifice? It’s a ram, not a lamb. The Israelites who read this story were probably left with the same question we are: Where is the lamb? In Exodus 11-13, the Israelites got their first answer. While they were enslaved in Egypt, God instructed them to sacrifice a lamb and spread the blood on their door posts. This sacrificial lamb would save their firstborn sons from the final plague that passed over Egypt. This sacrificial lamb mirrors the events with Abraham and Isaac—God provided an alternative sacrifice to save a firstborn son.
Later, God the Father would again send a sacrifice to save, but this time it was His only Son, Jesus. Jesus is fully God and fully human, and He is the lamb God the Father provided as a sacrifice, except His sacrifice took the place of more than just a firstborn son. Jesus’s loving sacrifice on the cross took the place of all of us.
And when Jesus rose again from the grave, He defeated sin and death so that all who trust in Him will one day rise with Him. Not only were our sins paid for by His sacrifice, but we also get to participate in God’s kingdom as coheirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17). This is something only the perfect lamb could achieve. And, after years and years, we can look back at Genesis 22:13 and get the answer to our question: Where is the lamb? The Lamb is Jesus. • Naomi Zylstra
• Often, we can understand Bible passages more fully when we look at the Bible as a whole. This is because the entire Bible points to Jesus (John 1:45; 20:31; Acts 10:43), and we can only know God through Jesus (more about this on our “Know Jesus” page). As Christians, when we read the Bible we are reading words written by and about someone we have a personal relationship with. And He helps us grow in our understanding of His Word through the help of the Holy Spirit and fellow Christians. Which Bible passages are difficult for you to read? Who could you ask about this?
John saw Jesus…and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (CSB)