I have always been fascinated by the miracles in the Bible. Particularly the ones that showed us the victory over the situation.
I love the story of the child of promise finally coming to Abraham and Sarah. I imagine her jubilation and excitement with a hint of anxiety and a dash of fear that it was too good to be true. Have you ever been a Sarah? Have you ever waited so long that you stopped believing. So much so that when the prophesy was given you laughed hysterically with derision towards the messenger? Have you ever waited so long that you settled into nothing because between the prophesy and the promise the journey was too tiring? Have you ever gotten to the point where you stopped believing? And the suddenly the promise was there – and you held it – and you smelled the sweet infant breath and felt the suckling at your breast and the tiny fingers against your skin. You heard the cooing and the crying and the infusion was too beautiful to behold. Even the throw-up and the poop seemed almost sweet (and not just bearable and necessary). Nothing could be sweeter and nothing could be more satisfying than beholding your promise.
As for Abraham, the “father of faith”, I wonder if he always had faith or if it sometimes failed him. I wonder how ashamed he felt the morning after the night with Hagar, or the day Ishmael was born, or when he had to send them both away into the desert to die. How did he cover his guilt and shame? Did he ever blame Sarah? Did he ever get angry at her? Did he consider hiding Ishmael and Hagar and not telling her? Did he ever shake his fist at God in anger? Or question Him?
And when finally Isaac came, the child of promise, the promise in the child, the child that was the promise and the promise manifested in the child, how proud was he of the seed he had produced? When he looked at him, did he beam with pride or tear up with humility that God, the almighty God, Yahweh, had actually brought to life the words of the promise into a living, breathing, beautiful, bouncing, boy of a testimony?
Fast forward to that fateful morning when he once again heard the voice of the Almighty telling him that he needed to sacrifice HIS. ONLY. SON … Why would God do that? Why would a good God do that? Why would a loving God ask for the thing he loved the most? Why would a covenant keeping God ask for the seed of the promise to be slain? Why (perhaps he asked) would God not have asked him to sacrifice Ishmael when there was still an Ishmael to sacrifice? And then why who would he have him send Ishmael away to die then also take Isaac?
As they got closer to the top of the mountain, what was going through his mind? Was he sweating profusely and shaking uncontrollably? Was he commanding the boy to be silent because the incessant questions (even in obedience and silence) were too hard for him to take? Did the boy ask many times or just once? And did that once ring continually in the father’s ears until it became like a loud GONG repeated in his ears?
As he built the altar, did he TRULY believe that God was going to offer an alternate or was he walking into it having said goodbye and made peace with this gut wrenching, heart breaking demand? When he finally laid his sweet, sweet boy on that altar, when he finally bound and blindfolded him and raised that knife, was it in anger and cussing God inwardly or was it in complete surrender to the will of the God who had given the promise and delivered the promise and then demanded the promise back?
I know the Bible says in Hebrews chapter 11:
17 By faith Abraham, when he was put to the test [while the testing of his faith was [d]still in progress], [e]had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God’s] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son,
18 Of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned.
19 For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead [potentially sacrificed], he did [actually] receive him back from the dead.
I do not know that kind of faith – but then again I don’t think Abraham knew it either until it was demanded of him to sacrifice the lamb of promise upon the altar of obedience. The lamb in the thicket was not provided by the laying of the promise on the altar that day. It was provided because of the condition of the heart of Abraham. He truly trusted God and had walked with Him long enough to know that if he demanded the sacrificial lamb, he also had the ability to raise the very sacrifice from the dead. And so he went forth without murmuring or complaining, without bitterness or anger, without question or curse – he went forth and raised that knife – REGARDLESS OF THE PAIN IN HIS HEART AND THE GAPING HOLE IN HIS SOUL – he went ahead and sacrificed the promise upon the altar of his heart before he ever got to the mountain. Abraham’s faith was more about the condition of his heart than the condition of the stones that composed the altar. His answer to Isaac that God WOULD provide a lamb for the burnt offering (Genesis 22:8) was determined long before Isaac had ever asked that question and long before he ever got to the top of the mountain.
Today I’m speaking to someone who has been asked by God to sacrifice the promise upon the altar of obedience. This is the hardest test you have had to face yet, and may be the hardest test you will ever have to face – and it hurts. And it doesn’t make sense. And it goes against everything in you. It defies all logic.
Here’s what the Lord is saying to you today: You have walked with me long enough to know that I can resurrect it. What I am asking is – will you trust that I have your best in mind and at heart? Do you know that I STILL love you even when I ask you to do this hard thing?
Today the Lord is saying to you: Give this promise to me and let me build upon it. EVEN IF THERE WILL NOT BE FOUND A LAMB IN THE THICKET, know this: I love you. I know you’re hurting. I know your pain. Give it to me and let me heal you and provide in the way that I know you need, which may not always be in the way that you think.
Today, I lay down my Isaac. Not on the altar of my words and my actions, but on the altar of my heart. Have your way Lord. Heal my heart.
I am Beautiful – Empowered – Visionary
I am @BeautifulPetal_
** This post was inspired by my personal journey as well as the book “When I Lay My Isaac Down – Unshakeable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances” by @CarolKent.