Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided .” Genesis 22:6-14 (NRSV)
Scripture doesn’t really tell us if Isaac was pretty freaked out at this point. I don’t think it’s very easy for a parent to imagine setting one’s child on fire, on purpose, either. Isaac’s reaction isn’t that important to the point of the story, although it was probably very important to Isaac at the time. God provided the sacrifice. Think of the phrase Lamb of God and you get the drift.
God was testing Abraham’s ability to trust Him and Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his gifts to God’s will and purpose, which is important. More importantly, God was also showing Abraham that God is the One Who ultimately provides the sacrifice that covers us and redeems us.
God’s Son, given as a sacrifice to save us. Given from God’s heart of anguish and at His great pain so that we are spared the penalty of sin and death that we have earned.
This is a great foreshadowing of the sacrifice to come.
We are powerless to save ourselves, We don’t have the means even if we would be willing to sacrifice that which is most precious to us. God does test us and God does desire that we are willing to give of ourselves, but it is only in and through Him that our gifts can be made active and useful.
God can and does work wonders with willing hearts. He makes a way even when the way seems impossible. He has provided the Lamb.