Isaac Offered Up
Open Your Bible
Genesis 22:1-24, Genesis 23:1-20, Isaiah 54:1, Hebrews 11:8-12
I really didn’t want to be assigned this passage. I’ve been a Christian most of my life, and still, when I read this passage about Isaac and Abraham walking up the mountain, I simply want to throw my Bible across the room. Why in the world would God ask Abraham to do this?
There are a host of things that God asks His people to do—things that, without faith and understanding of context surrounding these passages, seem really wild. Earlier in Genesis, God asked Abraham to circumcise every man in his household, even his servants. Today, Christians are asked to live in obedience to a lot of biblical commands which make no sense to the world and its culture today. We’re asked not to have sex outside of marriage. We’re asked to think of others as better than ourselves. We’re asked to go out of our way to give to and love others—even our enemies. These commands might seem obvious if you’ve been in church for a long time. But outside of the lens of faith, they really make no sense at all. Only God can give us the strength and faith needed to obey Him.
And so, I’m left to believe that God must have given Abraham the strength and faith to obey even this—this seemingly insane command. Why would God have Abraham sacrifice this child, who he and Sarah had waited and longed for throughout the course of their lives? Why this child of the promise? If you remember Genesis chapter 21, you’ll recall that Abraham had just sent his other child, Ishmael, away. So now, if he were to go through with the sacrifice of Isaac, he would have no children at all.
But Abraham trusted God. He trusted that God was good. Abraham had learned that obedience to God brings greater blessing than pain. So, if God was asking him to surrender to something painful—something as horrific as losing his only son—then there must be an even more abundant blessing on the other side.
I’m not sure I would have had the faith to walk up that mountain. But because Abraham obeyed, we now get to witness, through Scripture, the first example of substitutionary sacrifice, as God provides a ram in the thicket. Do you know who else walked up a mountain that led directly to an inconceivable sacrifice? Jesus.
Only when Jesus walked to Calvary, when the Roman guard slammed hammer into steel, through flesh, there was no ram in the thicket (Genesis 22:13). Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, became God’s autobiography on earth. And God’s nature is not punitive—it is sacrificial. Jesus willingly obeyed the Father to the point of death—even to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). And because of His supernatural, unexplainable, indescribable obedience, we now have peace with God. Thanks be to God for obedience and the peace that comes with it—things that we may not be able to understand, but can only pray to the strength and faith to emulate.