Shockingly, God told Abraham to take Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Trusting and obedient, Abraham saddled his donkey, took two servants and the boy, and headed for the spot God told him about. I have no doubt that Abraham did not forget what God had told him years before, when Ishmael was sent away, that Abraham’s offspring would be reckoned through Isaac. I’m sure he didn’t expect to really sacrifice him.
When they saw the right spot in the distance Abraham told his servants to wait while he and Isaac went on. He told the servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Even with the wood chopped and ready Abraham says we will come back. Trust. And Isaac must have picked up on that trust and assurance.
They had a conversation.
“Yes, my son.”
“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
Then Abraham built an altar, bound Isaac, laid him on top of the wood, and picked up the knife. I am sure that Isaac trusted his father the same as Abraham trusted God. There is no mention of a struggle or crying. The angel of the Lord called out to Abraham and stopped the action, yes, right at the last second (this is the original plot device of having the clock tick to the last possible moment). In a thicket nearby was a ram, caught by its horns. That animal became the sacrifice instead of Isaac.
Did Isaac learn anything else from this? Absolutely. He learned to fear God. This expression of fearing God does not mean we are to be afraid or terrified of our Heavenly Father, but rather to be in awe of, respectful of, and in complete submission to Him. Read the passage in Genesis 22 and you’ll see that the angel of the Lord makes the statement that now God knows that Abraham fears him because he did not withhold even his only son from God. What a great lesson for Isaac to learn as a teen. This shaped the rest of his life most certainly.
Now we’ve seen two half-brothers, Ishmael and Isaac, and examined their characters a bit. How very different they were from one another. Ishmael – a donkey of a man, mocking, and disliked by all. Isaac – trusting and obedient.(next Saturday: Rebekah)