The man had left everything he had known to follow God. Why would God require this of him now? He thought back to the time when he stood underneath the host of stars; their light penetrating the deep darkness. It was then that God had told him his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. He had waited. He had hoped. Finally, when he and his wife had passed the age of 90, the promise was fulfilled. It was a testament to the greatness of God and the faithfulness of His promise.
The joy of a son had now been replaced with the throbbing of confusion in his mind. Why would God ask him to kill his son, his only son, as a sacrifice? Yet the unknown did not overcome obedience to his God. His son was a gift from God, and to God his son belonged.
As the sun arose he began preparing for a three day journey to the land of Moriah. It was the place that God had told him to go. He cut the wood that would be used to burn his son, prepared the donkey that would carry the wood, and awoke his son to begin the end.
After three days he saw the place in the distance. As it arose on the horizon his palms began to sweat. His stomach tightened. He pleaded with God silently to not have this happen. How could he gather the strength to plunge a knife into his own flesh and blood? Yet one foot stepped in front of the other, bringing him closer to the place he did not want to go.
When they reached the base of the mountain where the sacrifice took place, he laid the wood on his son to carry. Abraham gathered the instruments to create a fire; and the knife. A look of confusion shrouded Isaac’s face. He said, “Father, where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” How should he answer that question? Fresh stabbings of pain filled his heart as he replied, “God will provide it, son.”
As they climbed the mountain the emotions become almost unbearable. Once they had reached the place, Abraham built the altar. He laid the wood on top of it, and then looked at his son. Staring back at him, was the embodiment of his legacy. Why had God promised him a heritage through his son if He was now telling him to kill that very promise? He had looked forward to training his son on how to be a man, how to love God, how to provide for his family, and how to love the woman that God had for him someday. That was to end on this mountain.
He restrained his son and bound him up. Laying him on the altar, Isaac looked back at him with a horrified expression. Fear and anguish were like a vice, squeezing the life out of Abraham’s heart. He gripped the knife with white knuckle strength as he lifted it up over his son’s body. This was it…
A thunderous voice then split through the air like an unexpected flash of lightning. The voice, filled with power and authority called out Abraham’s name. The angel of the Lord said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” As Abraham closed his eyes in thankfulness to God, a sweeping sea of thankfulness rushed over him.
As he opened his eyes, his gaze focused on a noise behind him. There, in a thick bush he saw a ram that had caught its horns in the thicket. The boy was quickly replaced on the altar by the ram and offered up to God as a sacrifice. Abraham looked at his son as the smoke rose to the heavens. He said, ” This place will be called, ‘The LORD will provide'”.
The angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham again and gave him a promise for his obedience to such a hard task. His offspring would be like the sand on the seashore, they would possess the gate of their enemies and through his lineage the whole world be blessed. As Abraham stood on the mountain he lifted his heart in worship to his gracious and sovereign God. He had tasked Abraham with a difficult life of wandering through deserts and requiring of him patience in the promises to be revealed. Yet the fellowship he had with his Creator far outweighed the the suffering he walked through.
Abraham hoped in that which he did not see in his lifetime. Far after he had left this earth, another Man would come to earth as an only Son. A Son who would bear the weight of humanity’s sin and be beaten beyond recognition. He would not be spared as Isaac was. The knife took the form of a whip which ripped his back to mere shreds of flesh. The wood took the form of a cross that was laid on his shoulder to carry. He was sacrificed that we may live. God laid on Christ the iniquity of us all.
One day he will come back very different from whence he came. Are you ready for that day?
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has withstood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those that love him. James 1:12