Genesis 22:1-18 – Our Old Testament reading - and the text for Ash Wednesday - is a familiar one; the testing of Abraham. When we New Testament believers hear this account, it reminds us of our Savior Jesus. Jehovahjirech – The Lord Will Provide – supplies a substitute for Isaac. The ram is caught by its horns, and thus remains unblemished, the perfect sacrifice. Likewise, the Lord offered up His Son Jesus on the cross to be our substitute. He was the perfect sacrifice, unblemished by the taint of sins.
Abraham’s entire life had been a journey of faith. Trials were his constant companion on the voyage. This patriarch of faith was counting on God’s promises to sustain him throughout his pilgrimage. At God’s call, Abraham left behind his life in Mesopotamia and set out toward an unknown land. Throughout that expedition, he had nothing but the word of God to anchor his life. More than once his faith was tested through the refiner’s fire.
The Binding of Isaac is an epic story of the Old Testament which reminds us that Jesus has become our surrogate, and our replacement; namely that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished and penalized in the place of sinners, thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly and freely forgive sin. This event also teaches the resurrection. Abraham believed he and his son Isaac would safely return as he speaks to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” Abraham completely believed the Lord would provide; a sacrifice and a new life for himself and Isaac.
Today is a solemn day. It is the beginning of the season of Lent where we experience that great exchange; God’s mercy and forgiveness purchased at the cost of His own Son; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carslsfeld, copyright © WELS permission granted for congregational and personal use
 Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House