Because I do not believe God, because I do not search the thicket expectantly for the ram caught by its horns (Gen 22:13), because my faith is small, I do not sacrifice as I should. There is within me, within us, a nagging suspicion which makes us hesitate, makes us wary of risking it all.
And perhaps that is why God did not ask of Abraham an animal or some grain as sacrifice. Perhaps that is why God did not stop Abraham on the way to the mountain and why He did not keep him from laying Isaac on the alter. Perhaps that is why it was the moment before the knife descended, or as it descended, that God’s word of remembrance came through. “Abraham!”
For this committed saint and devoted father, it must have been as much a shock to be interrupted in his devotion as it was to be told to sacrifice the son he so loved. But, Abraham believed God!
On that day two faiths were tested, two lives were at stake, and two generations of devotion birthed. The death of the son would have killed the father. The father trusted God while the son trusted his father.
Isaac spoke up and said to Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Sometimes I sense that I am being called to sacrifice and at other times I sense I am being called — to sacrifice. Sometimes I hold the knife at the throat of the things I treasure most and pray that, strength not failing, I can make the cut. At other times I sense that I am being bound and dare not struggle, lifted and dare not cry, cut and dare only trust.
Since, like Isaac, questions and doubts plague me, Abraham must say to me the way he reassured his son Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Gen. 22:8). Sometimes we will go to the thicket, and there, find the sacrifice. Sometimes His hand will stay the knife just before its fatal descent. Sometimes He will arrive in the nick of time and rescue us, and for this, we will praise Him. At other times, WE will be the sacrifice. In either case, may it be said of me, may it be said of you, as it was said of Isaac and his Father.
“And the two of them went on together.” Towards whatever end.
When our story gets handed down, may it read, that we believed God and lived.
Gen 22, John 15:2