“Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.” Gen. 22:7-8
Isaac inquires of his father Abraham where the animal for the sacrifice is, since they brought all the other provisions with them from Gerar. Even the wood was brought, as they did not know if Moriah would have any wood to use. (Plaut) If Abraham would have brought a lamb however, it would have shown such a lack of faith that there would be no point in making the trip. Surely Abraham was hoping God would somehow relent from His request, but armed with incomplete information he simply had to move forward. This is not unlike our own Christian walk at times.
Abraham’s answer that “God will provide for Himself the lamb” (v. 8 ) was unknowingly prophetic, though not specifically in the current circumstance. God did provide a substitute animal for Abraham’s offering, but it was a ram, not a lamb. The lamb that God would ultimately provide as an offering for Himself would be Jesus the Messiah, the pure and spotless lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
The modern translations of this portion of the verse may be lacking in scope however. Here are a few other translations of this section of the text from various Hebrew sources (emphasis mine):
“The lamb is known to the LORD”
“God will seek out for Himself the lamb for the offering”
“God will see to the lamb for the burnt offering”
It appears what reads in our modern English translations simply as provision really involves this idea of knowing or seeing. Consider the same Hebrew word, ra’ah, is used four times in this chapter alone, but is translated differently two of those times:
- v. 4 – On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance
- v. 8 – “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
- v. 13 – Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns
- v. 14 – Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide
According to Strong’s, to provide, or provision, isn’t one of the definitions of the word. So what does this mean for this verse? Robert Alter in his commentary believes it has to do with the scope of what we are reading – “And so we need to ‘see’ past a short sighted view of child slaughter to the grander scope of the promise of true vision.” This could be the case. It could also be implying that God knows the Lamb, Christ, who will ultimately be the sacrifice, personally.