Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided."
After the miraculous birth of Isaac, the child of promise, Abraham was tested by God. This testing should not be taken in the sense of tempting but refining. God was testing Abraham like a master goldsmith tests his metal. The testing is not an attempt to find out what you have. The testing is intended to refine what you have. Big difference.
God has already been refining Abraham for years. While Abraham waited for the fulfillment of the birth of Isaac his trust in God was built. The miraculous nature of Isaac's birth foreshadowed the miraculous birth of Christ. The offering of Isaac served as a type of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The Offering of the Son
We must always be careful when offering allegorical interpretations. Such handling of the text without restraint can lead to all sorts of speculation. In this case, we are on firm ground in treating the offering of Isaac as a foreshadowing of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, "IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED." He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. (Hebrews 11:17-19)God chose to refine Abraham with this very specific and difficult test because God Himself would fulfill this type in the future by the sacrifice of His own beloved Son. The author of Hebrews tells us plainly that Abraham's faith in offering Isaac and receiving him back were a type of the resurrection.
This word, type, means something like figure, illustration, or symbol. Very literally this testing was a parable given by God of the future death and resurrection of the coming Christ.
In the illustration we see some parallels between the crucifixion of Christ and the offering of Isaac. Both Jesus and Isaac carried the wood on their backs on the way to the place of their sacrifice. Most astounding is the expectation that Abraham expresses that God will provide the lamb.
The Lamb of God
The context of Genesis 22 demonstrates an unresolved fulfillment of the faith of Abraham. Abraham is vindicated in his trust of God. God's testing achieves its intended purposes. Isaac was never in any real physical danger. But there is still an unresolved issue that remains in the text.
Abraham answers Isaac's question about the sacrifice with his expectation of God's providence:
Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. (Genesis 22:8)A few verses later this expectation is partially fulfilled.
Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided." (Genesis 22:13-14)In the immediate context, God provided. However, Abraham expected a lamb and received a ram. The expectation of God's provision of a lamb is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist immediately recognized this when he exclaimed at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry:
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
Indeed, God provided for Abraham and Isaac. This provision served as an example more than 1600 years before Jesus was born, crucified, and risen from the dead. God chose this emotionally charged and difficult test to exemplify the seriousness of sin and the heaviness of the price that would be paid to redeem a people to Himself.
Those who use this passage of Scripture to claim that God was cruel in using such a drastic test in the life of Abraham and Isaac fail to understand that this passage really emphasizes the love of a God who, although He stayed the hand of Abraham and ensured Isaac's safety, was willing to offer His own beloved Son for the salvation of His enemies.