Isaac heard someone chopping wood outside his tent when he awoke. He stretched and walk out to find his father cutting some dried branches.
“Why are you cutting wood, Abba? It’s too hot for us to need a fire that big.”
Abraham looked past his son to the two men approaching with a donkey. “Good, you’ve chosen well. That one will be the most cooperative. Secure this wood to his back we need to leave as soon as possible.”
“Where are you going? How long will you be gone?”
Abraham’s hand came to rest on Isaac’s shoulder. Isaac noticed the straight arm was parallel to the ground. “Good morning, my promised son.”
Isaac looked into bloodshot eyes. “Good morning, Abba.”
Abraham pulled him into a tight embrace and sobbed a few times. When he pulled back one arm stayed around Isaac’s shoulders and pulled him toward the well. “God has spoken to me. You and I have a difficult journey to take for Him. Do you trust me?”
“You know I do.”
“Good, you must learn to trust Him, too. Now, fill these skins with water for us. We’ll leave after we eat.”
Abraham retold the times God spoke to him during the next two days as they traveled north. When they crested a ridge Abraham stopped in mid-sentence and held up one hand. He turned and untied the wood from the donkey. “You two stay here. My son and I must worship God on that mountain ahead, alone. We’ll rejoin you here when we’re done.”
The two servants nodded as they watched Abraham tie the wood into one tight bundle and fashion a harness.
“Come, Isaac. You must carry the wood.”
Isaac knelt down as Abraham secured the ropes around him. Then, Abraham took the torch as he felt for the knife handle on his waist. He slung a skin of water over his shoulder.
Isaac broke the silence an hour later. “Abba…”
“Yes, my promised son.”
“I can see by the wood, knife and fire that we’re going to offer a burnt offering. But, where’s the lamb for this offering?”
Abraham stopped. As he looked at his son a tear rolled down his cheek. “God will provide Himself the lamb.” He resumed his cadence to fulfill the mission.
The steep grade to the top of the last hill felt strangely familiar to Isaac, even though he’d never been away from Beersheba.
When they came to the top Abraham looked around, then, he stuck the torch into a crack between two rocks. He took a drink of water before he untied the bundle of wood from his son. “You may rest over on that rock there. I will build the altar here.”
“Don’t you need my help? I’m a good worker.”
Abraham looked at his son. “I know you are, my promised one, but, I must do this myself.”
Isaac watched his father roll stones and fit them together for the base, then, place the wood he carried on them. He stood as Abraham approached.
Isaac looked around. “I still don’t see the lamb, Abba.”
Abraham placed his hands on Isaac’s shoulders. He looked up and searched the sky, then, looked back into Isaac’s eyes. “My promised son, God has told me to sacrifice you on this altar.”
Isaac squinted. “But, how can I carry on the family line if I’m dead?”
Abraham looked past his son. “Do you see all that is around us?”
Isaac looked at the mountains and trees. “Yes, its beautiful.”
“At one time this was nothing. Then, one day God spoke it all into existence from nothing. If He takes my promised son away from me He is able to bring you back to life. Do you believe this?”
Isaac looked into his father’s tear-filled eyes and nodded. “I will do as you say.”
As Isaac laid bound on the wood he watched his father walk over and pick up the knife. The sun reflected a bright light into his eyes. Then, he heard a voice.
Abraham stopped. “Yes, I’m here.”
“Don’t lay a hand on your son. Your faithful obedience has shown your fear of God above all else. For, indeed, you didn’t withhold your son from Me.”
Isaac looked behind his father. “Abba, look!”
Abraham turned and saw a ram caught by his horns in a tangle of bushes. He laughed as he untied Isaac. “We shall call this place Jehovah Jireh. Because, it’s on this mountain that God provided for us.”
This is one of the most perplexing portions of scripture in the entire Bible. I’ve even had some people tell me they can’t follow a God who would ask anybody to do this. I totally understand why.
So, why do I follow this God? Because of the context of the situation here. Many people see this as an extreme test of Abraham’s faith. Which it is.
What I hope I showed by seeing this experience through Isaac’s eyes is the fact that God became extremely real to the second generation of God’s chosen people. I have no doubt Abraham drilled into Isaac the fact he was a miracle child. Ninety-year-old women don’t survive a full-term pregnancy every day.
In order for the heavy responsibility of carrying on the legacy of being God’s elect Isaac needed a time when God took on pre-eminence in his life. This was that moment.
Has God become real in your life? He can, you know. This story also fore-shadowed the ultimate sacrifice that God did provide Himself for. Jesus was God becoming man so He could give His life as our replacement. Jesus was the only perfect sacrifice God could accept to fulfill His holy standard. The cross was His altar of atonement for us.
Jesus not only died, but, He came back to life as proof of His power over death. Those who accept this as real for them will be with God forever.
God will be very real to us, indeed.
I’ll see you later. Wade