Taking Types Too Far

01022001-RLW-Genesis-22-1-Abraham-and-Isaac-climbing-Mt-MoriahThe last few Sundays I’ve been preaching on Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, really focusing on the typology between them. Here are the parallels I used. Isaac and Jesus…

  • Were named by God (Gen 17:19 cf. Matt 1:21).
  • Were loved by their father (Gen 22:2 cf. Matt 3:17).
  • Were only begotten sons (Gen 22:2; John 1:18, 3:16; 1 John 4:9 cf. Heb 11:17).
  • Were offered up in Jerusalem (Gen 22:2; 2 Chr 3:1).
  • Were raised on the third day (Gen 22:4 cf. Heb 11:17-19).
  • Carried the wood for their sacrifices (Gen 22:6a cf. John 19:17).
  • Were placed on the wood for their sacrifices (Gen 22:9).
  • Silently laid down their lives (Gen 22:9-10; Isa 53:7; John 10:11, 15, 17-18, 15:13; 1 John 3:16; Matt 26:52-53; 1 Pet 2:23).
  • Met on Mount Moriah (Gen 22:11-12).
  • Were burnt offerings (Gen 22:2; Lev 1:9, 13, 17 cf. Eph 5:2; Lev 6:11 cf. Heb 13:12; Lev 1:4 cf. Isa 53:6).

One of the difficulties with types is making sure they aren’t taken too far. Below are the parallels I chose not to use because I thought they were too much of a stretch…

1. Jesus and Isaac were “offered” or “lifted” up.

Genesis 22:2 [God] said, “Take your son and offer him as a burnt offering.”

The Hebrew word for “offer” is ‘alah, but it doesn’t mean “give” or “present” as we’d expect. It means, “to go up, ascend, climb, be taken or lifted up.” The idea is when you sacrificed something you “lifted” it up to God.

Of the 889 times `alah occurs in the Old Testament, 676 times it’s translated as “up”. When Abraham was commanded to “offer” Isaac, he was basically 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.

2. Jesus and Isaac were accompanied by two men on their way to be sacrificed.

Genesis 22:3 Abraham took two of his young men with him.

Like Jesus was accompanied by two men when He was crucified, so too was Isaac accompanied by two men on his way to be sacrificed. But in Genesis 22:5 Abraham said to the servants, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

The two men were only able to go so far: they were not able to witness what took place between Abraham and Isaac. Similarly, when Jesus was sacrificed, nobody was able to see exactly what took place between Him and the Father. Three hours of darkness (Matt 27:45) helped conceal the divine transaction when our sins were placed on Christ.

3. Jesus and the ram had a “crown of thorns” around their heads.

Genesis 22:13 There behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham took the ram, and [sacrificed it] instead of his son.

The words “instead of his son” are one of the clearest pictures of substitutionary atonement in the Old Testament. The ram that died in Isaac’s place had a crown of thorns around its head, like Jesus – who died in our place – had a crown of thorns around His head (Matt 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2).

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2 thoughts on “Taking Types Too Far

  1. Hi Pastor Scott,

    This article was very insightful. I’ve been keeping up with almost all of your material and it’s been very helpful.
    Recently I had the privilege of teaching our youth Gen 25 which provoked reading the surrounding scriptures and I found Isaac one of the most captivating characters. I also, found these pararells to be a stretch, but because various commentaries announced them as fact, I doubted myself. I find myself doing that often when I interpret something differently then perhaps pj or whatever book. Your viewpoint helped me confirm the need to examen abstract concepts.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Josh,
      Glad to hear from you.

      Yes, I know it can be tough when there are conflicting thoughts, not just when it comes to types but interpretations of verses in general.

      I’ve learned to put greater confidence in some commentaries and some commentators than others. I’ve also learned to be more patient and prayerful; patient in terms of not embracing something simply because I read it, but waiting to see it carries out following further study.

      Hope you and your family are doing well!

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