“And he put forth his hand and took the sword, to sacrifice his son. And behold an angel of the Lord from heaven called to him, saying: Abraham, Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. And he said to him: Lay not thy hand upon the boy, neither do thou any thing to him: now I know that thou fearest God, and hast not spared thy only begotten son for my sake. Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw behind his back a ram amongst the briers sticking fast by the horns, which he took and offered for a holocaust instead of his son.” (Genesis 22:10-13)
Literal Sense: God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his “only begotten son” (v. 22), Isaac, on Mount Moriah. Abraham obeyed God and as he was about to sacrifice his only begotten son, God intervened in his sacrifice and stayed his hand. God then provided a substitute sacrifice in the place of Isaac.
Allegorical Sense: God sent his only begotten Son to be the fulfillment of the substitute sacrifice God gave to Abraham in place of Isaac. As God intervened in the sacrifice of Abraham and substituted another in the place of Isaac, God intervened in the sacrifices of mankind, including the sacrificial system of Israel, and substituted his only begotten Son in their place. Additionally, as God intervened in the sacrifice of Abraham, God daily intervenes in our offerings of bread and wine as the Holy Spirit changes the substance of the elements into the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Father’s only begotten Son.
Moral Sense: These things were written to remind us that our offerings without Christ’s sacrifice are like filthy rags, but with Christ’s offering of His own body, our offerings are meritorious.
Anagogical Sense: The fact that Abraham’s hand was stayed shows his sacrifice was incomplete but Christ’s bloody sacrifice is complete and effectual for all eternity, “For by one oblation he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) As a result of such a sacrifice, if we remain faithful, we will enjoy the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice for all eternity.