We face trials everyday. Trials of temptation. Trials that test our faith in God. God’s trial for Abraham in this chapter is one to further prove and reveal Abraham’s faith, not to draw him into sin as Satan would. God tests us too.
It could have been simple, like every other sacrifice. Abraham was wealthy and probably had many qualified lambs to give. But “strong faith is often exercised with strong trials, and put upon hard services” (Matthew Henry). Abraham was called by God to offer up his son. God even clarifies: Abraham’s only son. In Genesis 21, Ishmael (son of Abraham and his bondswoman, Hagar) was sent away after scoffing Isaac, the son of Abraham born by promise not by flesh.
How can we relate to this today? Abraham was specifically called with a special purpose for this event directly by God. Today, God speaks to us through His Word. We too should act in obedience of His Words to us. This story is in the Bible for us to demonstrate obedience no matter how difficult the task may be.
To add to the difficulty of this test, it was in complete contradiction to what God had promised Abraham – many nations through a son, Isaac! And for the cherry on top, God had Abraham journey three days to make the sacrifice. But Abraham had faith in the Promiser.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” – Hebrews 11:17-19
“And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.” – James 2:23
Abraham had faith God would do something, even something as supernatural as bringing Isaac back from the dead. He even had enough faith to tell the men traveling with them that both him and Isaac would be back. Isaac, through obedience, shows his faith by laying down on the altar willingly. Near the region of Moriah would become Calvary, where Christ died for our sins. God’s intentions were never to actually let Abraham sacrifice his only son God promised him. God will provide His own lamb for a sacrifice for our sins. He still required Abraham to sacrifice a lamb. Now, God has given His one and only Son as the ultimate sacrifice for us. The place was named “The Lord will provide.” Perhaps Abraham knew that one day the Lord would provide Christ, His Son, as the ultimate sacrifice. There are many more parallels between Isaac and Jesus:
- “Take your son, your only son, Isaac” (v. 2); “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16)
- “Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (v. 2); “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
- “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac” (v. 6); Jesus, “carrying his own cross. . .” (John 19:17).
- “But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (v. 7); John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
God again blesses Abraham and reaffirms His promise.