As a child I always found the biblical narrative of the ritual binding of Isaac on Mt Moriah to be quite perplexing.To be honest the idea that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son as a demonstration of his faith never really sat well with me.While I relished in other biblical narratives such as David and Goliath or Daniel in the Lions den the idea of a God who is personified as” love”(1,John 4:8) condoning or even asking for human sacrifice went strictly against everything that I had been brought up to believe. But as I chose to delve deeper into that particular passage of scripture I have found something very revealing regarding the true nature of God and something extraordinary in the kind of faith possessed by Abraham, a man who throughout the pages of history has become known as the father of many nations. True to Gods promise in the Abrahamic covenant Abraham is known as the father of the major three world religions Christianity Islam and Judaism.Many have erroneously concluded that the biblical story of Abraham sacrificing (or rather being willing to sacrifice) Isaac points to a “biblical endorsement of ritual sacrifice. However within the pages of Genesis I see something quite different in this narrative. Please allow me to elaborate: Turn the pages of your bibles to Genesis Chapter 22.We will begin our study in verse 2:And he said to Abraham take now thy son,thy only son Isaac,whom you love and go to the land of Moriah,and offer him there at one of the mountains for a burnt offering.Which I will tell you.3And Abraham arose early the next morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young male servants with him and Isaac,his son.He also carried the wood for the burnt offering. And he arose and went unto the place God told him . Then
on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off (in the distance )5 And Abraham said unto his young men ” abide ye here with the donkey while I and the lad go up yonder to sacrifice and worship and come again together unto you. This verse again together revealed to me the simple fact that Abraham had every confidence that in spite of what God was asking him to do that he would be returning with a living, breathing Isaac.We see in Hebrews Chapter Eleven in what we have come to know as the Great “Hall of faith” that Abraham fully believed that God had the power to raise Isaac from the dead.We also notice throughout the Biblical narrative of Abraham’s life he is known as the “friend of God” because as with Moses Abraham reasoned and talked with God face to face “as a man would his friend”. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than the day God tested Abraham on Mount Moriah.Now as I picture Abraham wielding the knife to slay Isaac I think of my own children and how impossible this command would be for me to carry out as a mom.I picture tears falling from Abraham’s face because this was the child promised to Abraham in the beginning of his sojourn with God.Now God was essentially asking him do you love the giver? More than the gift? In this astounding act of radical faith Abraham shows us his unshakeable faith in the sovereignty of God.Verese 6 says and Abraham took the wood andthe burnt offering and laid it upon Isaac his son,and he took the fire and the knife and he and Isaac went up together. 7And Isaac spoke unto Abraham and said behold the kindling the wood and the knife but where is the lamb that we may sacrifice? 8And Abraham said,My son God will provide himself a lamb to be sacrificed, so they went both together. At this point Isaac had probably gone several times up to sacrifice with Abraham and had no reason to feel a lack of comfort or distress Verse 9 says that Abraham built an altar and laid the wood upon the altar. Verse ten says that Abraham wielded the blade in preparation to slay his son; at this point I can only imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind.Isaac was the child God had promised him and Sarah .God himself had told Abraham during the days Sarah wanted to be rid of Ishmael that “In Isaac shall thy seed be called”.Abraham had walked with God all the days of his life and Isaac was more than just Abraham’s heir he was the living embodiment of the faithfulness of God.I still to this day imagine that altar being wet with Abraham’s tears….but Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. This to me represents a very deep relationship with God that led Abraham to an absolute conviction that one way or another both he and Isaac were walking away from that fire unscathed.Verse Eleven states:And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven saying Abraham! Abraham replied ” Here am I”.12And he said Lay not thine hand upon the lad,neither do anything unto him for now I know that you fear God seeing you withheld not thine only son from me.Verse 13 saysAnd Abraham lifted up his eyes And beheld him a ram caught in the thicket by the horns and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him in the place (stead ) of his son.And Abraham called the name of the place Jehovah-Jireh where it is still said unto this day on the Mount of the Lord it will be provided. In my opinion God provided Abraham with more than Just a ram that day he provided Abraham with solid tangible proof that God remains true to his word and that above all else Abraham did not misplace his trust and faith because God is a God of love and true to his word.
“Obedience is better than Sacrifice”.