“Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, ‘My father.’ And he replied, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Isaac said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’” (Genesis 22:7)
That haunting question was asked atop Mount Moriah 4,000 years ago. Little did 10-year-old Isaac know that he was the intended sacrifice. When Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” he was looking for the sacrifice that would make Father and Son right with God and fix their broken world.
We still hear the question: “Where is the lamb to make things right and fix the world?” We don’t phrase the question quite like that today. After all, sacrifice is taboo and relegated to the ancient world. We’re much too sophisticated nowadays. But we do ask, “What will it take to fix the world?”
With Adam and Eve removed from Eden and the ground cursed, nature became inhospitable with tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice in Texas once a year … and we might add to that, viruses. Paul describes it like this: “For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” (Romans 8:20–22)
Even worse than a sin-ravaged planet is a sin-ravaged people! Since Cain killed Abel, war and strife haven’t ceased. Cain’s great-great-grandson Lamech bragged of his murders and of the fact that he was 10 times as cursed as Cain (see Gen. 4:23-24).
In fact, I would argue that much of the horror the modern world has faced has come from humanistic attempts to answer Isaac’s question, “Where is the lamb?” Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we listen to the lie of the serpent, “You will be like God.”
Unimaginably rich, clever, charismatic, powerful people offer us utopia. They tell us what we should do, what we can say and think, and how we should live. They offer technology, entertainment, and safety. They make promises we want them to keep but somehow innately know they can’t keep. These totalitarians play God for us, and we let them … because we know we need saving.
Our world is broken. No one has a working plan to get us back to paradise. Our problem, as Paul reminds us: “For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)
But God had a plan: sacrifice. Isaac realized it on the mountaintop that day. Only a perfect sacrifice would make humans right with God and fix this broken world. And that spotless lamb, of course, is Jesus.
Jim Mann, Ph.D., pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online at 10 a.m. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.