Peter wrote that Jesus was foreordained before the foundation of the world to be a sacrificial lamb. (1 Pet.1.19,20)
And those that seek shelter in the cross of Christ are spoken of as chosen in Him “before the foundation of the world”. (Eph.1.4)
These truths are clearly within the wider context which was revealed in His prayer to His Father when He asked, “O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was”. (John 17.5)
The Christ before the foundation of the world.
The Cross before the foundation of the world.
The Church before the foundation of the world.
The Shadow of the Cross in Genesis
The shadow of the cross can be seen much clearer in Abraham’s encounter with God recorded in Gen. 22. The Lord had been relating and inter-reacting with Abraham for many decades. With each encounter Abraham was being groomed to know a little more of the mind of God, and be brought more into conformity with the character of God. Now, in his old age, Abraham was privileged to be tested in a way that would reflect the work of God the Father when the Son of God had to be offered up as a whole burnt offering on the altar of Golgotha. Abraham answered the call of God in verse 1 with the word ‘hineni’. Translated ‘here am I’ it indicates readiness, receptivity and responsiveness to instructions. The word ‘hineni’ is a refrain in the whole episode. Abraham employs it to answer God in v.1, to reply to Isaac in v.7, and to the angel of the Lord in v.11. The call came from the true, personal God, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Of course, God did not require human sacrifice and provided an animal for Abraham to offer on the altar, thus cementing the principle of substitution. In such a way, Abraham was permitted to prefigure to the Jewish nation, the code that would underpin their salvation.
There is a sweet touch in the narrative when Isaac, ignorant of the intention of Abraham, asked to see the sacrificial lamb. Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”, or better, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering”, as the RSV translates it. Nevertheless, the truth that will be evident at Calvary is that - God Himself will provide the lamb, together with - God will provide Himself a lamb - that is, God, in the person of the Son will voluntarily die as the Lamb which bears away the sin of the world.