My husband and I haven’t lived in Maryland for over five years, so it was nice to travel back for a women’s conference a few days ago. As we traversed the familiar terrain, memories from long ago filled my mind. A particular street reminded me of my long commutes to work. An old building triggered thoughts of early dates with my husband. The restaurants reminded me how much I missed the crab cake. It’s interesting how one sight or experience can remind you of another.
In the same way, the story of Abraham reminds us of Jesus. His call to follow God in faith and believe in the promise of becoming the father of many nations points us to Christ. Here are five surprising ways the story of Abraham leads us to Christ.
Photo Courtesy: Thinkstock
1. Leaving Home
Abraham was called by God to leave his familiar surroundings and go to a land God would show him. Abraham’s obedience would pave the way for generations to come because he was willing to trust God with the unfamiliar and follow Him.
“Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” -Genesis 12:1-4 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/Jake Givens
Jesus Was Called to Leave Heaven
In the same way, Jesus was called to leave heaven and come to earth. His obedience too would grant those following Him the opportunity to be blessed. Jesus left the familiarity of heaven to come to earth. He forfeits his equality with God the Father to take on human form benefiting all those who would place their trust in Him.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:5-11 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Thinkstock
As previously mentioned, both Abraham and Jesus are vessels through which God chose to bless those to follow.
Abraham is the father of faith, a faith that enables us to know God. God promises Abraham:
I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. - Genesis 12:3 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/Aaron Burden
We Are Blessed Through Jesus
Similarly, we are blessed through Jesus. There is no way for us to know God except through Christ. John 14:6-7 says:
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. - John 14:6-7 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
God confirms His promise to Abraham, to make him the father of many nations, by the covenant of circumcision. This removal of flesh would represent that no trust should be placed in the flesh but God.
And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.” - Genesis 17:9-10 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Thinkstock
Jesus Presents a Covenant
Jesus also presents a covenant. However, His is not circumcision of the flesh but that of the heart. His covenant removes sin from our hearts and seals the promise of eternal life for our souls.
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. - Colossians 2:11-14 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/ David Kennedy
After many years and in old age, Abraham saw the first fruits of God’s promise through the birth of his son, Isaac, however; God called Abraham to an act of obedience that would test his faith like nothing else. Abraham is told to sacrifice his son—the son promised to him, for whom he waited and believed.
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take 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 22:1-2 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/Julian Villella
Abraham Takes His Son Away
With no further explanation from God or question from Abraham, Abraham takes his son away to sacrifice him.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. - Genesis 22:9-10 ESV
Like Christ on the cross, Isaac trusted his father in complete obedience. This sacrifice would reflect the sacrifice God would make of his one and only Son Jesus Christ.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16 ESV
When it seemed all hope was lost, and Abraham would lose his beloved son, Isaac, the Lord provided miraculously.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided. -“Genesis 22:11-14 ESV
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/Matthew Meijer
God Also Provided a Sacrifice for Us
As God provided a sacrifice for Abraham, He also provided a sacrifice for us. Unlike Abraham, however, His Son would not be spared. Jesus Christ was the sacrificial lamb to atone for our sin. Yet again, God provided. Jesus rose and overcame death. When all hope seemed gone, God made a way.
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. - John 3:35-36 ESV
The life of Abraham shows God’s faithfulness to keep His promises, the sacrificial love He has for us, and the eternal life He offers those who place their faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash
Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.
Originally published Tuesday, 26 June 2018.