Genesis 22:13-24: The substitute

“13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’ 19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.20 Some time later Abraham was told, ‘Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.’ 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maakah.”


‘’He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son’’ (13b).

At the heart of the Bible story we encounter the vital doctrine of ‘substitutionary atonement.’ It says, not simply that Jesus died, but that He died ‘’instead of’’ all of us. It was foreshadowed way back in this story of God providing a ‘’ram’’ to die in Isaac’s place. This ram died as a substitute, it is believed, in the same place where Jesus would die centuries later. A gospel song puts it like this:

‘I should have been crucified; I should have suffered and died.

I should have hung on the cross in disgrace,

But Jesus, God’s Son, took my place.’