Summary: “God 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”.”
The best introduction to any book of all the books ever written in the world are found in the simple words “In the beginning God”. Everything begins with God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. God created everything that man would ever need before He created man. He crowned him with honour and glory and gave him authority and dominion over the earth. When man rebelled against God he lost his glory and his authority and Satan became the ruler of this world. The only way for man to regain his authority was for someone to die as payment for sin “for the wages of sin is death”. Since God had given authority to man on earth only a man could pay the penalty for sin but in their sinful state no man qualified to pay the price. God therefore had to become a man to pay the penalty for sin and His sacrifice restored our authority and dominion and showed us the immense blessings of a sacrificial life.
Step One: The Old Covenant
a) The Law
The sacrificial life is only possible because of the grace of God that is made available to us under the New covenant. Under the Old Covenant, God’s people were given the Law on Mount Sinai. The Law was holy and perfect but it required that should keep it. This was impossible for sinful man. The purpose of the Law was to reveal sin and man’s need for a Saviour.
b) The sacrifice of animals
All of us have inherited Adams sinful nature for in Adam “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. (Rom 3:23) “The Law is the ministry of death carved in letters on stone” (2 Cor. 3:7) confirming that we all deserve to die “For the wages of sin is death”. (Rom 6:23) God instituted the sacrifice of animals, the shedding of innocent blood, to deal with sin.
c) The covering of sin
The animal to be sacrificed was without blemish and the person who had sinned would lay his hands on the animal and the priest would pray and the sin of the person would supernaturally be transferred to the animal that would then be offered as a sacrifice.
The animal sacrifice was completely burnt to signify the fire of God’s judgement on sin. It was also an indication that the judgement of God was far greater than the sacrifice. This is the reason why the sacrifice had to be offered over and over again. In the case of the sacrifice of Christ He endured the full judgement of God and was not consumed till He cried out “it is finished”. This is an indication that the sacrifice of Christ was far greater than the judgement of God and therefore did not need to be ever repeated again.
Christ has paid the full price for the forgiveness of sin. It is a price we could never pay but is made available to us by grace. Our part is to accept what God has made available by faith when we put our trust in Christ.
Step Two: The New Covenant
a) A new nature
The New Covenant succeeded where the Old Covenant failed because the new relied on Christ whereas the old relied on man. Christ fulfilled the Law. He was tempted in all ways as we are yet did not sin. Under the New Covenant, Christ is our sacrifice. He took our sin and became sin to pay the penalty for sin. When we identify with Christ we share in His sacrifice and receive a new nature.
b) A new identity
Our new nature gives us a new identity as God’s children. Jesus Christ became the Son of man that we might become sons of God. When Christ on the cross was separated from His Father because He was made sin He cried out saying “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34) For the first time He referred to His Father as God so that we might call Him Father. As our Father, we can depend on Him and trust Him to fulfil His promises.
c) A new direction in life
Christ does not only give us a new nature and a new identity, He also gives us a new direction to follow. As the righteousness of God in Christ our lives should conform to the Word of God.
Abraham, the father of all who believe, believed and trusted God. He obeyed when told to offer up his son as a burnt offering because he believed the promise of God to “bless him and multiply his offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore”. Abraham saw the sacrifice of Isaac as worship and was convinced that the two of them would return. (Gen 22:5) When Isaac asked his father where the lamb for the burnt offering was his reply was, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering”. (Gen 22:8) God provided a substitute for Isaac, a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. But in the case of His Son Jesus Christ there was no possibility of a substitute. He was the Lamb of God with a crown of thorns on His head who was crucified to pay the penalty for sin.