John Walton says that it is not really fair to compare Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac to the sacrifice of Christ. He says that it is not mentioned in the New Testament. (Bible Story Handbook) Then again, a good OT scholar, Derek Kidner is not averse to making the link. (Tyndale OT Commentary).
One question is whether the NT is the only fair interpreter of the OT when it comes to Christological passages. That is, we can only go where the NT has already gone. On the other hand, it would seem in several places that there is a rich mine in the OT that is fairly compared to the NT, not all of which is in the NT. Note these two comments:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:17 This is the risen Christ giving a tutorial to the disciples on the Emmaus Road. the book of Hebrews makes many connections as does Paul in I Corinthians. For example, ” Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, to whom the end of the ages has come.”
There needs to be some care taken, so we don’t make up what is not there. So what then is the case for comparing Isaac to Jesus?
1. The phrase “your son, your only son, whom you love” evokes the feel of John 3:16 “…who sent his only son.”
2. Isaac is the entire promised Seed of Abraham (seed can be singular or plural as in english) at that point of Genesis 22, all of the promises of God to Abraham, to bless him and the nations are down to Isaac. There is much exegetical material indicating that Christ is the fulfillment of the “seed” promise, first mentioned in Genesis 3:15.
3. The idea of a sacrifice and of a substitution is in Genesis 22. The NT sees the cross as a sacrifice and as a substitution of Christ for the sinner in bearing the cost of sin.
4. Isaac does not, in the end, have to experience death, but Christ does.
5. God will provide (twice in Genesis 22) fits with Christ as God’s provision – for example John’s call, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (Jn 1:29)
Now what for the arguments against.
1. The NT does not cite this event in this way.
2. Abraham’s sacrifice is a test, not a substitute.
3. Jesus was willing, but we don’t know what Isaac thought.
In all it is fair to be careful, and not to overstate or over emotionalize the passage. However, it seems to me that the comparison is in the text when viewed from teh NT perspective. Just as it seems to be that Moses offered to give his life in exchange for the people is also fair. (Ex 32:32) What Moses was not permitted to do was what Christ did. This also is not mentioned in the NT.
Also, we need to be careful not to allow the typology overwhelm the actual NT teaching. There is a suggestion or a shadow of what is to come. What came later can be understood in the light of what came before. However, what came later more or less supersedes the previous. The light of Isaac is not from Isaac, so much that he is a suitable surface from which the light of Christ can reflect.