Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Genesis 22:2
Can we even begin to imagine the pain that Abraham experienced when God ordered him to take this child and offer him as a burnt offering? Isaac was the child of promise who had been born to Sarah and Abraham when they were long past the time of parenting. He had been given after years of yearning and trusting, and now the One who had given the gift was asking that Isaac be given back.
The text does not recount the angst and suffering Abraham must have felt when he heard this somber command. We do not know, but we can speculate. Even so, Genesis 22:3 tells us that early the next morning Abraham began the journey up the mountain. He didn’t procrastinate. He obeyed in trust. Not knowing what God would do, he trusted. Even when Isaac asked him where the lamb was, Abraham trusted.
At the summit of the mountain, Abraham made an altar, placed the wood on it, tied up his precious son, and laid him in place. Just as he was about to perform the final act of obedience, God stopped him. One writer said that, had Abraham not known God as intimately as he did, he would have said the voice he heard was that of Satan. But Abraham knew and stopped. He had passed the test, and GOD PROVIDED the lamb.
I heard of a family that quarreled and allowed their differences to divide them. When the matriarch of the family died, one of the sons wanted to erect a headstone, but the others aligned themselves against him. He grieved at the lack of unity and respect until he spoke with his parish priest. The wise man prayed with him, asking him to give his pain and expectations to the Lord. The priest counseled him to abandon his desire to place the headstone on his mother’s grave and to instead honor his mother by affecting reconciliation within the family. He surmised that that would be a greater memorial than a headstone. At peace, the son obeyed and succeeded.
Even when we set out to do God’s will, there may be unknown factors that change our plans. Abraham trusted God when he set out to climb the mountain; the grieving son trusted God when he abandoned his plans. In both instances, God was faithful and was glorified. Can we trust him to do the same with our changed plans?
Loving Father, we are so often certain that we are following you whole-heartedly when there comes an obstacle to our obedience. Help us to trust you even when we do not understand. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
Please pray as I accompany a team today on a mission to another country. I will not be posting on Thursday. God bless you and thanks.