“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He 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.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.”
Many of us know this story. Abraham is told to take Isaac to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. God asked him to kill his one and only son, whom was born when Abraham was 100 years old. Abraham had waited decades upon decades for this boy to be born. At nearly ten years of age, God asks him to kill him. We know how the story ends; God allows Abraham to go as far as raising the knife over the boy when suddenly God directs his attention to a ram caught in the thicket. God saves the day. The entire story was an imagery and prophecy of what was to come through God’s one and only son, Jesus Christ.
I’ve read this story numerous times, but I caught something new this time. Verse 2: “Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…”
Burnt offerings in the Old Testament were to be completely consumed by the fire. These were the BIG offerings, most notably sacrificed on the Day of Atonement.
God didn’t just ask Abraham to give over his son as Hannah gave over Samuel (she gave him over in full duty and service to the Lord). He asked Abraham to give over what was most precious to him and allow it to be wholly consumed. God promised Abraham that he would make a great nation out of Abraham’s offspring, but first, God wanted the blessing back. He didn’t just want Abraham to promise that Isaac’s life would be fully devoted to God. He wanted proof that Abraham was serious about giving everything up for Him.
What is the burnt offering that I need to offer? Each of us has to figure this out for ourselves. This is a difficult answer to find, if you ask me. What’s the one thing that I hold dearer than anything else on this earth? What do I need to allow to be wholly consumed in order to follow the plan of God? Sometimes I think it’s making the commitment to not mull over relationships/marriage. That might come as a shocker, but it’s true. I’ve spent more time in prayer over relationships/marriage than I have with most other things (I can really only think of one or two things that have topped that prayer – Dad’s salvation being one of them). Whatever it is that I find needs to be wholly consumed really needs to be something that will hurt when I say to God, “Take it. It’s yours anyway.” I’m still praying for whatever that may be.
One more observation from this passage.
Verse 3: “When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering…”
Take a second to think about how much wood it would take to offer a full grown bull, or a ram, or any other full grown animal, as a burnt offering. That’s how much wood Abraham cut according to this passage. That all of a sudden changes the perspective of verse six: “Abraham took the wood for the burn offering and placed it on his son Isaac…” Isaac’s carrying of the wood to the altar is obviously imagery of Christ carrying his cross to Calgary. We all get that. But have you ever thought about how similar the two situations would have been? The cross would have been no small object. The amount of wood that it would have taken to burn an adolescent boy wouldn’t have been a small amount either. Everything Abraham did to prepare for this moment was as well-prepared as any other sacrifice would have been. Does this strike anyone else the way it does me? Burnt offerings were SUCH a humongous deal to the Israelites. The cream of the crop (well, herd…) was given over to God.
What is it that we as individuals can offer as burnt sacrifices?
What about as a church?
Pray on friends.