Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his
son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.
- Genesis 22:9 -
Genesis 22:1-9 is known as the Akedah in Jewish liturgy. It is known as the binding of Isaac, although most emphasis is placed on Abraham, who obeyed God’s command to offer up his son.
The altar, upon which Isaac was laid, was a place of sacrifice. The word in Hebrew for altar, miz-bay-akh, also denotes the item sacrificed. The altar was a place of slaughter, a killing place. There was no secret about the altar. All knew the purpose of the altar.
God gave laws concerning the construction of altars. No iron tools were to be used in altar construction (Deut. 27:5). Measurements were precise (Ezek. 43:13). Scripture tells us that altars were made of stone (Josh 8:31), earth (Ex. 20:24), wood and bronze (Ex. 38:1), and wood with gold (Ex. 30:1-6). Some altars were named, such as
El-Eloheh-Yisrael – the God of Israel (Gen. 33:20);
Adonai Nissi – the LORD is my banner (Ex. 17:15);
Adonai Shalom – the LORD is peace (Judges 6:24).
There were forbidden altars that were used (Ex. 34:13). Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all built altars.
Altars were built for worship (Gen. 8:20). God revealed Himself at an altar: He built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when
he fled from his brother. (Gen. 35:7)
Calvary was the slaughter place of Yeshua Jesus. The Brazen altar in the Tabernacle foreshadowed Calvary. The altar, ha miz-bay-akh, was sanctified by the blood of the sacrifice. Blood had to be applied to the altar to initially sanctify it. In turn, it sanctified the gift that was laid upon it. Messiah’s body was laid upon the altar; it was laid upon the Cross. As we present our body a living and holy sacrifice unto God, our gift is sanctified as we offer up ourselves through the Blood of Yeshua Jesus, our Messiah. Our will is to be dead on the Cross, yet we live.
Approaching the altar can be a perplexing challenge. Hebrews 12:2 tells us:
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and
has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Yeshua endured the cross, for the joy set before Him. Yet what about Isaac? Scripture does not tell us directly how Isaac endured his father offering him up. Or does it?
Scripture does tell us something about Isaac but we must look at his name in Hebrew to understand. Isaac’s name in Hebrew is Yizkhakh, and it means "laughter" or "he laughs." Isaac gives us a lesson as to how to respond when God our Father, places us on an altar. He laughed! Yitzkhakh al ha-miz-bay-akh – he laughs on the altar. Do you have joy when the LORD calls you to get up on the altar? Do you have joy when you have been laid there and it has been a long time and you thirst, and you wonder what in the world that the LORD is doing? Why does He keep you up on that altar for such a long time? You don’t like the suffering, it looks as though everyone else is prospering in body, soul and spirit, yet there you are, alone up on the altar. Although the time was probably not too long for Isaac, it must have seemed like an eternity. Yet Yitzkhakh, he laughs!
I am going to try to be like Isaac on the altar. How I complain and murmur and gossip and hate being upon the altar of the LORD. Yet the only way for holiness unto the LORD is to be achieved is to remain on the altar. The body must go to the altar. The body must become a living sacrifice to God.
Shall we make our journey to the altar together? Shall we surrender fully to Yeshua Jesus? Let’s surrender and remain up there laughing!
Copyright © Barri Cae Mallin.