As I read the story of the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22), it strikes me that God never asked Abraham to do something he wasn’t willing to do himself. There are so many similarities between this story and the crucifixion of Jesus – Moriah and Calvary are close locations, the wood that Isaac was given to carry reminds me of Jesus carrying the cross, the lamb given as a substitutional sacrifice… Amazing prophecy – ” “God himself will provide the lamb.” (verse8) And of course, on this occasion, the son was spared as the ram was sacrificed. Not so, those centuries later when Jesus, the son, was the lamb. God went further, much further than he had asked Abraham to.
As I ponder on the enormity of what Abraham was willing to offer, and as I read of him binding his precious son and laying him on the altar, it crosses my mind to wonder what I would be prepared to lay there. God rarely asks anything quite as extreme as in this story, but he does sometimes ask us to sacrifice smaller things. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that sometimes those ‘little things’ can seem quite hard to relinquish. Little things like time, effort, food, comfort… My guess is that if we could see how pleased God is with our ‘little’ sacrifices, and how powerfully they affect the heavenly realms, we’d be a lot more enthusiastic.
There is one more thing that strikes me about this story – and that’s how it must have affected Isaac. It must have been a traumatic experience. But Isaac was never left in any doubt about the power and position of God. At every point in the story he observes his father worshipping Almighty God, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice him. Nothing could speak more powerfully about the worth of God. Let us never hold back from conveying to the next generation the awesome majesty of Almighty God. Do the sacrifices I make express that?