What are some ways parents show love? They might give warm hugs, work hard to provide good things, plan fun trips, and buy treats! In Genesis 22, we read of a loving father, Abraham, and his son, Isaac. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had prayed for a child for many years, and, when God answered their prayer, they were delighted! Isaac grew into a strong boy, and his parents loved him so much.
One day, when Isaac was a teenager, God told Abraham to travel to a neighboring land, Moriah, and offer a sacrifice to Him. Sacrifices were often called “burnt offerings” where a lamb was burned on an altar – or table – to represent the sins of God’s people being taken away. Early the next morning, Abraham obeyed God’s command. He took Isaac, two servants, a donkey to carry their goods, and wood for the altar. They began their journey, which took them three days! As they came near Moriah, Abraham told his servants to stay at the bottom of the mountain while he and Isaac went up together to worship the Lord.
Abraham gave Isaac the wood to carry, and they also brought a knife to kill a lamb and supplies to build a fire. Do you think Isaac wondered why they had to travel so far to make a sacrifice or why he had to go with his father alone? Father and son began climbing the mountain when Isaac asked: “Father, we have wood for a fire but where is the lamb?” Abraham answered wisely: “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” How confused Isaac must have been. They had all the materials to build a fire for the burnt offering, but they hadn’t brought a lamb to sacrifice!
Once they reached God’s chosen place, Abraham made an altar, laid wood on top, and then he did something very strange: he took Isaac, tied him up, and laid him on the wooden altar. How frightening for Isaac! Was his father really going to kill him and make him the sacrifice instead of a lamb? Whatever was going through Isaac’s mind, he didn’t argue with his father nor did he try to run away. He obediently allowed himself to be bound and placed on the altar. How this reminds us of Jesus who obediently, without complaint, went to the cross for our sins. Imagine the tension as Abraham slowly raised his knife to plunge into Isaac. Just as he was about to kill his own, dear son, Abraham heard a voice from heaven. The angel of the Lord said, “Abraham… lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him.” An incredible thing happened next: Abraham looked around, and right behind him, a ram was caught by its horns in a bush. God had provided a sacrifice for Abraham to offer instead of his son, Isaac. This is another beautiful picture of Jesus Christ who became our Substitute, someone who takes the place of another person, on the cross when He gave His life for our sin.
As soon as Abraham sacrificed the ram, he called the place “Jehovah-jireh,” which means, “The Lord will provide.” How grateful he was to the Lord for sparing his son and for providing a sacrifice. Because Abraham willingly obeyed, God promised great blessing on him and his family and on all generations after him. What blessing comes with obeying God! God tested Abraham to see if he would truly obey His command. By being willing to sacrifice his beloved son, Abraham had proven himself an obedient, faithful servant of God. What a wonderful lesson for us. There are many people and things we love, but we should love Jesus more than all those, and we should obey Him fully. What are some things you need to give up in order to obey God? Are you willing to give up those things you love most to follow Him?