He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.Hebrews 11:19(NASB)
The early verses of Hebrews 11 begin an in-depth exposition of faith. It explains that faith is required to receive God's acceptance, approval, and rewards. It begins by listing examples and the achievements of a succession of Old Testament men and women of faith. The later verses in this chapter list far too many heroes to name them all or discuss their various exploits and experiences. Nevertheless, the chapter's concluding statement explains that although the hopes of these great heroes has not yet been realised, God has planned something better for them and for us.
An extended discourse on the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, begins in verse 8, together with a testimonial of the faith of Abraham's wife, Sarah. We are told that many years earlier Abraham believed God and obeyed His Word when he was called to leave his homeland and go to a place where he would receive as an inheritance from the Lord.
However, from verse 17 the author introduces the theme of faith that is tested through life's trials and tribulations and the blessings that come through faithful obedience to the Word of the Lord. We read it was by faith when Abraham was tested that he offered up Isaac - his only begotten son.
Abraham's faith in God did not waver when he was tested in this way, even through he knew the inheritance he was promised could only come through his son, Isaac. Abraham did not understand why God instructed him to offer his beloved son as a sacrifice on an alter, but he trusted God's Word, "and considered that if Isaac was to die, God is even able to raise people from the dead."
By instructing him to offer his son as a sacrifice, not only appears to be breaking the covenant God made with Abraham, but it also seems to be a violation of God's holy character... but the final part of the verse gives us a clear insight into the reason Abraham was tested in this way, "he considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead - from which he also received him back as a type." The death (and resurrection) of his son was to act as a type... or pattern of the coming Messiah.
Although Abraham was stopped by the angel before his son was literally killed, Scripture informs us that God was using this encounter as a type of Christ. Isaac was to be a picture of the only begotten Son of God Who would die as a sacrifice for the sin of the world and be raised to life on the third day. This is one of many stories or happenings in the Old Testament that God uses to point us to Christ, which gives us greater understanding of His plan of redemption and encourages us to live by faith and not by sight.
By obeying God's instructions, Abraham effectively received his son back from the dead when he was halted at the last moment, and serves as a great example of a man of faith who believed God and lived his life by faith.
Like Abraham, we are all not only called to be saved by faith but also to live by faith, even though we may not understand some of the painful circumstances we are called to undergo. James encourages us to consider the various trials we encounter as a joy... knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance and develops godly patience which causes us to grow more and more like our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
May we remember the beautiful picture of Abraham's offering of his only begotten son and give thanks to God that He was ready and willing to sacrifice His only begotten Son on the Cross for our redemption.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many ways You teach us the truth of Your redemptive plan and for the example of Abraham, a man of faith who trusted You when severely tested and was used as an example of living our life by faith. I pray that my faith in You may grow and mature and that no matter what circumstances happen in this life, I will trust You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding or imagination. This I ask in Jesus' name and for His greater glory, AMEN.