Isaac was born as the promised child to Abraham when his father was one hundred years old and his mother ninety years old. God had remained faithful and true in His promise to bless Abraham with a son.
Years pass by without record, and then a great story is told – one so profound it is hard to wrap our minds around it. The father that loved his son so dearly was asked to sacrifice him. Does that sound like any other story you know?
Back in Isaac’s day – and all the way up until the time of Christ – blood sacrifices were needed to cover the sins of the people.
God started this example way back in the Garden of Eden when the first two humans sinned and covered themselves with leaves. Their covering wasn’t enough and so God killed an animal, blood was shed, and He covered their nakedness. It continues as a theme woven through scriptures that blood is needed for the forgiveness of sin and it ends when the Son of God, our Lord Jesus, shed His own blood once and forever for us.
God had given Abraham the promised son, and then God asked Abraham to give his son up as an offering. With human hearted grief and faith anchored firmly in the confidence that Isaac was promised son from whom future nations would come, he set off with Isaac.
Isaac traveled these long, tiring miles with his father to make this special burnt offering, the two of them traveling through dust and rocks with their needed supplies and two servants.
They started up a mountainside and as they climb higher Abraham asked the servants to stay put and father and son carry on, alone.
Isaac, being youthful and strong, carried the wood. His father the fire and knife.
“Father,” Isaac inquired in a thoughtful tone, “we have everything we need to make a sacrifice except for the animal for the burnt offering itself. Where is the lamb?” He knew what was required for a burnt offering. He had seen many offerings and knew his parents always did it the way God required.
With an assurance that came from intimacy with his God Abraham responded; “God Himself will provide the lamb.”
Higher and higher they climbed, carefully maneuvering over rough rocks as the sun beat down on them. Isaacs’s arms grew heavy under the weight of the wood.
Isaac knew his father was going where God had called him to go, and at last they reached that place. Carefully Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on top. The time had come.
The aged father tied together the wrists of the youthful son. Scratchy rope pulled tight around the wrists of Isaac, who was certainly capable of overthrowing his father and yet obediently submitted to his father’s obedience to God.
Isaac lay on the altar, innocent but also powerful enough to remove himself – bound by a love for his father. He watched as his father’s arm rose high, the sharp knife reflecting the evening glow of the sun.
In that moment the voice of the Lord called out;
“Abraham! Abraham! Do not hurt the boy! Don’t do anything to him! Now I know that you fear God because you haven’t tried to keep your only son from me.”
How do you think this father and son felt in that moment?
Isaac’s life was spared and Abraham sacrificed a ram whose horns had gotten tangled in the thicket.
Abraham had known God would provide the lamb, and He had.