“17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
Today we will continue our discussion about Abraham. We already learned that Abraham was obedient to God’s commandments (see Moving with a Promise: Abraham's Obedience). We know he was tested plenty, and we know all the blessings he received because of his obedience. But now came a bigger test. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, the very son that had come as a miracle in his old age. Genesis 22:2 reads, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” God knew that Abraham loved Isaac and required the sacrifice. I cannot imagine the thoughts that went through Abraham’s head when he received this commandment.
I was amazed at his response in Genesis 22:3, “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” Abraham did not hesitate. He made preparations the very next day, and the scriptures point out that it was early in the morning. It was three days journey to Mount Moriah. Abraham could have turned around if the pain of what he was going to do was too much to bear. But he did not. He made the journey. Three days of thinking of what was going to take place. Three days of thinking about his son, Sarah, and all that they had experienced. Three days evaluating his faith in God and the promises that had been made to him, more than likely evaluating those specific to the Abrahamic covenant. How was his seed supposed to become as the dust of the earth or the stars in the sky if he sacrificed Isaac? At least those are the things I would have thought about had I been in his shoes.
They finally arrive. Abraham tells the two young men to stay with the donkey, and that he and Isaac would go worship. Look for the symbolism pertaining to God and His Only Begotten son in the following verse. Genesis 22:6 “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.” Isaac had to carry the things that Abraham was planning to use for his sacrifice, much like the Savior had to carry His own cross to be crucified for us all. Here is where Isaac thinks something seems odd. He asks Abraham in Genesis 22:7 “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” If I had been in Abraham’s position trying to answer that question, I probably would have broken down and told Isaac to run far away. Instead, Abraham replies in verse eight, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” He didn’t answer Isaac’s question directly in my opinion. It appears to be symbolic once again to the Lamb, the Son of God, and the sacrifice that would be required several years down the road. But that answer was enough for Isaac, and they kept going.
Abraham and Isaac make it to the specified spot for the sacrifice, Abraham builds an altar, lays down the wood, and then binds up Isaac and lays him on the altar. Can we talk about Isaac’s faith for a minute? Did Isaac think what his father was doing was insane? Did he trust that God would provide an alternative rather than his own life? There is no mention of Isaac putting up a fight. He submitted to the will of his father Abraham, just like Jesus Christ submitted to the will of God. Isaac also demonstrated exceedingly great faith. Right before Abraham was going to pierce his beloved Isaac with the knife, the angel of the Lord stops him. Genesis 22:12 reads, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing though has not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Can you imagine the joy Abraham and Isaac both felt after the trial of their faith? How grateful were they when they saw the ram in the thicket and when they performed the burnt offering using that ram!
God may not ask us to sacrifice our own children at an altar in such a manner. He may ask us to sacrifice them for a short while in His service. He may not even require that of us at all. He may ask you to sacrifice your pride and do something that is really tough, like extend a hand of fellowship to someone that hurt your feelings in the past. He may ask you to sacrifice your time or your possessions for the building up of His kingdom. Will you have the faith of Abraham and Isaac when he requires you to do a hard thing? Can you begin preparing your heart today for when that trial does come? Can you ask God to help strengthen you now so that you may not falter? Or maybe he already has asked you to do something very difficult. If so, feel free to share that experience with us if you desire. I pray that we may all develop the faith to do anything that God requires of us.
Feel free to download the Hebrews 11 Part 2 study guide to help you with this post and the upcoming posts!