The test of faith seems unbelievably difficult.
Of course God also stopped Abraham from actually killing Isaac on an altar, but Abraham had no idea that was going to happen. In fact, the book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed that God would raise the boy back from the dead. There are many aspects of this account that we could consider, and some difficult questions can be asked both theologically and emotionally. But think of the faith that was shown here.
In order to set the scene, notice what God said to Abraham in Genesis 22:2. “Take now 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.” Did you notice these key terms “only son” and “whom you love”? There is a recognition here of the incredible sacrifice God required of Abraham, and it is a powerful lesson for us!
Let’s pull these points together.
- God promised Abraham that he would be a great nation.
- All the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham.
- God promised Abraham that these blessings would come through his own son, given to him by his elderly wife, Sarah, and ONLY through that son (not Ishmael).
- All of Abraham’s blessings were tied up in Isaac.
- God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
So much is tied up in the command to kill Isaac.
There is no indication of the struggle that must have entered Abraham’s heart over this. There’s no word of the pain that must have stirred when his own son said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And that awful moment he had to restrain the boy in order to place him on the altar. When we think of this, we sometimes see the “Sunday-school version” where everyone is smiling and happy about this sacrifice. I can’t imagine what conflicts he had within himself over this. (And we won’t even consider Isaac’s decision not to fight his elderly father’s attempt to kill him.) But notice some great nuggets of truth from this incident.
A few points about faith
- No one and no thing should ever be more important to us than our relationship with God.
- Our own future is nothing without being first pleasing to God.
- Faith demands everything we have.
- Faith obeys even when obedience does not make sense.