The theme of this chapter is “the TESTING of Abraham’s FAITH.” This is borne out in verses 1-2, “Now it came to pass after these things that GOD TESTED ABRAHAM, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.” Then He said, ‘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 on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (NKJV). One has said that “true faith must be tested” and this was surely the case here. Abraham’s faith had been tested many times before, but this was indeed “the greatest test in his life.”

Did Abraham pass the test? Ah, we can say that he passed it with flying colors! Verse 3 declares, “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” Notice, we are told that “Abraham rose early in the morning” and then he did EXACTLY what God commanded. He didn’t procrastinate; he didn’t sit down and analyze the test; he simply OBEYED God’s Word!

What would we have done if we had been in Abraham’s shoes? Would we have wondered, “How can God ask me to sacrifice my only son when Isaac was born by a miracle from God and in him all the promises of God are to be fulfilled?” As far as we can tell, Abraham never entertained this question. Instead, he set out for the land of Moriah with Isaac and the wood in hand; ready to offer his only son in obedience to the Word of God. “Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together” (verse 6). When they arrived at Mount Moriah we are told that “Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son” (verses 9-10).

One wonders what Abraham was thinking at this point. I believe his main thought was, “God asked me to do this and in love for Him I must obey.” But there was another thought that gave Abraham the faith and the boldness to obey. Hebrews 11:17-19 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ CONCLUDING THAT GOD WAS ABLE TO RAISE HIM UP, EVEN FROM THE DEAD.” Abraham’s faith was firmly rooted in “the God of resurrection,” and thus he knew that if he did offer his only son, God would raise him from the dead in order to make good on all the promises that were centered in Isaac. We know that an angel of God stopped Abraham from slaying his son and a ram was offered up in Isaac’s place, but Abraham’s TEST proved the reality of his faith and that he surely would have killed his son in obedience to God.

We can’t end this meditation without mentioning the simple and yet beautiful picture this presents to us of God the Father offering up His only begotten son on the cross. Isaac and his willingness to allow his father to bind him to the wooden altar illustrate the Son of God’s willingness to be “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8) Abraham typifies God the Father “who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Yet let’s mark the differences. Abraham’s hand was stopped by an angel but at Calvary God laid our sins upon His only Son and then poured out His holy wrath upon His beloved (see Isaiah 53:5-6, 10; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; 1st Peter 2:24; 1st Peter 3:18). Abraham’s actions were in response to God’s testing his faith; God’s actions at the cross were the manifestation of His love to a race of rebellious sinners. Abraham’s obedience proved his faith was genuine; God’s judgment of His Son provided a way of salvation for all who will believe. (274.9) (DO)