Category Archives: cross

ISAAC

The birth of a child usually brings great joy. When it was told Abraham that he would have a son in his advanced age of one-hundred years, Abraham fell on his face and laughed (Gen. 17:17). Sarah laughed as well at the thought that she and Abraham would have a child, being “well stricken in age” (Gen. 18:11-15). At this time, her laughter must have been tinged with doubt for she was reproved for it. But when Isaac was actually born, Sarah stated “God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear me shall laugh with me” (Gen. 21:6). In Isaac, we all laugh with joy. It is no wonder that the name “Isaac” means “laughter.”

The joy at the birth of Isaac was partly because Isaac was a child of promise. God had promised Abraham many years before that he would make a great nation of him (Gen 12:1,2). When children seemed to be a long-time coming, Abraham cried to God, “To me Thou hast given no seed” (Gen. 15:3). However, God assured him that one born from his own bowels would be his heir and through him all nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 15:4). He also promised him that his offspring would be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore. God could cause even a dead womb to bring forth life (Rom. 4:18-21)

Just as Isaac was a child of promise, he was also a type of the Christ. When God promised that one was coming who would bless all nations, ultimately this was not Isaac. Before Abraham, God had promised Eve that her seed would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). To the ancient patriarch Job God has promised a Redeemer Who would stand upon the earth in the latter days (Job 19:25). In fulfillment of these and all other Old Testament prophecies, Jesus came as our Redeemer (Gal. 3:13; 4:15; Rom. 11:26; Is. 59:20). Indeed, Jesus was truly the seed promised to Abraham (Gal. 3:16).

Isaac’s life once and again demonstrated the kind of faith his father had demonstrated. With the exception of Isaac’s lie to Abimelech about his relationship with his wife, which was, in itself, reflective of his father’s character, Isaac lived an exemplary life. Isaac’s life was:

“So quiet and unenergetic, that his whole life was spent in the circle of a few miles; so guileless, that he lets Jacob overreach him rather than disbelieve his assurance; so tender, that his mother’s death was the poignant sorrow of years…so patient and gentle, that peace with his neighbors was dearer than even such a coveted possession as a well of living water dug by his own men; so grandly obedient, that he put his life at his father’s disposal; so firm in his reliance on God, that his greatest concern through life was to honour the Divine promise given to his race…” (Cunningham Geike, Hours With The Bible, p. 378).

For Abraham, however, the laughter undoubtedly turned to sorrow when God commanded him to sacrifice of his son, his only son, Isaac (Gen. 22:2). Isaac surely must have been aware that something was amiss when he and his father went off to sacrifice to God but took no offering (Gen. 22:7). Isaac was probably now at least twenty years of age. When he finally realized that he would be the sacrifice, did he struggle? Did he run in fear? Did he resist in any way? The Bible does not give the details but it appears that he submitted to his father to be offered as the offering, and, in doing so, he demonstrated a faith that rivaled his father’s!

How much did Isaac know of the seed promise given to Abraham? Surely Abraham must have spoken of this to Sarah and Isaac. We do know that immediately after Abraham’s death, God repeats the promise He had given to Abraham to Isaac (Gen. 26:1-4). It doesn’t seem to be news to Isaac that he would be given this promise. It seems possible, and perhaps even likely, then, that Abraham would have revealed this promise to his wife and son. Which makes Isaac’s role in being offered by his father all the more remarkable. If Isaac was aware, then we can assume that he was a willing participant in this sacrifice.

If the Angel of the Lord had not intervened, Abraham would have delivered the death blow. There was no doubt in God’s mind that Abraham would have gone through with it (Gen. 22:11,12). Evidently, Abraham was able to offer his son because he believed that God would raise him up if he were indeed killed in order to fulfill the promise God gave to him (Heb. 11:18; Gen. 22:5). If Abraham was certain of this because of the promise, and Isaac knew of the promise, then mustn’t Isaac’s faith have been equally strong? To knowingly face going to the slaughter and still go requires remarkable trust in God.

Our Lord came into this world knowing that He would go to the cross (Matt. 20:28). He knew that He must be about His Father’s business from the start (Luke 2:49). Yet He gave Himself willingly to save us (Rom. 5:6-8). Just as Isaac, Abraham’s only son, carried the wood for the sacrifice to the hill God had appointed (Gen. 22:2,6), Our Lord, the Only-Begotten of the Father, carried the cross to the Golgotha (John 19:17). And as Abraham received Isaac back to life again after three days (Gen. 22:4), in a figure (Heb. 11:18), so the Lord was victoriously raised after three days (Matt. 17:23; 27:64; Luke 24:46).

Rejoice evermore (I Thess. 5:16)!

Eric L. Padgett

Preaching the Cross of Christ

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (I Corinthians 1:18).

Many people professing Christianity wear a cross about their necks, or on some other form of jewelry. Others have crosses on their walls at home or in their cars, hanging from the rear view mirror. Others will have the cross printed on their t-shirt or on their jackets, apparently making some statement of rebellion. Still others have a cross permanently tattooed on their bodies. Some religions make the sign of the cross with their hands, supposing it has some religious value while some denominations have crosses set up in their buildings as objects of adoration or meditation. The Bible, of course, authorizes none of this.

Instead of adoring some intrinsically valueless material object, Paul said we ought to preach the cross of Christ (I Cor. 2:2). This is essentially what Jesus commanded in the Great Commission when He commanded the apostles to preach the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16). To preach the cross of Christ means to tell people of it’s meaning. Many people think preaching the cross should involve advancing some psychological pablum, lecturing on some self-help jargon or advising some Norman Vincent Peale style power of positive thinking message. But notice how the New Testament defines the preaching of the cross.

First, to the world, preaching the cross is foolishness (I Cor. 1:18). In their twisted, secular minds, there can be neither any lasting value nor any spiritual efficacy in the death of one man two-thousand years ago. This is because they do not want to admit the existence of God and, consequently, the reality of sin. Men of this kind called the apostle Paul a “babbler” (Acts 17:18) and ultimately mocked him (Acts 17:32). Unfortunately, there are those who still do this today and their numbers seem to be increasing daily. While the world sees the preaching of the cross as foolishness, to those of us who are saved it is the power of God.

Second, the preaching of the cross means preaching submission to God’s will (Phil. 2:8; Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Luke 9:23). Jesus did not have to go to the cross. He said no man took His life from Him, but He laid it down of Himself (John 10:18). Jesus could have called on more than twelve legions of angels to defend Him, but He chose to fulfill God’s will (Matt. 26:53,54). Jesus chose to humble Himself, to make Himself of no reputation, leave the glories of heaven and come to this sin-cursed world so that we might have the hope of eternal life (Phil. 2:5-9). Humbling Himself in such a grand way, it is no wonder that Jesus commands us to likewise humble ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him (Matt. 10:38; 16:24). This is a daily task (Luke 9:23).

Third, the preaching of the cross means preaching that offends people (Gal. 5:11). Christians to day are perhaps the least acquainted with this concept as any generation of Christians ever because they have been conditioned by our culture through political correctness never to say or do anything at all that offends. However, the Jews were offended because the cross revealed their rejection of the true Messiah (Acts 2:22-24). Jesus offended the Pharisees when He pointed out that their hearts were not right (Matt. 15:10-12). Jesus so offended His generation that they crucified Him. The apostles offended their generation by preaching the cross of Christ and were imprisoned and martyred for it. If we preach Jesus and Him crucified we will also be offensive (II Tim. 3:12).

Fourth, the preaching of the cross means preaching endurance. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb. 12:2). Jesus was not a masochist. He did not want to go to the cross for He prayed to the Father, “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me” (Matt. 26:39). Jesus went to the cross willingly so that He could deliver us from the fear and bondage of death (Heb. 2:14,15) but He went not without strong crying and tears (Heb. 5:7). He was despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3). If we follow the example of Christ, we, too, must endure trials (I Pet. 2:20,21).

Fifth, the preaching of the cross means preaching against false teaching. Paul observed that there were many who were enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). There were already too many in the first century perverting the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-9), grievous wolves, they were, entering into the fold and not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29,30). John warned against believing every spirit and commanded Christians to try those who come to them with a different doctrine (I John 4:1).

Finally, preaching the cross of Christ means preaching reconciliation to God. Paul said God reconciles both Jew and Gentile unto Himself by the cross (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20). To preach man’s reconciliation to God (note that it is not God’s reconciliation to man) means that man has sinned and left God (Is. 59:1,2). God is of purer eyes than to behold evil (Hab. 1:13). It was only through Christ coming into this world and shedding His blood that we could have this reconciliation (I Cor. 5:14-21).

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff’ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

O that old rugged Cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary

In the old rugged Cross, stain’d with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To pardon and sanctify me

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true
Its shame and reproach gladly bear
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away
Where his glory forever I’ll share

So I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

George Bennard

The cross is not an object to be worn but a life to be lived and a message to be preached.

Eric L. Padgett