Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.Genesis 22:9(NASB)
From the day the Lord called Abraham to leave his family and his hometown of Ur and go and settle in a distant land that God promised to give him as an inheritance, to the day he obeyed His command to take his beloved son to a particular mountain and offer him to the Lord as a burnt offering, Abraham's faith in God was sorely tested in many ways.
With each successive test of faith, the trial presented different challenges, and each time the trial became increasingly intense. Having been called to leave all he knew behind him, Abraham was then required to live among the wicked Canaanites, as an alien in a foreign land.
A day arrived when He was required to trust God to provide for all his needs during a terrible time of famine, instead of placing his hope in his Egyptian neighbours. He was also tested when he parted company with his nephew Lot and found it necessary to rescue him from a fierce enemy, when Lot, his family, and the entire city of Sodom, were carried away into slavery.
Abraham's faith was severely tested when he had to wait for 25 years for his 'son of promise' to be born to his elderly, barren wife. It was, similarly, a great test of faith when he had to send Ishmael, his 13-year-old 'son of the flesh' far away. At times, his faith grew weak, and at times, he did not understand, but through it all he discovered that God is always faithful and His promises are always sure.
The day finally arrived when Abraham's faith was tested in the extreme, for the Lord called his servant to: "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering, on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."
The trials and testings through which God's servants are often allowed to pass are very precious to our Heavenly Father, for they produce endurance, steadfastness, patience, and a strengthened faith. The man who maintains an unshakable trust in God's Word, in spite of life's circumstances, and when human logic screams the opposite, gives honour and glory to our Father in heaven, and will prove to be praiseworthy and honourable when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
The sacrificial offering of his beloved son through whom God's promised Seed was to be born, was the ultimate challenge to Abraham's faith, and yet he did not falter in his resolve to obey the Lord and trust in Him, even though he did not understand. Rising up early in the morning, they set out together to the appointed place: "When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He then bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood."
Because Abraham demonstrated His utter trust in the Lord through the actions he took and the inner resolve of his heart, God, in His grace, prevented Abraham from slaying Isaac by providing an alternative sacrifice. But God used it as an illustration of His own beloved Son, Whom He would send to be a sweet-smelling burnt offering before the Lord, and the one-and-only sacrificial offering to pay the price for the sin of the whole world.
Abraham believed God when He told him that through Isaac His redemptive plan would be fulfilled, and the old man's faith had become so secure that he believed, without question, that God would raise Isaac back to life. Abraham may have enrolled in 'the school of faith' when he left Ur and was justified at the age of 75, but he demonstrated that secure, sanctified faith which had matured and developed over time and through various tests, when he took his son Isaac to the place about which God told him and built an altar, arranged the wood, bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
The incredible picture that Abraham painted as he obeyed God's command to offer up his only son, was one that would take place hundreds of years later when Jesus, the only Son of the Father, would walk to the mountain upon which He was to be sacrificed. Just as Isaac carried the wood for the offering and Abraham built the alter, so a wooden cross was laid upon Christ as He walked to mount Calvary, the place appointed by the Father to sacrifice the Lamb of God. And Jesus was nailed to that cross as the sacrificial offering for the sin of the world.
There are many such parallels that can be identified between the offering of Isaac by his father Abraham and the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Heavenly Father, Who loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son to be man's Kinsman Redeemer and the sacrifice for sin.
We stand in awe as we contemplate that it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, for by the suffering and death of his beloved Son and His resurrection to life ALL who would believe on His name would be redeemed.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the amazing life-story of Abraham, who demonstrated through his acts of faith and obedience, the importance of trusting You in all things, even when human logic and understanding deny the circumstances. Thank You that You use all things together for the good of those that love You. Help me to understand that You are carrying out Your purposes in the lives of each of Your children, as You carry forward Your redemptive plan for the world. I pray You would open up my understanding, more and more, to the wonderful things within Your Word. In Jesus' name, AMEN.