The father placed a bundle of wood on the boy’s back while he carried the fire and a knife, and together they set off for the top of the mountain.
“Father,” said the boy as they made their way up a winding trail. “The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:7-8)
It was the only hope Abraham could cling to. He had been commanded by God to go offer his only son — the one he loved more than anything on earth — as a burnt offering to the Lord. What? You’re kidding me. That’s impossible. How could anyone even think of such a thing?
Not only was it the son he loved, it was the son of the promise — the one given to him and his wife as a miracle, way past her childbearing years. In fact, it was the knowledge of that promise that drove the father on. He believed. He knew that whatever happened on that mountain, he and Isaac would be coming back down together. His faith was that strong. He wasn’t bluffing. When he tied his son up, laid him on the wood and raised the knife, he wasn’t expecting God to stop him. He was expecting to run him through, because Hebrews 11 says he believed that God could and would raise him from the dead. After all, it was God’s promise, not his. That’s why he told his servants they would both be back. Still, it must have been the hardest thing Abraham ever did.
Imagine what was running through Isaac’s mind as his father tied him up and laid him on a pile of wood. Did he resist? Did he trust? What did Abraham tell him? Was he completely bewildered?
I believe our walk with God takes us through all these stages. At any given time, we have the potential of feeling all these things. At no point do our feelings indicate that we don’t believe. They merely indicate that we are human. Our faith is what holds it all together.
Imagine the joy with which they both came down the hill that day — the boy skipping ahead and then running back to his slower-moving father, pulling on his arm to move faster, and the father plodding along with a lighter load and an even lighter heart. He had given up his son and received him back. God had provided the lamb, and God has provided a lamb for you and for me. Jesus is the Lamb of God who has taken away our sin. (John 1:29)