By: Marlia Kusuma Dewi
Abraham shivered as he woke up in the early morning. The dew that usually cooled his soul felt like ice on his skin. The darkness was not a peaceful moment for him, but a cloak that suffocated his chest. His heart was racing fast. “Why do I have to surrender the child I love, the child I would give my life for?” he screamed in his heart.
Heartless? . . . No . . . that was not the right word for it. Abraham knew that if he had a choice, he would not do it. Desperate? . . . maybe this word was more accurate, but why did he love the Creator so much that he had to offer his only child at His command?
“Oh my!!! This is too much,” his hands trembled as he gathered the wood and fastened it tightly. Knife . . . yes . . . he had to do it swiftly . . . he didn’t want his child to endure for too long. His heart was shattering as he selected the sharpest knife. And . . . fire . . . yes . . . he snatched anything that could ignite fire. Everything was ready, except his heart.
He gently shook his son awake and said, “Isaac . . . my son . . . let’s go to the hill and offer a sacrifice to the God we worship.” Isaac, his beloved son, opened his eyes . . . how radiant they were . . . how he longed to look into those eyes forever . . . how he wished he could stay and enjoy Isaac’s warm hands emerging from under the blanket. “Lord, does it have to be him? Do you really want me to offer Isaac, my beloved son? Is there nothing else but this precious son of mine?” Abraham wept quietly.
Friends, the scene above is a dramatization of the story in Genesis 22:1-18, where God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Abraham and Isaac are key figures in the history of faith that has been passed down through generations.
We might wonder how Abraham could obey such a difficult command from God. Didn’t he question God’s promise that he would have many descendants through Isaac? Didn’t he see any contradiction between God’s promise and God’s command? Isaac was the only son he had and the only way for his family line to continue.
The Bible does not tell us what Abraham felt, but we can imagine that he had plenty of time to think during the two-day journey from his home to the mountain that God chose in Moriah. He could have used that time to discuss with Isaac and look for a better solution that would please God and protect his son. He could have decided to turn back from the mountain and go back to his wife Sarah. But instead, we see that both Abraham and Isaac trusted God and followed his command, without any hesitation or deviation.
Abraham showed his faith in God by obeying him. We can see his faith in two things he said:
- God will provide
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8)
Abraham trusted that God would give him what he needed. He even said “a lamb”. He believed that God could do anything, even what seemed impossible. Abraham knew God well enough to know that God would not break his promise. God had promised him that he would have many descendants like the stars. Abraham did not know how God would do it, but he knew that God loved him and would not harm him.
- We will come back to you
[Abraham] said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5).
Abraham showed his faith again with these words. He had already told Isaac that God would provide. Now he told his servants that he and Isaac would come back. This must have comforted the servants, who might have been confused like Isaac. They might have wondered where the lamb for the sacrifice was and if Abraham had forgotten it.
So, what does this story on Mount Moriah teach us? Many people think that Mount Moriah was where God’s Temple in Jerusalem was built thousands of years later, where Jesus died on a cross outside the city (2 Chronicles 3; Hebrews 13:11-12). God’s command to Abraham was just like a picture of God’s plan to save sinners through Jesus Christ. God the Father did what He asked Abraham to do (John 3:16; Romans 3:24-25; 8:32). The difference is that Isaac was spared by a lamb that God provided. But Jesus, the Lamb of God, had no substitute. There was nothing or no one else that was holy, pure and perfect enough to pay for our sins.
Jesus suffered more than anyone ever did. He was also rejected by the people who had praised Him and said, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. They later shouted angrily, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (see John 12:13; Luke 23:21).
Jesus was not only denied by Peter, one of His closest disciples, but also by those He had fed and healed. Jesus was not only betrayed by Judas, His trusted disciple, but also by those who saw His miracles, by those who knew the Scriptures and waited for the Messiah, who was right in front of them. So in His pain for all the rejection, betrayal, and suffering He faced, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
You and I, we are all among those who “do not know what we are doing”. We often struggle with sin that sneaks into our lives without us noticing. We may have felt so weary of trying to live righteously with so many excuses for things that are clearly wrong. We may have tried to cover up our evil deeds by using some Bible verses to silence our conscience that the Holy Spirit uses to warn us.
We are part of the reason why Christ was crucified. But even though it happened a long time ago, the effect of the cross will last as long as the world does, as long as there are people living, until Jesus comes back. He is the perfect sacrifice who died in our place for our sins, even though we deserved to suffer more. How blessed we are to have received Christ’s forgiveness.
Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!