“Abraham’s Faith Goes Through the Proving Trail” – Genesis 22:1-24
“’God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son’, Abraham answered and they both walked on together.” (Genesis 22:8; NLT)
God kept his promise. Beyond all logic; Abraham was 100 and his wife, Sarah was 90 when she gave birth to, and nursed her son, Isaac. His name means laughter. In the wildness of God, even in old age; Sarah was so beautiful that two different kings desired her. Her figure stayed firm and her skin soft and smooth. According to the traditions of the time, she may have breastfed her child from 3-5 years. When she weaned him, Abraham threw a celebration party.
Now Isaac is about 12 years old. They are about to leave the two servants at the foot of the mountain to watch the donkeys. Abraham piles the firewood on his son’s shoulders. Abraham tells the servants, “My son and I are going up to worship on that mountain. Then we will return and meet you here.”
The day before this, God had told Abraham, “I want you to take your son Isaac, yes, the son you love so much, take him up to the mountain I show you, and sacrifice him to me.” Thus began Abraham’s proving trail. Every step he took toward that mountain was a step of obedience.
Suddenly, Abraham’s thoughts are interrupted by Isaac’s questioning voice; “Dad, here’s the wood and the fire, but where is the sacrifice?” Abraham’s heart drops down to the knots already in his stomach. Dad answers his son; “God himself will provide the sacrifice.” Hebrews 11:19 says; “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again ….”
The climb up the mountain is silent. Each lost in their private thoughts. The stone altar is built, the firewood placed on it. By this time his father times him up and places him on the altar; it is obvious Isaac is the sacrifice. We can only imagine what is going through both their minds. Abraham raises the knife to plunge it into his son’s heart when a voice shatters the silence, “Abraham”. The arm freezes in mid–swing as Abraham answers; “Here I am, I’m listening. ‘I don’t want you to kill your son. It was only a test to see how much you trust me and love me’.”
Then Abraham heard the bleat of a sheep and there just up the knoll was a ram caught by his horns. Isaac is released, the Ram takes his place.
God then renews his covenant with Abraham through Isaac. After this and down through the centuries, Abraham would be known as a friend of God and the father of all who walk by faith.
Lord, Help us to be more like Abraham; to obey you and trust you even when it does not make sense and we are afraid.
The Rev. Stephen C. Floyd, First Church of the Nazarene