God promised to make Abram/Abraham a father of many nations. He told him that he and his wife, Sarai, would have a son together. A great deal of time went on, and Sarai, eventually named Sarah, obviously began to feel like it might not come to pass after all. Maybe God was only speaking to Abraham, specifically, and maybe he was to have this promised child with another woman instead?
How many of us can relate? How many times have we heard from God, or read a precious promise from His Word, but later become so burdened down that we think it might not be for us after? If you’re anything like me, it’s happened more than once! But praise God, His Word will always stand, and will accomplish exactly what it was set out to accomplish. It never returns void.
Sarah became so convinced of this idea that she had no part in the promise, that she handed over her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham. The result was a son named Ishmael, and you can read all about him in the book of Genesis and beyond.
Not the Promise
However, this was not God’s plan. Ishmael was NOT the promised son. It would not be through his line that Abraham’s descendants would come. Because Ishmael belonged to Abraham, God was faithful in blessing him as well, but it was Isaac that God had ordained, long before his birth.
Abraham knew that. In spite of all that had transpired over the fourteen years between Ishmael’s birth and Isaac’s arrival, he knew that God’s Word was true. It was settled in his mind, I believe, with such a ferocity, it simply couldn’t be broke.
But how do I know that?
It starts in Genesis Chapter 22…
1) And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2) And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3) So Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told them.
4) Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
You may notice a few things right off the bat. First, is that God calls Isaac Abraham’s “only son”. It’s not that he doesn’t acknowledge Ishmael, but it is Isaac whom He Himself had promised to Abraham and Sarah. And so this was the child of the promise.
The next thing you might notice is that Abraham got up bright and early the next morning to do exactly as God had instructed him. It seems cold and unfeeling, doesn’t it? To be so quick and ready to kill your only, promised child?
He didn’t argue or ask why. He just did it.
Now the Sacrifice
I thought and prayed about this for a long time when I first read it, wondering these things and many more as well. Then I realized, Abraham probably put a lot of thought into the entire ordeal. I’m sure it wasn’t something he readily dove into without thinking about Who it was that was doing the asking!
I imagine that three day journey filled Abraham’s head and heart with lots of thoughts, don’t you? He had been rolling God’s promises over in his mind the whole trip. He had undoubtedly thought back to the many times God had come through for him, to the promises that God had made concerning the promised child, and the promise God had made that THROUGH THIS CHILD his descendants would outnumber the sands of the sea!
He BELIEVED GOD!! He knew, that even to the point of raising Isaac from the dead, Isaac would live and not die, so all he had to do was whatever God told him to, because God wouldn’t go back on His Word. Even when Isaac caught on to the way things were going, in Genesis 22:7-8…
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father; and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Taking his thought process a step further, Abraham goes on to SPEAK IN FAITH, when he said that God would provide a lamb for the burnt offering…for Himself. And after building an altar, laying the wood on it, and then binding Isaac and laying him on it, the angel of the Lord stopped him.
Then, sure enough, there was a ram caught by the horns in a thicket behind them. God HAD provided a lamb! Abraham didn’t know HOW, when everything got started, but he knew God’s Word was true and established. He knew, trusted, and then spoke in faith!
Abraham called that place, where God had called him and tried his faith, “Jehovah Jireh”, which means, “Jehovah will provide”. In fact, it is still called that to this very day, there in the land of Moriah.
Aren’t you glad that Abraham looked beyond that sacrifice?