GREATEST LOVE FORESHADOWED
There is a principle in the study of God’s Word called the Principle of First Usage. The first appearance of certain words in the Bible have significant meaning. An example is the first occurrence of “grace,” which is found in the passage regarding Noah and the Great Flood. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8)
Using a concordance, such as Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, or by searching for the word “love” on the Blue Letter Bible website (http://www.blueletterbible.org/), I found an interesting pattern. “Love” is found twenty-four times in the first five books of the Bible (the Torah or the Pentateuch). I looked at who spoke or who loved or what was loved.
In the first three occurrences, those who loved were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs of the Children of Israel. It is interesting that in the first five books, “love” is not found as a verb associated with the Children of Israel. There are several places where the Lord commanded them to “love” Him, but in the Torah the Children of Israel are not found loving anything.
The Torah contains ten appearances of “love” that are not commands. After the first three mentioned above (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), there are three uses where “thousands” love the Lord, one which speaks of a servant loving his master and family, and three instances of the Lord loving the Children of Israel. Again, I find it amazing that Israel is not noted for loving the Lord.
The greatest example of love is found in the first usage. In Genesis 22 the Lord told Abraham to sacrifice his son, the Child of Promise, that he loved. Abraham took Isaac to what was later known as Mount Zion where the Temple was built, and prepared to sacrifice him there. Isaac was not a child. According to Hebrew tradition Isaac was about thirty years old at the time. And a child could not carry enough wood to burn the sacrifice. Abraham was obedient. If Isaac was about thirty years old, then Abraham was one-hundred and thirty years old at the time. Isaac, who could have resisted his father, was obedient. And the Lord provided a substitute for Isaac.
This story is a wonderful picture of God the Father offering His only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice. Jesus was obedient. Jesus carried the wood (the cross). Jesus was a little over 30 years of age at the time of His crucifixion. He was offered up as a sacrifice on the same mountain where Abraham was prepared to offer his only son. He was crucified on the same mountain (geologically) where the Temple stood and the sacrifices were made. This time Jesus was the substitute for our sins.
We just celebrated this marvelous event on Resurrection Sunday. It was foreshadowed some 4,000 years ago by Abraham and Isaac. And it occurred with the first use of the word “love” in the Bible. Praise the Lord for His wonderful love for us. Praise the Lord for Jesus and the Salvation we have through Him.