“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said…….”I will make a covenant with you” (Genesis 17:1-2)
Last week we put together the puzzle of Holy Week. When doing a jigsaw puzzle, you begin by connecting the edge pieces that form the outline of the puzzle. You then work inward until you finally finish the entire puzzle. It is the last piece that completes the puzzle. Our Holy Week puzzle began with the edge pieces of Monday’s events. We then worked inward and talked about Christ’s death on the cross. And now we will put in place the final piece that will complete the puzzle.
That final piece first appeared back around 1900 BC, when God made his covenant with Abraham shortly after Abraham crossed the Euphrates into the land of Canaan. That covenant was sealed with Abraham bringing his promised son, Isaac on a donkey to the place where he was to be sacrificed. Once there, Abraham placed the wood for the sacrifice on Isaac’s shoulders to carry up the mountain for the offering. Atop the mountain, Abraham laid his son Isaac on the wood and bound him. But just as Abraham lifted his knife to sacrifice his son, God stopped him and provided a substitute sacrifice – a ram. Abraham had fulfilled his part of the covenant, even though he did not have to follow through with the death of his promised son.
The thing about that covenant, as with any covenant between two people, is the fact that both parties must fulfill their part of the covenant. Without both parties fulfilling their part, it is not a covenant. So fast forward two thousand years from the Abrahamic covenant, to when God fulfilled his part of the covenant. Jesus Christ also was brought as the sacrifice on a donkey on Palm Sunday. And just like Isaac, Christ’s wood cross was placed on his shoulders, as He carried it to the place of sacrifice. As Abraham kept his part of the covenant with God and laid his son on the wood to be sacrificed, so God laid his Son on the wood cross and bound him. The only difference is that the sacrifice of God’s Son was not terminated. Messiah was killed on the wood of sacrifice, and the covenant was complete between Abraham and God. Jesus Christ was the sacrifice as well as the substitute sacrifice because he died our death for us.
But there is one other interesting note about this final puzzle piece. Across the top of this piece, we find the word love. In the account of the Abrahamic covenant, the word love appears for the first time in Scripture. (“Take your son, your only son Isaac, who you love” – Genesis 22:2). The sacrifice of the covenant between God and Abraham defined what true love is. It defined God’s ultimate love. The sacrifice of his Son for our salvation. God kept his covenant promise.
Now we have a completed puzzle. Or as Paul Harvey used to say, “now we know the rest of the story.”