Abraham said “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering…So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide’.” (Genesis 22:8 & 14)
When God made the ultimate promise in His covenant with Abraham that He would be a God to Abraham and to his descendents forever, He also added part of His name to Abram’s name – this was a custom of covenant rituals – so his name became ‘Abraham’. The change in name was God’s way of saying to him, “From now on you are no longer to think of yourself as Abram, but as ‘Abram plus Jehovah the Mighty God’. This is to remind you that what I expect of you in this covenant relationship, namely, to walk before Me and be blameless, I will also help you to fulfill. I will give you My Spirit, My strength, My redemption and My holiness. What is Mine is yours by virtue of the covenant.”
Now I can imagine, as Abraham reflected on the significance of his new name, that he must’ve been asking God, “Lord, how is it possible for me to walk before you and be blameless? I know my own heart and how sinful I am. How can I live in the presence of a holy God?”
God’s answer to his question is found in the sign of circumcision which the Lord gave to Abram. Along with the promise to be his God and the God of his descendents forever, God gave him a sign – a sign he would never forget because of the pain involved – a sign that reminded him that his old sinful nature had to be cut off through the shedding of blood. The Lord did not explain how He would accomplish this, but the rite of circumcision served as a reminder that He would. So, in a sense, this sign of circumcision was a guarantee that Abraham would remain in union with God because the Lord would provide in some way for the removal of his sinful nature through the shedding of blood.
But how? In Genesis 22 God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering. The point of the story is crystal clear from some of the words and phrases that are used – words like ‘burnt offering’, ‘sacrifice’, ‘lamb’, ‘altar’, ‘knife’, ‘slay’ and ‘fire’. Isaac is to be offered up as a sacrifice of atonement to cover his family’s sins. However, suddenly, at the last moment, God prevents the sacrifice and provides another offering in the form of a lamb.
And so here, on Mount Moriah, God showed Abraham that it was not his own sacrifice of Isaac that would secure the covenant and keep a holy God and sinners in relationship forever. Abraham couldn’t do it; he was a sinner and any offering that he brought would not be good enough. However, God would see to his needs. He would provide the sacrifice necessary. God has done this in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus meets all our needs as sinners. He is divine so He can render to God a perfect righteousness on our behalf. He is human so that He can stand in our place before God. He is the true Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.