by Steve DuPlessie
Twenty-five years after God had promised them a son, Isaac was born to Sarah and Abraham. But God was still not done with Abraham, the man of faith. In a difficult chapter, God would tell him, Genesis chapter 22, to sacrifice this long-promised son—“his only son” the text says—Isaac. And … Abraham would obey.
Look at Genesis, chapter 22, verse 1: “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”
Verse 3, “Early the next morning…” I like that. Abraham obeyed immediately. No hesitation, no excuses, no delay, just obedience … that comes out of faith in God’s character, trusting God’s goodness and God’s power. Listen, faith in God always means obeying God. Don’t say you have faith in God if you’re not willing to obey God.
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’”
Did you catch that! Abraham said, “We will worship … and then we will come back to you!” He was headed off to sacrifice his son, but he fully expected that they would both come back and meet up with the servants later. That’s called … faith!
Verse 6, “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’”
Obviously Abraham had taught his son about worshipping God with sacrifices and offerings. Kids learn more from what they see us doing than from our well-intended lectures! Abraham answered, verse 8, “‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.”
“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…” (To this day, Jewish people call this story, “The binding of Isaac,” or just “The binding”), “he bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘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.’”
Verse 13, “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place Jehovah Jireh, ‘The Lord Will Provide.’ And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’”
So Isaac didn’t die that day. God rescued Isaac—just like he had rescued Noah and his family from judgment. God rescued Isaac … by providing a substitute, a ram that would take the place of the one who was doomed to die. Listen, God always provides; Jehovah Jireh always provides a way of escape from judgment.
For Noah it was the ark. For Isaac it was the ram. For the first-born son on the night of the Passover it was the spotless lamb. And some 2000 years later, God would sacrifice his only son, who carried the wood for his sacrifice, up the mountainside of the very same mountain. That deeply loved son, Jesus, was both the sacrifice, and a substitute for those doomed to die – you and me.
And this time no one would come to the rescue. God would honor the ancient blood covenant he made with Abraham. Through his descendant, Jesus, God would cut a new blood covenant promise — “This cup is the new covenant in my blood shed for you…” – Luke 22:20 — so all the world, not just one family or one nation, can be blessed.
And like Abraham, we receive all the promised blessings of this new covenant through … faith. Want faith like Abraham? Then you must do what he did. He trusted God, and because he trusted God, he obeyed God. And Abraham’s faith in God counted as righteousness. And perhaps the best news of all…you can trust God too.