Genesis 22:2, 6-13
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.”
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,7 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?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 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 and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “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.”
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.14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
This is a difficult story. We feel the pain in Abraham, his resolve and reserve, going up the mountain in obedience to God, taking his only son as a sacrifice. How could he tell his son what God had asked him to do? By faith he could only reply, “God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Was this his fervent, silent prayer as they ascended the mountain? “God, here I am, but please show me what is right in this situation! I will do as you ask, but I pray there is another way.”
Isn’t this what Jesus prayed as well? “Father, if it be your will, take this cup away from me, yet not my will but yours be done.” Deliver me from the cross, from the agony of crucifixion, from the shame to my mother, and the loss of all that has been accomplished in ministry in three years. Yet not my will but yours be done.
By faith, Abraham kept walking, allowing his son to carry the wood that would be fuel to burn Isaac’s body in sacrifice. The same agony of spirit that Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane surely was Abraham’s as well. No loving father wished to sacrifice his son, not Abraham, not God. God rescued Isaac and pointed Abraham to the ram whose horns were caught in a thicket. God did not rescue Jesus, but through Jesus, God rescued us.
Loving God, how could you sacrifice your only son for us? How could you let him suffer? What agony you must have suffered! We praise you for the example of faith in Abraham; we praise you for Jesus, who consented to carry our sins upon the cross. Such love and sacrifice, given for us. Let me give you my love today in return. Amen.