The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to the land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing. . . .” Gn 12:1-2
Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran (in today’s southeastern Turkey) to follow the Lord’s calling. Though he was very wealthy, he and his wife Sarah had no children of their own. And it wasn’t until Abraham and Sarah were 100 years old that they bore their first and only own son together, Isaac. Isaac was very precious in their eyes!
Abraham, Window A
“Take your son, Isaac, whom you love so much, and go to the land of Moriah. There on a mountain that I will show you, offer him as a sacrifice to me.” Gn 22:1-2
. . .
So, in absolute Faith, Abraham and Isaac traveled 3 days up the mountain, as Isaac carried the wood (unknowingly for his own sacrifice).
Now, there are volumes on the psychology, the ethics and the symbolism of this act. From a Christian viewpoint, the mountain was the same mount on which Jesus was crucified – the only Son, the 3 days, the wood carried, the saving of Isaac – the resurrection of Jesus . . .
But remember, as He did with Noah, God made a promise, a covenant to Abraham – that he would have “many descendants” who would become “a great nation.” And we know, God doesn’t break his promises. . .
When they came to the place which God had told him about, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he picked up the knife to kill him. Gn 22: 9-10
So in the first of the Abraham Triplet windows we see the Stone Altar, the Wood for the sacrifice and the Dagger for killing Isaac (the sacrificial lamb).
If we look close enough, we also see a sweeping blue and violet veil descending from heaven, behind the dagger. This is that same breath of the Holy Spirit that brought life to the Earth, life to Adam, and life to each of us. This is the torn veil of the temple at the death of Jesus, symbolizing the birth of a new Covenant.
And again we see, flowing from beneath the altar, those baptismal waters of cleansing, healing and LIFE giving!
He answered, “Yes, here I am.” “Don’t hurt the boy or do anything to him,” he said. “Now I know that you have obedient reverence for God, because you have not kept back your only son from me.”
Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught in a bush by its horns. He went and got it and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son. Gn 22:11-13
Of course Isaac wouldn’t die. Our God is so loving. Our God is so resourceful!
Sometimes the answers are staring us right in the face. “The LORD provides!”
Sometimes it’s so simple it’s almost funny. All we need do is look and listen!
Abraham, Window B
The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time, “I make a vow by my own name – the LORD is speaking – that I will richly bless you. Because you did this and did not keep back your only son from me, . . .
The second or “Window-B” of each of the remaining window triplets contains an image of the triplet’s ‘chosen character’.
Here we see the image of Abraham carrying the staff of a wanderer. The staff symbolizes God’s protection and Abraham’s leadership. Guided by the stars of heaven and God’s calling, Abraham is the “Wandering Aramean” in search for a place to call home – a place his descendants will come to know as “the Promised Land”.
Promised because of the three-fold Covenant that God made with Abraham:
1. that Abraham would be the “father of nations,”
2. that through Abraham the world would be blessed, and
3. that Abraham would Lead his people to a new home.
Isaac was the beginning of the fulfillment of the first promise – through whom would come: Jacob (or Israel), then ‘the Twelve Tribes of Israel,’ and eventually a nation of Israelites.
By Abraham’s passing of ‘The Test’ described in the first of this Triplet’s windows, we see the beginning of the fulfillment of the second promise. For through the descendants of Israel would come Jesus, who would BE the blessing for the whole world.
And the fulfillment of the third promise, a home, “The Promised Land,” would not come to fruition until 400 years later, through our next Stained Glass Windows character, Moses!
. . . I promise that I will give you as many descendants as there are stars in the sky . . . Gn 22:17
Stars – not only guided Abraham by night, they were a permanent reminder of God’s Covenant, that Abraham would be the father of many nations.
– Abraham’s hope in the dark and cold times!
And just to make sure Abraham didn’t forget the promise at daytime, God also used the desert sand to symbolize the number of descendants Abraham would have.
– Abraham’s hope in the hot and dry times!
Your descendants will conquer their enemies. All the nations will ask me to bless them as I have blessed your descendants – all because you obeyed my command.” Gn 22:17-18
Yes, when we obediently follow God’s commands, like Abraham, rather than our own internal appetites for independence, sometimes the rewards are ENORMOUS!
Abraham, Window C
The Promised Land
– that Abraham would lead his people to a New Home.
Abraham actually reached that place in his lifetime. However, because of several droughts and famines, Abraham and his descendants were often forced to move to the neighboring land of Egypt for survival.
Unfortunately, in the move made by Jacob (renamed Israel) and his family, the people became so comfortable and so numerous in their new surroundings that the original inhabitants (the Egyptians) felt threatened by them, and made the Israelites their slaves.
Trapped in a land not their own, the Israelites longed for home. They longed for the “Promised Land” of God’s Covenant with Abraham and his son Isaac, and his son Jacob.
Living in the desert, they dreamed of a place with trees and fruit and cattle and milk and flowers and bees and honey. It would be their “Paradise”!
It was the land of their forefathers, the land of Canaan, where all these luxuries could be found.
Yet, like Egypt, this land too had its own inhabitants. And in order for the Israelites to claim that land, the people living there would have to be removed.
They remind us of another time, much later in history, when simple jars of water were transformed into wine.
It would be the time of a new covenant, the beginning of a new ‘era’ and the promise of a new home.
We too are inhabitants in a foreign land. And like the Israelites in Egypt, we long for our promised home, the ‘Kingdom of God’, as Jesus described it.
And we know that as faithful followers of Jesus, we will receive the reward of Eternal Life with Him: the home, the blessings and the prosperity.
. . . . .
400 Years after the beginning of their enslavement in Egypt, God appointed a new leader to offer the Israelites a way out. It wouldn’t be an easy trip. But it would be one that would be commemorated forever.
As we continue on our journey through time in Stained Glass Splendor, we’ll meet the Israelite’s first savior, Moses, and see how his works prefigured those of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
3. The Moses Triplet