Focal passage: Genesis 22:1-14
In last week’s lesson, we finally had the privilege of witnessing God’s promise fulfilled in the birth of Isaac. All of the waiting and trusting came to fruition as God provided a son for Abraham and Sarah after 25 years of expectation. This week’s story line is heartbreaking in comparison. God calls Abraham to give up this son – the one he waited so many years for; the son that was to be his heir and the offspring in which the nations of the earth would be blessed; the only son born of Sarah – by sacrificing him on an altar to the Lord.
We resonated last week with the rejoicing that surely surrounded the birth and celebration of Isaac, the tangible life that represented God’s faithfulness to His promise. In the same way, we can feel the grief and turmoil that must have beset Abraham as he obediently followed the LORD’s instructions for his faith test presented in Genesis 22.
Scripture continues in the narrative to tell us how Abraham prepared for the test. He arose early in the morning, saddled the donkey, cut wood for the burnt offering, gathered the necessary items for the sacrifice, and took two of his young men along with Isaac. They journeyed three days to the mountain. So much was unknown to Abraham, just like his initial journey to Canaan. Yet each step forward – signifying his obedience to God – was an act of worship. Even as father and son continued on alone, Abraham expressed confidence in God and His ability to provide.
After binding his son and laying him on the altar, the angel of the Lord stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac – giving approval of Abraham’s faith. He proved that he was willing to obey God, whatever the cost, and demonstrated faith in His power to save (see Hebrews 11:17-19). God, therefore, provides a lamb for the sacrifice in Isaac’s place.
This provision beautifully points to the future substitutionary sacrifice of God’s only Son, Jesus, the Lamb of God, who would die in our place and take away the sins of the world.