Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The wood, the fire and the knife: between Isaac and Jesus

This is from the blog Daily Meditation:

Genesis 22:6:  And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. And they went both of them together.

Abraham sacrificed his son in a prophetic act (which he may not be aware of) for what God would do with his own Son, Jesus.

While the two of them (Abraham and Isaac) were going along the way (Abraham going to sacrifice Isaacin obedience to God and Isaac with the wrong notion); they had three things with them:  wood, fire and knife (Genesis 22:1-19).


Abraham took the wood and laid it on Isaac. That was exactly what happened with Jesus. He had the wooden cross on which he was going to be crucified laid on him (Luke 22-23). (Isaac was also laid on the wood, but Abraham was prevented from going through with cutting up his throat by God.)

I imagine that Jesus going along the road to the place of the crucifixion with the wood of the cross is to construct the bridge that links heaven to earth.

I’ll explain.

While Jesus Christ was talking with Nathaniel the first chapter of the book of John, he told him that he would see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the son of man (John 1:44-51), referring to himself.

That was a direct reference to what Jacob saw in his dream, while on the run from his brother, Esau (Genesis 28). He stopped at a place, placed his head on a stone and dreamt of heaven opening and the angel of God ascending and descending on a ladder set up to heaven. And Jesus’ effort on the cross, reached heaven and linked it to earth.

From his words to Nathaniel, Jesus was communicating that he is the ladder that links heaven to earth. That wood of the cross, that Jesus carried to Golgotha stands for Jesus linking heaven to earth. The cross stands for his death and in his death, he bridged the gap between God and man, and reconciliation with God is now preached in his name (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) to all nations.

That wood/cross touched the earth and was the channel of his blood flowing to the earth. He is the one from heaven and His blood flowed from that wood and was released to the earth.

That wood also stands for a tree- Jesus is the tree of life. He is the source of life. That is his spiritual description (James 1:1-5, 1John 5:10-13). We read that the life of a person is represented by the blood (Deuteronomy 12:23), as the blood of Jesus flows, his life flows. As the tree of life, the blood that flows from him releases his life to us, as we embrace that reality by faith.

That is why when Paul said he does not want to know anything among the Corinthians except Christ and him crucified (2Corinthians 2:1-9, Galatians 6:14-18, 1Corinthians 1:18-31).

He also said that through the cross the world is crucified to him and he to the world i.e. he is dead to the world and the world is dead to him. That is a separation; the world is separated from him and him from the world. He becomes a man set apart. And the sacrifice of Jesus impacts us that deeply.

The cross sent Jesus out of the world, making him otherworldly; the same with us in our identification with the cross of Jesus.

Paul said that his preaching of the cross is the dividing line (separation point akin to death) because until you see your sin in the light of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ had to pay to redeemed you from its consequences and influence, it is then you will respond in full devotion and appreciation to him.

Not seeing the cross accurately is the making of lukewarm Christians, with mixed up identity, mixed with the world. They are not dead to the world, neither the world to them? We need the restoration of the preaching of the cross: the implication of it and its demand, which is that each one of us is called to carry her cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).


Fire is a natural phenomenon and it is a necessity when the focus is a burnt offering.

Fire also stands as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), both for judgment and for empowerment. It is written that God makes his ministers flames of fire (Hebrews 1:7), empowers then with the fire from the presence of God.

We read that Jesus Christ offered himself to God by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) to God. The offering of Jesus was through the Holy Spirit.

And it is the fire that same he releases to us, to bring us the reality of the truth that is in him: the presence of the Holy Spirit applies the work of Jesus on the cross into our life, saving us; as it is written that if any does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9).

The fire is a necessary part of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, as a symbol of total commitment and devotion. When God gave Jericho into the hands of the children of Israel, he warned that the whole of it should be dedicated to him (Joshua 6:1-26); no one should keep any part of it (gold silver and bronze metal should be put in the treasury of the Lord). The whole place is to be burnt with fire, in total concentration to God.

Paul has as his aim in ministry that he would offer to God the offering of the gentiles sanctified by the Holy Spirit (he wrote that to the Roman Christian). What he meant, at least partly, was that the impact of his ministry among the gentiles should result in those under his ministry to have absolute devotion to God (Romans 15:15-16).

Earlier, he had written to the same group of Christians, pleading with them to present their bodies, living sacrifices (perpetually on fire), holy and acceptable to God being their reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2). Being a living sacrifice means a total devotion of the will, mind and body to God, totally committed to his will. They would not be conformed to this world but be transformed through the fire of devotion to always be sensitive to the will of God.

Because of the total commitment that being hung on the tree was for Jesus, the same is demanded in those who come to God through him, enjoying the benefit of his sacrifice having their sins forgiven. As it is written, he that is forgiven much loves much, i.e. she is devoted more (Luke 7:44-50).

The bible admonished that we should share the mind that Christ has (Philippians 2: 4-11), in total commitment to the will for God. He is our examples and we are meant to follow in his steps.


Before the fire is applied, there has to be the knife applied to the neck of the sacrificial lamb?

The knife to the neck is the act of men through whom the pain of death comes.

For Jesus, it starts with Judas. Jesus Christ has said that though he is going to die, woe to the person through whom it would happen (Matthew 26:24). Also, there is the religious hierarchy who actually seized him and handed him over to the Roman authority; and lastly Pilate.

The wife of Pilate had a dream on the night before the sentencing of Jesus from which she told her husband not to have anything to do with Jesus.

The innocence of Jesus had been confirmed over and over. But eventually the people said they wanted the criminal Barabbas freed and Jesus to be crucified. He was crucified by popular demand of the crowd whipped into a state of frenzy by the Pharisees.

While Jesus hung on the cross, he said that God should release forgiveness, as his last wish before his death, to everyone responsible for his death. He holds no grudge against those who put the knife to his neck, figuratively.

Also in our lives many people would do things to us, we would go through the fiery furnace of affliction an as a direct effect of people’s action to us (or inaction).

That happened to the apostles. When two of them were flogged, they rejoiced that they are counted worthy to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:40-42). James says that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials (James 1:1-7).

Virtually all trials are like the knives put on the flesh of our neck through the hand of men. It is therefore an opportunity to die to the flesh. Paul says I die daily (1Corinthians 15:30-34). That is not a tea party at all. He said he fought with beasts in Ephesus and his life is constantly in danger.


In my analysis of the components of the sacrifice of Jesus (taking a cue from Abraham’s intended sacrifice of Isaac), I have sought to relate it to our individual lives.

In the wood, we receive the lesson of carrying our cross daily, in the fire we are to offer ourselves to God in total devotion and in the knife we are to face difficulties from the hand of men with equanimity declaring your faith even in God who raise Jesus from the dead (Colossians 2:11-12). This is so that we might experience in our life his resurrection just like Paul wanted: to attain to the resurrection from the death.

Sometimes we are to apply the knife to our own neck, in self denial and discipline. In the book of Proverbs we are told that when we are before a ruler we should put the knife to one’s own throat in a symbolic sense, representing self-restraint.

Self-restrain and denial is the gate to experiencing the resurrection life of God.

The fire also has something to do with you as a symbol of the consecrated life; our life must be run on the dictate and agenda of God, down to the minutest details: everything on fire.

And the cross is another symbol of devotion but the focus is on what you deny yourself of, devolve yourself from, while the fire is also a symbol of devotion, it is however focused on  what you commit yourself in to as in God, in devotion, the thing you are doing, where you are going.

No comments:

Post a Comment