“But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven….”
Isaac was the son of the promise. Abraham had waited long for Isaac. But then God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It is a harsh lesson, a harsh reminder. Even though Isaac is a gift, the wages of sin remains death. And Abraham sees the creeping death of old age advancing in his body; he’s lived and fought and killed. Abraham knows death, and He knows that God is right to demand death. Even Isaac’s death.
So Abraham goes. He knows that there needs to be death on account of sin, but Abraham also trusts God. He tells his servants that both he and Isaac will return. And Abraham and Isaac go to the mount, and they build the altar. Isaac knows something is off – there is no lamb. God will provide the lamb, just as God had provided Isaac.
And then there is Isaac, bound on the altar. Abraham, with his knife raised. The wages of sin is death. Death. Death is coming. But then Christ Jesus speaks – for He is the Angel of the LORD – and Jesus puts an end to Isaac’s death. Isaac will not die, for another will go in his place. This day it was a ram.
But Christ Jesus is not content to rescue just Isaac, nor is He content to rescue him for just a few more decades. Jesus Himself would come to be the true and full atoning sacrifice. He would be the true Lamb of God that takes away the sin and death and shame of the whole world. He would go to the Cross. Jesus values the life of Isaac, the life of Abraham, the life of you and me, more than His own. And thus, Jesus wins for us forgiveness and life. Abraham saw this and rejoiced. Likewise, we see in Christ’s death our own salvation and life, and we rejoice at this wonder too.