9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
My breath gets taken away every time I read the part where “Abraham reaches out his hand and took the knife to slay his son” as I try to imagine being in a similar scenario with one of my children, and every time I drop the knife.
Abraham’s obedience is unwavering even when responding to a request the would make God look very much like the Pagan God’s of the time, often requiring human sacrifices, and kill the promise that God made to make his descendants as numerous as the stars and sand. And that’s the beauty in the faith of Abraham, it’s not established in the promise, but in God the promiser. Abraham showed his heart for God by his willingness to give his only son, the same way God demonstrated His love and commitment to us.
So in this picture we have 100 year old Abraham building an altar and 30ish year old Isaac, willingly being set upon the altar and sacrificed. Willingly has to be implied here because I’ve never met a 100 year old man that could take his 30 year old son, tie him up, and place him on an altar. The faith of the son and his submission to the father are beautiful images of Jesus that become clear while looking at Isaac in this story.
And then God provides, provides the lamb, the substitute for the sacrifice that is still required and reconfirms His promise to Abraham. Can you imagine the sheer joy of Abraham at that moment? Passing the ultimate test of trust, having your son live, and confirming a faith in God that has forever impacted this world…….let that be the joy that we live in every day!
Heavenly Father we thank you for being a loving God who desires our whole hearts. We pray that our faith would be confident in you and not just your promises and we pray for an unwavering obedience in the midst of our struggles. God let us live in the joy and the freedom that only comes through faith in Your Son Jesus. Amen.