Foreshadows of Christ and Calvary: A Typical Place—Moriah (Genesis 22)

While Psalm 22 uniquely records the language of the soul of the Lord Jesus on the cross, Genesis 22 uniquely gives us a glimpse of Calvary from the perspective of the Father. Verse two not only contains the first mention of “love” in the Bible (a father’s love for a son), but the order in the Hebrew literally reads, “Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac” – the delight of Abraham’s heart. The crescendo grows with each statement and reminds us of the wonder of Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (KJV).

Genesis 22 is one of the clearest and most comprehensive types in the Old Testament. The sight of Golgotha is plain. First, the wood is laid upon Isaac (v6) before Isaac is bound and laid on the wood (v9). Such language reminds us of the One who went forth bearing His cross before coming to the place called Golgotha, where they crucified Him. But there is a glimpse of Gethsemane as well as Golgotha. The command of Abraham to his servants (v5) reminds us of the language of the Lord Jesus to His disciples in the garden, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” After taking Peter, James and John, “he went a little further, and fell on his face” in communion with His Father (Mat 26:36,39 KJV). As Abraham and Isaac went on together, they enjoyed communion one with the other, but no man could join Christ in communion with His Father in that dark hour (Mat 26:39). There is also a hint of Gabbatha, for Isaac was “bound” (v9). We marvel to see One whose business was liberty (Isa 61:1) being bound in the garden, bound before Annas and Caiaphas, before being carried away and delivered to Pilate (Mar 15:1). Yet further, there is a reference to the garden tomb and resurrection of Christ. Being the great spiritual accountant he was, Abraham had stated his firm belief that he and Isaac would “come again” to the young men (v5). This was no deceit or falsehood. Abraham knew that the covenant promises of a God who could not lie were bound up in this child. If he was to be offered as a burnt offering, then God must raise him from the dead – “from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb 11:19).

The Pathway to Moriah (vv3-6)

Notice that Abraham “saw the place afar off” (v4). In divine eternal counsels, before the world began, the place and time of Calvary were known to Father and Son (1Pe 1:20). Even 1500 years before Calvary, God stated the month, day and time of the crucifixion of Christ. The lamb was to be slain on the fourteenth day of Nisan “between the evenings” (i.e., 3pm-6pm), exactly the time the Lord Jesus laid down His life (cf. Exo 12:6; Mar 15:34). Three times it is stated they “went together.” And though the type fails in the sense that Isaac did not know what was in the mind of his father, we can be sure that Father and Son went together (fellowship) to Calvary in fulfilment of divine purpose (Joh 16:32).

The Perplexity of a Son (vv7-8)

Both Isaac and Abraham refer to “the lamb” (note the definite article). There is only ever one Lamb before God (cf. Exo 12:6). Abraham’s glorious statement of v8 is capable of three translations, and all are true. The Hebrew can be rendered “God Himself will provide the lamb,” and so the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. But secondly, “God will provide for Himself the lamb” – first and foremost Christ died for the glory, and to declare the righteousness, of God. Finally, “God will provide Himself as the lamb.” Abraham’s words clearly awaited the fulfilment, not of Moriah, but of the words of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (Joh 1:29).

The Place of Sacrifice (v9) – Moriah

Some commentators suggest the meaning of Moriah is “Jehovah manifested,” and certainly the character of God was manifested in all its glory at Calvary. Remarkably, Scripture only mentions Moriah on one other occasion and pinpoints its location in Jerusalem: “Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father … in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite” (2Ch 3:1 KJV). Thus, Moriah was in the very vicinity of Calvary and is associated with propitiation (read 2 Samuel 24:25 for the connection, “so the Lord was intreated”) and substitution, for a ram will be offered in the stead of Isaac (v13).

The Preservation of Isaac (vv10-12)

While Abraham stretched forth his hand to slay his son, the angel of the Lord called his name twice from heaven to stay the knife. It was not so at Calvary. There was no cry from heaven to call a halt to proceedings during those dark hours – only a double cry that ascended from earth, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46). Through the entire process, Isaac is silent and submissive (cf. Isa 53:7).

The Provision of a Ram (vv13-14)

The God who sees, and with divine foresight provides for the need (Jehovah-Jireh), prepares a ram caught in the thicket by his horns (the seat of his strength). Any ram caught by its fleece would be blemished and thus not a fit type of the Lamb without blemish and without spot. Notice that the type of Christ is now the ram which will be offered “in the stead” (Heb. tahat) of Isaac. Tahat is normally translated “under” in the Old Testament. Thus, the ram was to be offered underneath Isaac, almost as if he were still on the altar! We are reminded of the words of Paul, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live” (Gal 2:20). Normally, the unquenchable fire of the altar consumed every offering (cf. Pro 30:16). Yet at Calvary, the Saviour consumed and satisfied the fire.

The Prospect of a Bride (v23)

While in Genesis 22 Isaac is on the altar, and received in figure from the dead, he is not seen again until Genesis 24. In that chapter, a bride is sought and found, her heart being won to a man she’s never seen. She is guided through the desert by an unnamed servant and safely placed in the arms of Isaac. And thus, we await the fulfilment of His glorious promise: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (Joh 14:3 KJV).