one of the most famous stories in the Bible is the story of abraham offering isaac… but let me take a few minutes to point out some interesting things from this story that stand out to me…
i’m sure you’re familiar with the story… abraham had been promised generations that would number as many as the stars in the sky… all of these were to come from the one son that he had miraculously been given: isaac. his wife, sarah, gave birth to isaac when she was far past child-bearing years. isaac was the promised child. he was the prophecy fulfilled. he was the joy of sarah, the hope of abraham.
then, one day, God speaks to abraham. “take your son, your only son, isaac, and go to the land of moriah – sacrifice him there as a burnt offering.” (genesis 22:2) what sounds totally absurd, and even cruel, abraham responds to with immediate obedience.
he takes isaac on the greatest journey of faith – they travel to the region of moriah, to the mountain God showed him. once they got close, abraham said to the servants, “stay here with the donkeys. the boy and i are going over there to WORSHIP…” (gen.22:5)
first thing to note: this is the first time the word “worship” is mentioned in the Bible. it’s not related to music, singing, a band, lyrics, dance… none of the that. the first time worship is mentioned, it’s referring to obedience, sacrifice, trust, total faith. WOW!!!
when isaac and abraham are walking up the mountain, isaac says, “dad, we’ve got the wood and the flint… but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” (gen. 22:7 paraphrased)
second thing to note: isaac was abraham’s flesh and blood – his offspring. when you are on the path to obedience, many times your flesh will speak up and start pointing out what is missing… or try to talk you out of what you’re going to do. i don’t think isaac was intentionally doing that (to be honest, though scripture doesn’t say, i don’t think isaac knew what was coming… he was just making observations). still, the point is… this was a dad going to sacrifice his child – and on the way up, his beloved son spoke up and pointed out the very thing that was breaking his heart – there was no sheep. isaac was to be the sheep. how tempting it must have been for abraham to just turn around and forget what God had said.
once they got to the place God showed abraham, he prepared the altar, laid out the wood, and then tied up isaac and laid him on the wood. again, the Scripture does not go into much detail here, but i absolutely cannot imagine a young boy eagerly and happily laying on the altar of his own death. even if he was submitted and willing to obey, you know there must have been fear, tears, amazing conflict to trust. imagine what it must’ve been like for abraham – looking down at his beautiful son, seeing the struggle in isaac’s eyes to trust that his father know’s what he’s doing…perhaps doubting abraham’s love, maybe crying out, maybe struggling against his father… oh my gosh, it must’ve been such an emotional moment for them both. for abraham, having to fight his will and his understanding and his reasoning – struggling with submission in the moment of sacrifice.
and at the greatest moment of the test, the climax of conflict between his spirit and soul, when abraham raised the knife to slay isaac….
“just then an angel of God called to him out of heaven, ‘abraham! abraham!’ ‘yes, i’m listening.'” – genesis 22:11
third thing to note: in the most emotional, stressful, challenging moment of his life, abraham was still able to hear God’s voice. he didn’t let his emotions override the moment… he was still sensitive, still listening, still attentive… he heard the “now word” of God.
if abraham had gotten swept away by the feelings of the moment, he would’ve missed out on what God was saying…
he would have killed what God intended for him to keep.
i want to challenge you today – what is God saying to you NOW?? abraham WAS indeed walking in obedience to what God had said… but he was also tuned to the fresh word, the “now” word. are you? are you letting the emotions, the sacrifice, the pain, the questions, the frustration override your choice to listen to God? what is He telling you to do? listen out for what He’s saying… over every voice of fear, doubt, anxiety, hurt… listen for the voice of God!!