“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He had received the promises, yet he was ready to offer up his only son. God had told him, ‘Through Isaac descendants will carry on your name,’ and he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead, and in a sense he received him back from there” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
Abraham’s faithful response to Isaac’s would-be sacrifice in Genesis 22:1-19 is worthy of a closer look.
First, we should notice the way God issued His directive regarding Isaac’s sacrifice in Genesis 22:2. That portion of Scripture quotes God’s decree as follows: “…Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering…” Those phrases seems purposely designed to highlight the emotional cost to Abraham in fulfilling God’s commandment.
We should also consider what that sacrifice involved. First, Abraham had to pack for a trip that would end with the death of his son. Next, he personally split the firewood that he would use to present his beloved son as a burnt offering. Finally, we should note that God’s command did not permit Abraham to execute his son quickly. Instead, the travel time associated with God’s directive provided three long days for Abraham to think it over (see Genesis 22:3-4).
If that wasn’t enough, Isaac began to question what was taking place…
“…As they walked along together, Isaac spoke up, ‘Father!’ He answered, ‘Yes, my son?’ Isaac asked, ‘I see that you have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?'” (Genesis 22:6-7 GW).
Isaac’s question should prompt us to meditate upon the human element that underlies this drama. For instance, consider how any loving parent in Abraham’s position might feel if confronted with a similar question. This makes Abraham’s response highly instructive, for he did not become emotionally distraught or angered in his reply to Isaac. He did not disparage God, lament his fate, or deny the reality of the situation. Instead, Abraham responded in a faithful, God-honoring manner…
“Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ Then the two of them walked on together” (Genesis 22:8 HCSB).
While Abraham’s response served to reflect his deep and abiding faith in God, the inspired author of Hebrews also provides us with a glimpse into his internal thought process as well: “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead” (NLT).