In Genesis 22:12 we read: “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
I’ve often marvelled at the faithfulness of Abraham.
Here’s a man who has waited for decades to have a son with his beloved wife, Sarah. Also, God has promised him that he will have a posterity so great that they can’t be numbered, just like the sands on the seashore.
God fulfils his promises to Abraham in the birth of Isaac. At the time of this part of the account, i.e. Genesis 22, we don’t know a lot about Isaac but it is generally regarded that Isaac would have been about the age of 30 when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
Imagine that, Isaac, an adult male, who could have stopped what was about to happen, allowed his father to go ahead with the sacrifice.
I marvel at the both of these men.
I marvel how faithful God was to Abraham. How much trust Abraham must have had in God to go ahead with this sacrifice despite the great love he would have had for his son.
I too have sons. The thought of having to tell one of them that God has asked me to sacrifice them, and then preparing to do that… it really breaks my heart.
It reminds me of one of the most traumatic events which involved my children. When my first wife and I separated, I remember seeing the look on my 5 year-old son’s face when he realised what was happening. That look of sadness still haunts me today. I get emotional just thinking about it, like right now as I write this.
Besides Abraham, I also marvel at how much faith Isaac must have had in his father to believe that he had been commanded of God to offer him up as a sacrifice. I marvel at his willingness to be sacrificed. This one act says so much about his character.
I wonder too, how much Sarah knew about this whole affair. Did Abraham tell her what God had commanded him to do before he and Isaac left? How did she feel about it? How difficult would it have been for Abraham to try to explain this to his wife, and how did affect their relationship at that time?
If I had to tell my wife that God had commanded me to sacrifice one of our sons, I don’t think she would take it too well! Would she trust that I had received such a revelation? Would she allow me to leave with our son? Even though she might, I can guarantee you that both our minds would be full of doubts and heartache.
The scriptural account in Genesis only gives us a brief overview of the events, but there are so many intricate details we are left to imagine for ourselves. I like to think about these kinds of details; the everyday feelings and events which Abraham, Sarah and Isaac must have gone through. Doing this helps me to have a better appreciation of what happened.
Because we are familiar with the story, and know that it ends well, sometimes we don’t think about what they must have had to wrestle with as they went through the ordeal.
Life is like that for us too.
While we believe that there is a heaven, and that God is just and will make everything right in the end, it doesn’t stop us from feeling sadness, pain and from having doubts.
Abraham was blessed of God to be the ‘father of the faithful’. It’s no wonder to me that he was given this great honor. Abraham truly did love God and fear Him above all else. Because of this, Abraham is the perfect example to us of the type of people we should be who want to follow God and keep his commandments.
Yes, Jesus Christ is our ultimate example, but I think we can relate better to faithful people, like Abraham, because Abraham was born of earthly parents, and is imperfect, just like we are.