Ram reading: Genesis 22:1-2, 9-14
Abraham has finally received the son God promised him. The one who will be made into a great nation. But God tells him to take him up on the mountain and offer him as a burnt offering.
This is one of my least favorite bible stories. I know it was a test to see if Abraham would TRULY trust God. But I always think about Isaac and his part in this story.
We don’t know how old Isaac was when God called Abraham to make this choice. And it WAS a choice. Abraham could have said NO! But he didn’t. He took Isaac to make a sacrifice. Abraham had everything he needed for this task but Isaac saw that something was missing. Isaac even asked about the missing piece, the lamb, but his concerns were brushed aside. “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (verse 8a).
When Abraham puts Isaac on the altar he is bound. Did Isaac stand still while his father applied the ropes? Did Abraham tell him what was going on? We know that Abraham trusted that BOTH of them would be coming back down the mountain but did Isaac when he was laid upon the altar? Was Isaac afraid? Did he trust his father? Did he trust God to return his life or to keep it safe in the first place? And did this day haunt him, or inspire him, for the rest of his life? Did he remember his father’s arm raised with the knife or the ram lying in the place he once occupied? Did he thank the ram for taking his place?
In the story we see that Abraham tied up Isaac. Was this a formality or a necessity? Did the offering want to hop up off the altar? We are called to be a ‘living sacrifice’ to the Lord. I don’t know how many times I’ve ‘crawled off the altar’ and done things my way instead.
From Abraham’s perspective in this story, I don’t believe it was an automatic easy choice. He had no idea that God was going to require this of him. I imagine he was totally shocked when the call came. I wonder if he tried to argue with God or ask Him to repeat His instructions. I know I would have wanted to ‘check ID’ on this one! We don’t see this struggle. All we see is Abraham’s obedience.
The Abraham that willingly laid Isaac on the altar was NOT the same Abram that came out of Haran. He has grown A LOT in his relationship with God. The original Abram played his wife off as his sister on two separate occasions because he was afraid what the locals would do to him because of her beauty. He didn’t trust God to look after him or protect him. That Abram also listened to his wife when she had a plan to ‘help God’ with fulfilling his promises by offering her maid in her place.
THIS Abraham had set his own hand to the foreskin of every male in his camp. He had seen God make a dead womb alive. He had bargained with God for the lives of those in Sodom. And he had gotten up the morning after receiving God’s command, chopped wood, readied the donkey, and walked out of camp without a word to anyone about what was planned. He had also laid bound his son, laid him on the altar made with his own hands, and raised the knife above his precious child to carry out the Lord’s command. The old Abram could have done NONE of these.
So how did Abram/Abraham get this AMAZING faith? He learned of God daily. He spent time with Him. He saw God’s ‘track record’ regarding His promises. He got to know God personally. That is the ONLY way to grow your faith. The ONLY way to deepen your relationship. The only way to deepen MY relationship with Him.
Father God, I want Abraham sized faith. I DON’T want Abraham sized challenges though. Can I have one without the other? THANK YOU that You haven’t called me to sacrifice my children on the altar. I suppose You could say You kind of have. You have told me to put them in Your hands and let You work in their lives. Does the fact that I keep bringing them back mean that I’m ‘taking them back’ or are they crawling off on their own? My job is to love them enough to leave them in Your hands. That was Abraham’s too. Help me trust You as fully with my children as Abraham did with Isaac.