Genesis 22:1-18 (NASB)
Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
Abraham had followed the Lord faithfully for his entire life, waiting for the birth of his promised child, who arrived when Abraham was 100 years of age. Can you imagine the intense love for that child, the answer to decades of prayer, the fulfillment of God’s promise?
But then, God put Abraham’s faith to the ultimate test: kill your child and burn him on an alter as a sacrifice to me.
Can you imagine the torment, the wrenching pain in Abraham’s soul as he wrestled with this command? Abraham lived among the Canaanites, where child sacrifice was part of their spring rituals. God had called Abraham out from these pagan practices and into communion with Him, the Creator of All things, many years before. I’m sure Abraham cried out to God with his torment, praying something like this -
Why would You do this to me, Lord? Why would You do this to Isaac!? He has done nothing wrong. Why would You take my promised son from me, and not only kill him, but burn him as a sacrifice...to You? Why would You require a human sacrifice, any human sacrifice, but specifically THIS human, whom you gifted me with after waiting and trusting you to honor your promise to me for so many years? Why would You promise that I would have a son and that my ‘seed would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens and as the sand on the seashore; and that my descendants will fill and bless the entire earth?’
Are you not truthful? Are you not the one True God? Do you renege our Your own promises and words? God, please take me, take my life, instead. I am an old man. Isaac has his entire life ahead of him... What will Sarah, his mother, say and do? Her faith has not been as strong as mine... and now you will kill her only child from her barren womb?...
And on and on.
For three long, agonizing days, Abraham, Isaac and two servants trekked north to the land of Moriah, where God’s altar was to be built.
Abraham had days to change his mind. He prayed heart wrenching prayers to save his son, for God to not put this cloak upon him. But through every anguished step, Abraham continued on, trusting God in full obedience, believing that someday, somehow, this would all make sense.
And, as most of us know the story, God prevailed. He prevented the sacrifice of Isaac and provided a ram caught in the thicket by its horns which was offered as a burnt offering in the place of his son.
This weekend, I saw the movie, “His Only Son,” by Angel Studios, the same producers of the series, “The Chosen.” At the beginning of the show, the creator of the movie told his personal story of how the film was made on a very small budget and over many years. It was well done and worth seeing more than once. You can watch the trailer here.
The movie was launched at the beginning of Easter week, as a reminder of God’s great sacrifice, giving His Only Son, as the ultimate and final sacrifice for us. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, He knew what was soon to come to pass. His Father knew what was going to take place. But no ram was in a thicket to be sacrificed in His place. It was Jesus’ blood that was shed for us all.
And as it is said in John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
As I watched the film in a nearly full theater, the story of not only Abraham’s faithfulness, but of God’s sacrifice for us, came alive.
Could you do it? Would you have enough faith to walk three days into the wilderness knowing the journey was to end by killing of one of your children as a sacrifice to God? Could you do it to prove your commitment to Him?
Similarly, God the Father stood by and not only watched, but allowed, His Only Son to go through the ripping of his flesh. He watched the murder of His child. In a second, Sodom and Gomorrah were snuffed out for their wickedness; the Father could have done the same thing to all those who participated in killing His son.
But He didn’t. That’s how much He loves us.
Could you do it? Would you be able to offer one of your children as a sacrifice to the Living God, as a testament of your belief, faith and commitment to God?
Would you have enough courage and restraint to watch as one of your children was beaten beyond recognition, nailed excruciatingly to a cross, stabbed in the side and then watch your child painfully suffocate to death in the scorching sun?
The story of Isaac is not only about Abraham’s unwavering faith and his willingness to sacrifice his son. It was a foreshadowing of God’s willingness to sacrifice His only son for us. When Abraham said, “God will provide the sacrifice,” it was prophetic in two ways:
the ram was provided to avoid the sacrifice of Isaac and
it foretold that God would provide the final sacrifice for us all.
This Palm Sunday, and as we go through all of the Christian remembrances this week represents, ending with His glorious resurrection next Sunday, make the story real. Embrace the pain, the suffering, the torture Jesus willingly endured as the final sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.
Yes, He loves you that much. And by putting your trust and faith in Jesus, the Father loves you equally as much.
Dear Heavenly Father, let the lesson of Abraham’s faith inspire us all. Help us to have confidence in You for every choice, every decision we make. Help us to lean in to You when the decisions are more than we can bear. We may not understand the test, the trials, the tribulations we have in front of us, but may we know unequivocally that You are with us every step of the way.
May we trust that You will supply both our needs and the strength to proceed. Help us to always hold an open and willing heart, with ears to hear and eyes to see. As we progress through this Holy Week, may be do each tasks with reverence and in remembrance of Your deep love for each of us. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen.
This post has such deep meaning to me, particularly in this season of my life.
For almost 20 years I have faithfully cared for my medically fragile daughter whom was given a max life expectancy of 3-5 years.
The JOY of being her mother has been the greatest gift of my life. But the agony of caring for a 100% dependent child in every way for that long has equally taken its toll.
The seizures, the surgeries, the sleepless nights, the sadness of “what could have been” mixed with the Joy of just seeing her live to see another day.
It’s almost more than a mamas heart can take.
I have two more daughters now, ages 6 & 7, and nothing can prepare you for “mothering” one child in the dusk of their life, and two in the dawn of theirs.
We find ourselves in the wildness like Abraham now as we fight for her life, but question why that has to include relentless suffering as her body breaks down.
Wanting her to run to the arms of Jesus, but clinging to her to remain and fight as long as possible.
Being raised a Christian has given me a compass and truth for which I am so so grateful.
But I still find myself shaking my fist at points screaming “why her” she is so innocent?
Why does she have to shake and scream from the seizures, she has done nothing wrong?
Why? Why? Why?
Then I am reminded of what Jesus endured, and also what his father had to endure on OUR BEHALF. It quickly humbles and quiets the noise, and I am reminded that this is the mere definition of FAITH.
Can I TRUST God is still good?
Can I BELIEVE his purposes are greater than her (and our) suffering?
Can I HOPE for things to come when today is dark as night?
My faith is no longer just words in a good book. It is the desperate cry for understanding when nothing makes sense.
And in my often restless heart, I hear the “still small voice” reminding me...
HIS heart breaks more than mine at her suffering.
HIS hands are holding her broken spirit even when I cannot see them.
HIS love is deeper and wider than I can even imagine.
HIS mercy is never ending.
So I CHOOSE to get up and keep on walking, KNOWING ONE DAY IT WILL ALL MAKE SENSE.
And in my heart, I know there will be many souls that will celebrate with us in heaven because of having met and been impacted by a little girl who NEVER SPOKE A WORD.
Praise be to God. I can rest in this PROMISE. 🤍
Thank you Dr.T for sharing that story, we all need to be reminded more often of our great GOD'S love for us, even Sacrificeing his own Son on our behalf, JESUS, no greater display of love has ever been shown to mankind, yes GOD loves us this is true.