With each swing of the stone ax Abraham’s thoughts worked out God’s latest request of him. “These last forty years…” Whack “have been the most remarkable…” Chop “years of my life.” Snap “But, I didn’t think El Shaddai…” Whack “was a god of child sacrifices.” Crack “I don’t see how Isaac…” Thwack “can be my legacy…” Crunch “if I kill him now.” Whack “I know God gave us…” Chop “his life from a dead womb.”
The next thought made Abraham stop the ax in mid-air. The voice behind him made his neck hairs stand on end.
“Why are you cutting wood, Abba? It’s too hot for us to need a fire that big.”
Abraham turned and looked past his son to 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. Abraham noticed his straight arm was parallel to the ground. “Good morning, my promised son.”
Isaac looked into his 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 three 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 Abraham, even though he’d never been here before.
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.”
After Abraham bound Isaac on the wood he walked 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 the entire Bible. I’ve had 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.
I’m confident Abraham and Sarah’s heir of their family tree was so anticipated by them that he likely became the most important part of their lives.
It would be quite a few generations later that God would tell His people to have “no other gods before me.”
Yeah, some people put their children before God in their priorities.
God is too jealous to allow anyone to take the throne He deserves.
Priority check time: What, or who, is in the number one spot in your life? Are you struggling to keep the home of your dreams? Is your ultimate job hanging in the balance? Is a wayward child or spouse keeping you awake at night?
Give them to God. He can bring them back to life when He’s number one.
I’ll see you later. Wade