Publisher: Charis Publishing

A Father Offers His Son: The True and Greater Sacrifice Revealed Through Abraham and Isaac

Have you ever wondered why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son in Genesis 22?

The Angel stopped Abraham showing God did not intend for him to kill Isaac, but what did God desire? God wanted to test Abraham, and readers will discover the account primarily reveals:

  • In human terms what God would do with His Son two thousand years later
  • The many ways Abraham and Isaac are a picture of God and His Son
  • The tremendous love of God shown through Christ’s sacrifice

Genesis 22 is not primarily about Abraham and Isaac. God and Jesus are the true and greater Father and Son shining forth in the account. Abraham did not spare his son but was willing to deliver him up for God. Likewise, God “did not spare His Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32).

Learn the remarkable parallels between God and Abraham, and Jesus and Isaac. With thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter, the book is perfect for personal use or small groups.

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Chapter 2: Genesis 22:2-3—Isaac and Jesus Were…Part I

Isaac and Jesus Were Only Begotten Sons

Genesis 22:2—“Then He said, ‘Take now 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.’”

The typology between Isaac and Jesus is immediately established strongly. The language used regarding Abraham and Isaac is almost identical to the language used in the New Testament regarding God the Father and His Son. In Genesis 22:2 God said to Abraham, “your son, your only son.” He repeated these words two more times:

  • Genesis 22:12—“And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’”
  • Genesis 22:16—[The Angel of the Lord] said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son.”

God does not waste words in Scripture. When He is repetitive, it is for a reason. God does not use highlighting, italics, underlining, or bold for emphasis, instead He uses repetition. God wants us to recognize Isaac was, “[Abraham’s] son, [his] only son.” Abraham had another son, Ishmael, so how can God refer to Isaac as Abraham’s “only” son? The word “only” does not mean “single.” The Old Testament has three Hebrew words for “only.” Here are two of them:

  1. Genesis 6:5—“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only [raq] evil continually.”[i]
  2. Genesis 7:23—“So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only [‘ak] Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.”[ii]

The Old Testament is primarily written in Hebrew (with small portions written in Aramaic), and the word for “only” in Genesis 22:2 is yachiyd, which means “unique.”[iii] It is referring to Isaac being Abraham’s special, one-of-a-kind son. The same word translates as “precious” elsewhere in Scripture:

  • Psalm 22:20—“Deliver Me from the sword, My precious [yachiyd] life from the power of the dog.”
  • Psalm 35:17—“Rescue me from their destructions, My precious [yachiyd] life from the lions.”

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) says yachiyd means, “only begotten son.”[iv] This makes Isaac look like Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. “Begotten” does not mean “created.” The writers of the Nicene Creed wanted to make sure nobody misunderstood the word, so they said:

I believe… in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made.[v]

The creed teaches Jesus is eternal, and as the Son of God, is equal with God. If begotten does not mean created, what does it mean? The Greek word for “only begotten” is monogenes, and it means, “single of its kind.”[vi] Again, it means Jesus is God’s unique Son. This separates Him from believers who are sons and daughters of God by adoption, and angels who are also called “sons of God” (Genesis 6:4, Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7 cf. Hebrews 1:5-14). Monogenes only occurs nine times in the Scripture:

  • Three times Luke used the word to describe parents who lost an “only” (monogenes) child (Luke 7:12, 8:42, and 9:38).
  • Five times John used the word to refer to Jesus as “the only begotten (monogenes) Son” (John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9).

The other use identifies the other individual in Scripture given the same title as Jesus. Hebrews 11:17 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac… His only begotten (monogenes) son.” God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, instead of Ishmael, because He wanted him to sacrifice his only begotten, special, unique, precious son. This looked forward to God sacrificing His only begotten, special, unique, precious Son.

Isaac and Jesus Were Named by God

Genesis 22:2—“Then He said, ‘Take now 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.’”

The mention of Isaac’s name draws a connection to Jesus. Isaac also had the rare distinction of being named by God, instead of being named by earthly parents. Notice the parallelism between these verses:

  • Genesis 17:19—“Sarah… shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.”
  • Matthew 1:21—“[Mary] shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”

Isaac and Jesus Were Loved by Their Fathers

Genesis 22:2—“Then He said, ‘Take now 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.’”

The “Principle of First Mention” encourages Bible scholars to take notice of the first time words are used in the Old and New Testaments, and even in books of the Bible.[vii] The idea is God reveals the truest meaning of a word when it first occurs. Genesis 22:2 contains the first use of the word “love.” Considering the different relationships involving love—for example, mother to a son, daughter to a father, sister to a brother, husband to a wife—makes it more significant that the first time the word “love” is in the Old Testament, it describes the love a father feels toward his son.

The first time the word “love” occurs in the New Testament also describes a Father’s love for a Son. God’s words at Jesus’ baptism echo His words to Abraham: “This is My Son, whom I love” (Matthew 3:17 NIV). The parallel verses in Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22 are also the first time the word love is used in each gospel. As Isaac was the object of his father’s love toward the beginning of the Old Testament, so too was Jesus the object of His Father’s love toward the beginning of the New Testament.

Isaac and Jesus Reveal God’s Love for the World

God stated His love for Jesus at the beginning of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; however, a change takes place in John’s gospel. The first time John uses the word love he describes God’s love, not for His Son, but for the world—a love so great that God was willing to sacrifice the Son He stated His love for in the previous three gospels: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Abraham loved his son but was willing to give him up because of his love for God. Similarly, God the Father loved His Son, but He was willing to give Him up because of His love for us.

Isaac and Jesus Were “Offered” Up

Genesis 22:2—“Then He said, ‘Take now 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.’”

The Hebrew word for “offered” is alah, but it does not mean “given” or “presented” as we would expect. It means, “to go up, ascend, climb, be taken or lifted up.”[viii] The idea is that when something is sacrificed, it is “lifted” up to God. Of the eight hundred eighty-nine times alah occurs in the Old Testament, six hundred seventy-six times it translates as “up.” When Abraham was commanded to “offer” Isaac, he was essentially commanded to “lift him up.”

Jesus spoke of His sacrifice this way:

  • John 3:14—“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”
  • John 12:32—“If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Isaac and Jesus Were Burnt Offerings

Genesis 22:2—“Then He said, ‘Take now 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.’”

God did not just ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. He specifically said to “Offer him as a burnt offering.” Again, God is repetitive to make sure we do not miss this. The words “burnt offering” occur six times between verses two and thirteen. Almost every other verse reminds us Isaac was to be a burnt offering.

Leviticus 1 describes burnt offerings. They were voluntary acts of worship to express devotion to God, or they could serve as an atonement for unintentional sins. The meat, bones, and organs were completely burnt, and this was God’s portion. The animal’s hide was given to the Levites, who could later sell it to earn money for themselves.

Burnt offerings make a fitting picture of Christ. Three times they are called “an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord” (Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17). Paul applies this imagery to Jesus: “[Christ] has given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). The key verse is Leviticus 1:4. Let’s look at it, piece-by-piece:

  • Leviticus 1:4a says “[The priest] shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering.” This communicated the transmission of the sin to the sacrifice, and it looked to the way our sins are transmitted to Christ. Isaiah 53:6 says “the Lord has laid on [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” In many pictures of the account, Abraham has the knife in one hand, and his other hand is on Isaac’s head to maintain the imagery.
  • Leviticus 1:4b says the burnt offering “will be accepted on [the sinner’s] behalf” looking to the way Christ died in our place.
  • Leviticus 1:4c says the burnt offering will “make atonement for [the sinner]” looking to the way Jesus made atonement for our sins.

Leviticus 6:11 says the priest shall, “carry the ashes [of the burnt offering] outside the camp.” Hebrews 13:12-13 uses the same language discussing Christ’s sacrifice: “He… suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” Leviticus 1:9 and 13 say “the priest shall burn all on the altar.” Burnt offerings were completely consumed, and Jesus is the true and greater Burnt Offering who was willing to be completely consumed for our sins.

Isaac and Jesus Were Sacrificed In Jerusalem

Genesis 22:2—“Then He said, ‘Take now 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.’”

Jerusalem has a rich history. It is mentioned six hundred forty-three times in Scripture, which is much more than any other location. This does not even include the times it is called Zion, the City of David, or referenced indirectly. Babylon is second, occurring only two-hundred sixty-two times. Jerusalem is first mentioned in Genesis 14:18 when Melchizedek, the “King of Salem,” shows up in Scripture. “Salem” means “peace,” hence Jerusalem being “The City of Peace.”

Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God told them He would choose a place for Himself: “You shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go” (Deuteronomy 12:5; also 11, 14, 18, 21, and 26).

The Canaanites controlled the Promised Land when Israel entered it. Since Jebusites inhabited Jerusalem, it was called “Jebus” (Joshua 10:1, 3, 5, 23). Joshua 15:63 says: “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Israel could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.”

The Jebusites remained in Jerusalem until David conquered it, drove out the Jebusites, and made it his capital. Second Samuel 5:6-7, 9 records:

[David] and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).
Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward.

While David lived in the palace, he decided God should have His own “house.” Second Samuel 7:1-2 records:

Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.”

Although David’s desire was good, God told him his son, Solomon, would build the temple instead (2 Samuel 7:13). Second Chronicles 3:1 says:

Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of [Araunah] the Jebusite.[ix]

Genesis 22:1 says, “God tested Abraham,” and the test was to see whether Abraham would sacrifice his son. Abraham could pass this test anywhere, but God said to “offer [Isaac]… on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Consider the following:

  • God had Abraham travel fifty miles over three days from Beersheba to Jerusalem.
  • God showed Abraham the specific location to sacrifice Isaac.
  • The account serves as a picture of what God would later do with His Son.

More than likely the location God revealed to Abraham was Calvary or Golgotha. “Moriah” means, “chosen by Jehovah,”[x] and God chose this location for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because two thousand years later God would sacrifice His Son on this same mountain:

The decision of God to establish his temple at Moriah in Jerusalem has affected all history; for this mountain became the focus of the Holy City, where His Son was crucified. And it will continue to affect history; for from this ‘city He loves,’ He will someday rule the nations of the earth.[xi]

Isaac and Jesus Were Accompanied by Two Men on Their Way to Be Sacrificed

Genesis 22:3, 5—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 the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him… And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

Isaac was accompanied by two men on his way to being sacrificed like Jesus was accompanied by two men when He was sacrificed. Matthew 27:38 says, “Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.” The two men were not able to witness what took place between Abraham and Isaac. Similarly, when Jesus was sacrificed, nobody could see exactly what took place between God the Father and God the Son. When Jesus was on the cross, Matthew 27:45 says, “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.” The darkness concealed the divine transaction when our sins were placed on Christ.


  1. List the parallels between Isaac and Jesus found in Genesis 22:2–3.
  2. Can you think of any other similarities in these verses between Isaac and Jesus and Abraham and God? If so, what are they?
  3. How does Jesus’ sacrifice reveal God’s love?


[i] “H7535 – raq – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 11 Jul, 2018.

[ii] “H389 – ‘ak – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 11 Jul, 2018.

[iii] “H3173 – yachiyd – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 6 Jul, 2018.

[iv] The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWoT) R. Laird Harris, editor, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., associate editor, Bruce K. Waltke, associate editor. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980. Deals with Hebrew/Aramaic words in the Old Testament that have a theological significance.

[v] Along with the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed is the most universally accepted statement of the Christian Faith. The Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicea to try to unify the Christian church with one doctrine, especially regarding the Trinity and deity of Jesus. The Nicene Creed was adopted at the council in A.D. 325. For further information, visit:

[vi] “G3439 – monogenēs – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 6 Jul, 2018.

[viii] “H5927 – `alah – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 11 Jul, 2018.

[ix] The parallel account in Chronicles says “Ornan,” which is a variant of “Araunah.”

[x] “H4179 – Mowriyah – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 6 Jul, 2018.

[xi] Barker, Kenneth L. and John R. Kohlenberger III. Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Abridged Edition Old Testament. Zondervan, 2017.

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