Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Abraham and Isaac

Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out lor the place God had told him about” (Genesis 22:3).

There are many dimensions to the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. Most Christians are familiar with this story and rightly see in it that all men and their sons are under God’s death penalty for sin. God, however, makes a way for men to avoid His sentence of death by providing a substitute, a ram in the place of Isaac. By implication, Christians see that God sent His own beloved only Son in the place of Abraham’s beloved only son (Genesis 22:2).

Today let us focus attention on the human dynamics of this story. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in his book Fear and Trembling asks why Abraham arose early in the morning to carry out this task. Surely any normal human being would be reluctant to kill his beloved child, and it is hardly realistic to say that Abraham burst from his bed full of joy and happiness at the thought of the privilege of obeying God on this occasion. Kierkegaard concludes that Abraham got up early because in his anxiety he could not sleep.

Abraham chopped the wood himself instead of having a servant do it. He was working off steam and tension, every violent stroke of the ax squeezing out tears from his eyes. Finally, Abraham got himself into a frame of mind in which he could carry out God’s awful order. On the way up the mountain, Isaac asked Abraham where the sacrifice was. “We have wood and fire and knife,” he said, “but where’s the lamb?” At that moment the knife was in Abraham’s heart.

And what about Isaac? He was no small boy, but a young man old enough to carry the wood on his shoulders up the mountain. He soon figured out what was going on, yet instead of fighting off his father and running away, as he surely could have done, he allowed himself to be tied to the altar. What was going on in his heart as his own beloved father raised the knife to kill him?

The Son of Man could have bypassed His death. He too was bound, tied to a tree. He watched as His Father in heaven raised His knife at Calvary. In that instance, no angel commanded God to stop. That sacrifice was finished; Jesus was our sacrifice which the Lord provided.

Abraham demonstrated true courage, acting in the face of real fear. Without fear, there is no courage. The true Christian is called not to have no fears, but to be faithful in the face of those fears. As you face difficult tasks in your life do not hide your fear; rather, be encouraged by the Spirit.