Summary: Faith sees beyond the perplexities and difficulties of the present situation.
THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM
Sometimes in our Christian lives we are challenged to surrender to God that which we hold most dear, that upon which we set our hopes, even that which God has given to us as a gift.
God promised Abraham a son, but the patriarch’s wife Sarah was barren. So Abraham chose to have a son by his wife’s handmaiden, Hagar. However, miraculously, Abraham later had a son by his wife in their old age. Consequently, Abraham sent away the handmaiden and her son Ishmael. Then God stepped in, and called him to sacrifice his wife’s son, Isaac!
What a difficult test for any man to undertake. Yet Abraham had learned to obey God’s voice. His faith saw beyond the perplexities and difficulties of his present situation. It is part of our Christian obedience to recognise that all our relationships belong to God. This was Abraham’s experience. And because he passed this test, and because of God’s much greater sacrifice that underlies the truth of this history, we need never again be vexed with the question of human sacrifice.
God called “Abraham!” And he said to him, “Here I am.”
God said, “Take now your son.”
“Take your only son.”
But surely Abraham has two sons? We must remember that Ishmael had been disinherited, and sent away, and Abraham had no way of knowing if Ishmael was still alive. “Take your only son Isaac” - the son “whom you love.”
Jesus says, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).
So even in those natural bonds of life, whoever we love, we must love God more! This was the challenge to Abraham as he went to one of the mountains of Moriah, believing that God was telling him to sacrifice the son of God’s promise, upon whom he had set his hopes, and the hopes of mankind. Abraham was obedient. He saddled his donkey, and took two servants and his son towards the place that God had shown him.
We can imagine how heavy his heart was as he chopped some wood for the burnt offering. After three days’ journey he left the young men with the donkey - and made a wonderful proclamation of faith: “The lad and I will go yonder to worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). This is an amazing statement, and is perhaps the first indication of Abraham’s understanding of the situation.
We read in the New Testament: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son… concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
We must sympathise with young Isaac as the wood for the burnt offering was placed upon his shoulders. Ironically, his father carried the more dangerous elements necessary for the sacrifice: the knife and the fire.