I was recently reading an Old Testament Bible story that has spoken volumes to me over the years. It’s the story of Abram and Isaac in Genesis 22: 1-18. In case your recollection is fuzzy, this was before he became the great progenitor, as, at this time his only progeny was Isaac. The primary problem facing him though, was the fact that God had apparently instructed him to kill Isaac, thereby removing the only source of his becoming a great progenitor. This story has always motivated me to ask certain questions about Abrams psyche and emotional struggle as he walked this dark road from which there was seemingly no escape. Here are some of my questions (and by all means please feel free to add some of your own):
- What motivated Abram to action, even to the point of being willing to kill his own son, for whom he had waited so many years?
- What did he say to his son to convince him that it was okay to let his own father kill him with a knife? (Bear in mind the Scriptures tell us he placed Isaac on the altar and lifted the knife ready to kill him. No where does it suggest or state that Isaac resisted or that Abram drugged him so that he was in a coma)
- What made Abram so certain that he had heard God’s voice?The truth is we can only speculate as to the answers to these questions.
What we do know for certain however is where and how it all began. In Genesis 12: 2 God declares to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation.” However Abram chose to interpret the fulfillment of that promise, it was the one thing he held onto in the midst of his greatest crisis. When all else fails, only one thing stands sure in the midst of the uncertainty: His promises. Abram knew that God’s word was surer than money in the bank (or cattle on the range), and he wasn’t about to doubt God’s promise of making him a great nation. Whatever that looked like to Abram at the time of receiving the promise, I’m sure it didn’t entail his son on a sacrificial altar.
But he did it anyway!
When life seems so uncertain, you must simplify and go back to the beginning, so that the pain and anguish don’t speak louder than the promise. Do you really believe that it was easy for Abram to lift a knife against his beloved son? Abram’s obedience was a direct result of his confidence in God’s sovereignty, and so he obeyed God’s instructions even when they didn’t seem to make sense to his natural inclinations. You know the rest of the story: God provided a sacrificial lamb (Lamb) in place of Isaac, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, who became the father of the twelve sons who became the nation of Israel. “I will make you into a great nation,” God had said, and that’s exactly what He did.