After many years of waiting, God gave Abraham and Sarah a son of their own, Isaac. Then, when the boy was a young man, maybe 13 or 14, or possibly in his early twenties, God put Abraham to the ultimate test:
“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2)
Scripture says nothing of the personal anguish Abraham must have felt. There is also no record of Abraham balking at the request. Perhaps because it never happened. If it were me, there would probably have been an entire chapter filled with my protests! “God, this makes no sense! He’s my only child! And since when do you do human sacrifices!?”
Abraham does none of that. He simply trusts and obeys.
As instructed, Abraham arrives with his son at the appointed place. The Bible says it was a three-day journey (Genesis 22:4). Again if it were me, it would have been three days of complaining to God. Most likely, it would have been a day and a half of going to the place, then a day and a half of going home and not following through because by then I would have convinced myself that God had made a mistake.
Abraham is silent, resolute, unwavering.
Like Christ on His way to Jerusalem to be crucified (Luke 9:51), he moved steadfastly to his destination. Then he says something incredible: “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” (Genesis 22:5) Then he and his son Isaac head up the mountain with Isaac bearing the wood, the instrument of his own destruction, just like Christ bearing His cross.
Having seen has father build altars and make sacrifices before, Isaac knew the routine and asked the obvious question: “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7)
To this, Abraham makes another incredible statement: “…My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” (Genesis 22:8)
What is impressive in this short conversation is the unbelievable calm. Again, if it were me, and my son had asked me that on our way to the sacrifice (if we had made it that far), my stress over the whole situation would have come out in my tone, and my words would have been sharp and impatient: “That’s a stupid question, son! Just keep walking!”
There’s none of that in Abraham. Just quiet confidence and it translates to his son as well.
We know how the account ends. Just as Abraham raises the knife to sacrifice his son, God calls out: “…And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.” (Genesis 22:11)
“And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” (Genesis 22:12)
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” (Genesis 22:13)
In response to God’s provision of a sacrifice, Abraham names the place “Jehovahjireh,” the LORD will see. The way Abraham understood his God is what got him through this terrible trial. For most of us, when we go through crisis, we see it as ourselves alone and God has no clue about our circumstances, or worse yet, we see it as ourselves alone and God is against us.
Abraham knew his God well enough to know that God would indeed provide a sacrifice, and more importantly, he knew his God was keenly aware of his situation.
To all of this, Scripture adds something even more incredible regarding Abraham’s understanding of his God. He accounted that God was able to raise his son up, even from the dead! (Hebrews 11:19)
What Abraham named the place of sacrifice tells us everything we need to know about the calm that Abraham had, his quiet confidence and his unwavering obedience: He knew his God was with him the whole time.
We serve that same God. Whatever trial we are going through right now we can know that God is there with us.