“And it came to pass…that God did tempt Abraham”(Ge.22:1-19). In demanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac we have a passage, which at the surface sounds very contradictory. God does not tempt man of which we have this verse, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (Jas.1:13).”
At the end of the sacrifice it was not Isaac but a ram served the purpose just as well. The Angel of the Lord calling out to him from heaven thereby stopping the action is one vignette. Between God and Abraham, faith of the latter had proven what was crucial. Next was merely finding a substitute to complete the interaction. God had provided for in such visible manner the substitute. It is a clear example of the provisions that lay in God’s blessings to Abraham. Second time when God said: “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (23:18).
Abraham saw a ram caught in the thicket. It served Abraham as a substitute for his only begotten son, is a substitutionary symbol for God the Son. Ram and the Lamb of God refer to the nations in which the nation of Israel is but one. We have a similar symbol, in the story of Hosea, which shall help us to understand the context where a substitutionary symbol becomes useful. In order to testify against the spiritual whoredom of Israel and Judah what does God do? “And the Lord said to Hosea, Go take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms; for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord (Hos.1:2). Christians are enjoined to live honorably ‘not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of man (2 Co. 8:21).’ The Spirit in apportioning realities of heaven with those of the earth uses symbols, which need not always run on predictable lines. Neither shall time and place of man restrict the Glory of God to express wholly in a manner human mind may comprehend the divine rationale. It is the office of the Spirit to counsel, help and lead man into all truth. Thus anyone judging Hosea is in error as those Christians whose activism prompts them to pillory their brethren whose life styles are different. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth…(Ro.14:4,8)
Substitutionary symbol is exception to the rule.