Abraham is told to sacrifice his only son, Isaac – and he does everything asked of him by God. It is the ultimate demonstration of faith in the Lord in the entire Bible.
1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
20 Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 (Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
Most of the time, the chapters we choose aren’t likely to be stories, per se. But in this case, the story is paramount to our understanding of the most important lesson we have to learn about our relationship with the Creator of the Universe, with Our Father Who Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be His Name…
HE is more important that ANYTHING ELSE in our lives.
He is more important than our spouse, our children, our job, our interests, even our own lives. When God created us, He kept the right to every part of us – body, mind, and soul. And even if He hadn’t? His Son, Jesus Christ, bought that right back through His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Sacrifice on our behalf.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:37 that “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” It’s hard not to read that verse and think, “Who in their right mind would have followed this nutcase?”, which brings to mind C.S. Lewis’ famous description of Christ as either madman, megalomaniac, or the Son of God – but under no circumstances merely “a good teacher, for He has not left that option open to us”. If you follow Christ, you must acknowledge that He Is God. Your family is not, so no matter how much you love your parents, your siblings, your children? Love God more.
That’s what Abraham teaches us in Genesis 22, perhaps the most important short story in the Pentateuch, or Torah.
If you recall the several chapters leading up to this, Abraham and Sarah have been promised to be the ancestors of a people that will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, yet they have no children and they are in their old age already. Though Sarah was impatient and thrust her servant at her husband to force the childbearing issue (and previously demonstrated her lack of faith by laughing at the angel of the Lord at the very thought of becoming pregnant), Abraham remained faithful, and surely enough, at the age of 100, he became a father to Isaac (when Sarah was 90), in Genesis 21:2 ⇒ “And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.”
So needless to say, this child Isaac was very hard to come by.
And yet!…and yet….
Sometime many years later – and still, with just the one child, although that child Isaac is big enough to carry his weight, as we’ll soon see – the Lord came to Abraham (now in at least his 115-120 range) and says, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” in 22:2.
Think about that for a second.
It was hard enough to imagine a child when he was in his 90s and Sarah in her 80s. Now, Sarah’s well over 100. And suddenly, God wants to kill the only heir they have. Wouldn’t that throw you for a loop? Wouldn’t you immediately come back with, “Ah, Lord? Are You sure about this?” Remember, Abraham is not shy about arguing with God – recall chapter 18, when he spends a dozen verses talking Him down from fifty good men in Sodom to finding just ten in order to spare it.
And yet, there appears to be zero hesitation in Abraham. NONE. Because Abraham simply “rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. ” Why?
I’ll tell you why. Because God had made a promise to Abraham, that through his heir would come millions of descendants. For God keeps His promises, and Abraham knew that. He didn’t know how God would make this one work, undoubtedly, but somehow He would, because that promise was more set in stone than anything else in his world. He had complete faith in God.
And if you question what was going through his mind, look at what he says to the two men who had traveled three days with the father and son, in verse 5: “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” He was absolutely certain that Isaac was going to return, even if God had to resurrect him to make that happen.
Of course, he was right not to fear for Isaac´s well-being, as you read, because all God wanted was to test that faith, and Abraham (and Isaac, for that matter!) passed with flying colors. God brought a ram up the other side of the mountain to meet them, leaving him caught in a thicket for their convenience, and blessed them.
Do we have that much faith? It boggles the mind to realize just what he did on that mountainside.
Would I ¨risk¨ my son? My daughter? My wife?
If it was on the Word of God, the point is that it would not BE a risk. The Promise of the Lord is surer than the reality we see in front of us today. If God said, Sacrifice your son, and yet I will bless you with your son again, then you should know that He means what He says. And yet… could we do it?
The Word of God tells us that if we are true to Him, we will stay with Him in Heaven when we finish our time on earth. And yet, have you ever doubted that, just a little, once in a dark moment in your life? I suspect we all have, once or twice.
The Word of God tells us (in Malachi 3:10). Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. And yet, how many of us truly tithe? I can tell you from personal experience, that it works… and yet I find myself still being stingy from time to time with my offering. Surprise – the promise of God WORKS!
The Word of God tells us that Jesus Christ will return to rapture His Believers when the signs in Matthew, Revelation, and Daniel tell us so – those signs are screaming that it will happen any minute now, and yet even I stare at those signs, knowing full well that hundreds if not thousands of prophecies have lined up over centuries to bring every step of the journey in perfect alignment with the Biblical predictions – and I still have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that the Rapture will take place in a matter of weeks, no more than a few months from now! It does NOT seem possible, does it? And yet… if the Word of God is true, which Abraham teaches us in Genesis 22 that it is, then we must accept it with faith.
We must trust God. Always.