Five: Isaac, a Type of Christ

          I. In his birth Isaac, the son of Abraham the father of the faithful: a promised seed long before he was born, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. His was a strange birth, he was not to be born by the strength of nature, but of Sarah’s dead womb when it was not with her as with other women, insomuch as when the angel foretold it to her she thought it impossible, Gen. 18:12. So Christ the son of Adam commonly so called. The only son of God by nature, who is the Father of all the faithful who are taught to say: Our Father, etc. The only true promised seed long before prophesied of, and expected of believers before his manifestation about four thousand years. Born and incarnate not by the strength of nature, but by the power of the Holy Ghost after an unconceivable manner; so when the angel told his mother Mary of his miraculous manner of birth, she thought it impossible, and said, “How can this be?” Luke 1:34. And in him only the whole spiritual seed of Abraham, all God’s people of Jews and Gentiles were blessed. Psa. 72:17. The nations shall bless him, and be blessed in him. Which prophecy cannot be understood of Solomon; for scarce his own nation was blessed in him, who by his sin lost ten tribes of twelve from his own son; and Psa. 72:5 they shall fear him so long as the sun and moon endure from one generation to another, Psa. 72:11 all Kings shall worship him and serve him: and Psa. 72:17 his name shall be forever: all these are true in Christ only. As Isaac was founder of a mighty state; so Christ of all the Church of God in all nations only blessed in him. As Isaac was his father’s heir; so Christ heir of all things, Isaac had goods only.


          II. In his suffering.

1. Isaac was circumcised the eighth day: so was Christ. Luke 2.


2. Isaac in his infancy was persecuted by Ishmael, Gal. 4:29: so Christ by Herod, Matt. 2.


3. Isaac carried the wood of the burnt offering upon his shoulders even to mount Moriah, Gen. 22:16: so Christ carried the cross on which he was to be nailed, even to Golgotha.


4. Isaac was led away as a lamb to the slaughter: so Christ was led away, Jn. 19:16 to death.


5. Isaac without reply submitted himself to his father even to the death; suffered himself to be bound on the wood, and yields himself a burnt offering unto the Lord: even so Christ without reply was obedient unto his father unto the death, and was content to be bound, not as Isaac for himself alone, but for us and them; and laid down his life a whole burnt offering, and a ransom for many, Mat. 20:28. Thus were both Lamb-like sufferers, both bear their cross both without reply led away, both bound and fastened on the wood, both willingly obedient to the death.


           III.        In his offering,

1. Both sons, only sons, innocent, beloved of their fathers: Abraham did all at God’s commandment, and lifted up his hand: so Christ by the determinate counsel of God was delivered by wicked hands. Abraham offers his son freely: God more freely offers his son out of his bosom.


2. Abraham by God’s commission rose early in the morning to sacrifice his son; and Isaac rose as early to obey his father: so the Jews by God’s permission broke their sleep, and early in the morning proceeded to the condemning of Christ, who is called the Hind of the morning. Psa. 22:1, compassed with dogs that hunted his life; and Christ, another Isaac, after his passion rose early in the morning to fulfill the work of his Father.


3. Neither of them must be offered everywhere or anywhere but both in a mountain, and such a mountain as must typify Christ’s human nature. Mount Moriah must bear the temple built by Solomon, a type of Christ’s body, Jn. 2:19. Mount Calvary must bear the body itself; and these two hills, if they are not one and the same (as Augustine thinks, and it is possible that Golgotha was the skirt of Moriah) yet could they not be far distant, the one being within the gate of the city, and the other not far without, the nearest to the city of all.


4. The father lays the wood first upon both, and then both upon the wood, both must feel the weight of the wood, no small wood to burn a man, a whole burnt offering as Isaac: but the wood which Christ bore was far heavier.

     1. For the greatness of the burden.

     2. For the heavy burdens of our sins, Isa. 53:4, he bore all our diseases. And then both by God’s appointment were bound on the wood, fastened hand and foot, not that either was unwilling, but to retain the manner appointed for sacrifice.


5. Isaac must be offered alone, the servants must stay at the foot of the hill afar off, little knowing the business and sorrow at hand: so Christ must tread the winepress alone, Isa. 63:3, the disciples fear and fly, and little consider the agony of their master.


6.  The father carries in his hand the sword and fire against his own son; the sword signifying the justice of God, the fire his burning wrath against the sins of men: both bent against Christ, both sustained by this Isaac; in whom the justice of God is satisfied, and the flame of his wrath extinct and quenched.


          IV. In his escape and deliverance.

1. The blow is imminent but Abraham must hold his hand, Isaac’s flesh must not be pierced or cut: the soldiers ready to break the legs of Christ (as were the two thieves) must stay their hands; not a bone of him must be broken.


2. Isaac offered, and three days dead in his father’s purpose and mind, yet did not die, but his father received him as from the dead: so Christ offered upon his divinity died not, and his humanity dead in the belly of the earth, after three days he revived, and raised himself again to die no more. So both were delivered from death the third day: in which the apostle plainly makes him a type, Heb. 11:19, from whence he received him as in a type or resemblance, that is, to be a type or resemblance of Christ’s resurrection from death.


3. The ram that was offered for Isaac was caught by the head among the thorns, and hanged in a bush: Christ our sacrifice was hanged on a tree, crowned with thorns, and so hung on the cross to expiate our sins compared to thorns and briers, which would forever have held us, if they had not held him.


          V. In his marriage.

1. Rebekah was fair and beautiful: so the Church is fair in the beauty of Christ, and fair within.


2. She was of his own kindred and flesh, Gen. 24:4: so Christ’s spouse if of the same flesh which he assumed.


3. She was wooed by his father’s servants and brought forward toward Isaac: so the Church is wooed by pastors and preachers, the servants of Christ, and so brought forwards by his friends towards the bridegroom.


4. She resolved to forsake all her friends and comforts to come to Isaac: so the Church forsakes all in affection and actually, being called to enjoy her head and husband Jesus Christ.


5. She decks herself with jewels and trims herself before she comes to Isaac, but covers all with a vail: so the Church prepares herself as a bride for a bridegroom, trims herself with faith and graces as jewels, but covers and vails all with humility, modesty, shamefaced, as not worthy to be seen, much less matched to such a husband.


6. In her coming towards Isaac, Isaac meets her: so the Church coming towards Christ he meets her afar off,

     1. By his grace of election,

     2. By his most entire love and affection,

     3. By most gracious acceptation

     4. In person and incarnation.

     5. In glory and power at the last judgement for her final salvation.


Patterns of Obedience

          I. In the type and truth note a pattern by which to frame our obedience, Phil. 2:5. Let the same mind be in us that was in them.

1. To be humbly obedient unto our father as they.


2. Having never so difficult a commandment. As Abraham rose early to obey God; and Isaac as early to obey his father; and Christ was content early in the morning to be prosecuted to death: so let not us procrastinate, but hasten to our duty, especially to our sacrifices of prayer and praises early in the morning. Psa. 108:2.


3. As Abraham in offering, nor Isaac in obeying consulted not with flesh and blood, acquainted neither Sarah nor the servants, nor consulted with human wisdom to hinder obedience: no more must we in our obedience. So Paul, Gal. 1:16, says of himself that he communicated not with flesh and blood after he had a calling. If flesh and blood will object to anything against obedience, and extoll itself against the knowledge of God, bring it captive into the obedience of Christ, II Cor. 10:5.


4. Obey in suffering, as well as in doing; daily take up our cross (as they both carried the wood of their offering) and not repine nor reply. We must not think that by carrying our cross we can perform the work of our redemption, for to that end it was carried by Christ only; yet we must carry it so far forth as he is a pattern for our imitation, that we may be conformed to the image of Christ, Rom. 8:19.


5. For the measure, do not be hindered by heavy crosses and burdens, they carried heavy loads of wood. We must not love our lives to the death if God calls us thereto. For both of them were obedient unto death, Phil. 2:8. Such a testimony is given of the saints, Rev. 12:11, they loved not their lives unto the death.


To Frame our Obedience requires two Rules

          I. A change and renovation of our crooked and corrupt nature, which is ever rebelling against the law of the mind. Nothing we say is hard to good will: but this good will is not to be found but in such as a regenerate by the Spirit of God, who has made it of an unwilling, a willing will. And until this change is made every commandment is impossible, and an intolerable yoke. Let Christ give the same commandment to the young man, and to the disciples, of leaving all and following him, it is an impossible task to the one, yet in his natural state, but an easy yoke to the other, who with the commandment receives some secret power to draw them to obedience. Let the word command an angry, furious, natural man to forgive his neighbor that wrongs him, and bless him that curses him, and do good for evil, and recompense love for hatred; oh this is an impossible commandment, and flesh and blood cannot possibly do it; and indeed he must be more than flesh and blood that can hear it, he must have a spirit subduing his will unto the will of God. Let God speak (as he did to Abraham) to a man unconverted: offer me up now, not your son, but your sin, your dear lusts; your usury, your revenge, swearing, lying, your Herodias, your Delilah, your darling, your pride; take the knife into your hand and with your own hands kill it, sacrifice it, let out the life blood of it: oh what holding of grudges, gainsaying, rising up against the word, and him by whom God commanded? Every natural man’s sin is his Isaac, his child, his best beloved, his joy and laughter, he cannot spare him, he cannot part with him. Though the Lord is ever in haste and earnest, they are not so hasty as to rise up with Abraham, early in the morning to offer up their sins; a plain evidence that as yet their nature was never changed, but they are in their sins.


          II. In dangerous and difficult, or costly commandments prop up your faith with consideration of God’s power and truth. So did Abraham in this difficult commandment; when he might have considered a thousand strong hindrances, he strengthened his faith by this, Heb. 11:19. He considered that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, whence after a sort he received him. Thus he supported his faith in that word of promise, Rom. 4:20-21. He considered not Sarah’s dead body, but was fully assured that God (whom he believed, who quickened the dead, Rom. 4:17) who had promised, was also able to do it. These two props upheld him, even the full assurance of God’s truth in promises, and power in performing them. In duties of apparent danger, the casting an eye on God’s truth and power will bring them forward, otherwise they never come on. Dan. 3:17, our God is able to deliver us, and he will; but if not, etc. So in the time of danger and deep distress, cast yourself on the might and truth of God, who quickens the dead, who can say to the dead, “Live”, and they shall live. In duties chargeable, if your obedience must cost you some part of the whole of your estate, look on God’s power and goodness. So the Prophet to Amaziah, II Chron. 25:9, what shall we do about the hundred talents? The Lord is able to give you more than this. Objection: But I know not whether he will. Solution: Faith assures itself there is never any loss in obeying God. It knows the way to keep Isaac is to give up Isaac. It has a promise, whoever forsakes house, land, etc. for Christ, shall have a hundred fold.


          II. In both we have a notable type of our resurrection. Isaac was raised the third day, as from the dead: but Christ indeed raised, not as Isaac for himself, but as a head for his body and members. Which assures us,

1. That we shall rise out of all petty deaths and dangers, for our head is above water. Though the billows of afflictions inward and outward may rinse us, and run over us, yet they shall not drown us because our head is above water. They may threaten and frighten us, but shall not drown and destroy us; we shall wade out well enough because they can never go over our head any more.


2. That we shall at the last day rise from all the death of mortality and corruption; in which argument the Apostle is large to prove, that because Christ the head is risen, the members must also rise again, I Cor. 15:12. For,

     1. Can or will a living and powerful head always be dismembered and separated from the body?

     2. Because Christ rose not as a private person as Isaac did, but as the first fruits of them that slept, I Cor.15:20

     3. Because Christ in his resurrection is opposed to the first Adam, I Cor. 15:21: For as by the first Adam comes death on all; so by the second Adam resurrection from the dead. This is a sure prop and stay against all the miseries and occurrences of this life, and against the bitterness of death, and horrors of the grave. We are assured of a better resurrection, else were we of all men most miserable, I Cor. 15:19.


          III. A sweet consolation, God watched every motion in both these Isaacs’ offering: how far Abraham should go, how long, to the lifting up of the knife; and where he should stop; and when was fit to say, do the boy no hurt: so he watched the executioners, the crucifiers, how far they should proceed with Christ, but stopped them from breaking his bones, and kept him from seeing corruption. So when God’s time and term is come, the affliction and afflicter shall go no farther; a voice at length shall come, and say: “Stay your hand, do him no hurt.”


          IV. Both were delivered, but not till the third day; the one when the knife was up, the other being dead and hopeless, at least in the account of men, as appeared by the words of the disciples which were going to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-24). Hence we learn to make this use for the strengthening of our faith: Then to look for help and deliverance when the case is desperate, and in human sense we are gone. There is life in this comfort, which assures us of life, even in death, as Hosea 6:2, after two days he will revive us, and in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. In all wants and extremities let Abraham’s voice to Isaac comfort you: God will provide (Gen. 22:8). If Isaac sees Abraham’s sword in the one hand, and fire in the other ready to devour him, yet a little while and the sword shall be put up, and the fire shall take another object. So the faithful sons of Abraham, seeing God the Father’s sword of justice drawn against them, and the fire of his fury ready to consume them, yet at length shall see by Christ the sword put up, and the fire of wrath turned again into a flame of love and grace. Faith has a cheerful voice: God will provide. Unbelief is full of repinings and murmurings; oh how should I be provided for in this or that? I see no means, etc. Here the difference holds which was between the ten spies and the two, Num. 13. If you don’t see the means for your deliverance, go to the mountain there is a ram for Isaac: hasten your obedience, and God which set you on work, will hasten your deliverance.