And Abraham said, My son, God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering.
It is heart-moving to consider how God has given us already in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, different, yet clear illustrations of the atoning sacrifice of His Son. In the light of the New Testament we can distinguish various glories of the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Immediately after the fall through sin God had told the serpent that “the seed of the woman” would bruise his head (Genesis 3:15), an indication that the Son of God would one day be revealed in order to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
In Genesis 4:4 we read how Abel brought a sacrifice for God. In contrast to his brother Cain he did not come with the fruit of his own work, but gave of the best, the “firstborn of his flock and of their fat”. In the New Testament God makes it clear how much “better” this offering was in His sight, having been brought by faith (Hebrews 11:4).
Then in Noah’s sacrifice after the flood we have a pointer to the absolute purity and sinlessness of the offering. “Noah … took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma.” (Genesis 8:20.21). A sweet smelling savour rose from the earth up to God. Finally we see in the offering up of Isaac that the true sacrifice is a man, a type of the beloved Son of the Father, the One “foreordained before the foundation of the world” as the Lamb of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:20), whom God “did not spare …, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32).