“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’
‘Here I am,’ he answered.
‘Take your son,’ He said, ‘your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’
So, Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two for them walked on together.
Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, ‘My father.’ And he replied, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Isaac said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’
Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ Then the two of them walked on together. When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the Angel of the LORD called to him from Heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’
He replied, ‘Here I am.’
Then He said, ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me. Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. And Abraham named that place The LORD Will Provide, so today it is said: It will be provided on the LORD’s mountain.”
There are some things in the Bible that I have read over and over again, trying, and failing, to gain understanding. The account of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is definitely one of them.
Not only did I not understand this passage, but, if I’m honest about it, it made me down-right angry. It seems so out of character for God to command this. I just could not understand it. For sure, there is still much for me to learn about this particular event, but today I begged God to allow me to understand and He allowed me a window in. I am not totally inside to fully understand, but I have been granted a glimpse and I want to share it.
When you think of this account, and perhaps when you read it, don’t you sort of picture Isaac as a young child? Scripture does not tell us exactly how old Isaac was, but look at verse 6. “He took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac.” How much wood are we talking here? The Bible does not give a mandate for how much wood was necessary for a burnt-offering, but one would assume it would be enough to keep the fire going until the sacrificial object was consumed by the fire.
I think from this, we can safely assume that Isaac was at least a strong teenager to have carried the load of wood necessary for the offering. Of course, he could have been even older than that, but he was not likely a young child to have been able to carry the load of wood up the mountain. He would have been fairly grown and strong to accomplish that task.
Today, after years and years, I finally understood something about this event—Isaac had to be willing to be the sacrifice!
I mean, he was a strong young guy and his dad was 100 years older than him! One hundred years older!!! Isaac would have had to have allowed himself to be tied up and to be placed on top of the altar himself. Even if he was a young teenager, if he weren’t willing, it doesn’t seem that it would have been possible for Abraham to have wrestled him into submission. It would seem that Isaac cooperated completely with this plan.
What a picture of Jesus. Of course, I have known this that this account is a picture of Christ, but I never thought of it quite in this way—from Isaac’s perspective. The willingness of the son to be the sacrifice is astounding. Of course, the ultimate sacrifice was that of another Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, willingly laying down His life for us.
He allowed Himself to be beaten.
He allowed Himself to be abused.
He allowed Himself to be bound by nails to that cruel cross.
He allowed Himself to be killed.
For us, guys, He allowed it for us.
He sacrificed Himself to pay for our sin.
And it’s beautiful that God would allow Isaac and Abraham to paint a picture foreshadowing this heart-breaking, but life-giving sacrifice.
There is much I still don’t understand, but this glimpse into the “how” has helped me understand the “why” just a little bit better.
What a wonderful, precious Savior that He would lay down His life for us, so willingly.
Thank You Jesus!
Dear Jesus, I do thank You for Your wonderful and willing sacrifice. Oh, Lord, I do not feel worthy of such an honor, yet you bestow it upon me. Thank You so much for saving me from my sins. I am so glad to be forgiven and free! Amen!