I recently led a Bible class discussion on Genesis 22 – the occasion of Abraham offering Isaac up to God. It’s a traumatic story filled with Messianic parallels and New Testament imagery, but a couple verses in particular made an impression on me this time through the familiar passage.
The first was Genesis 22:5:
And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the young man [Isaac] and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
The Hebrew writer, in chapter 11 of his or her book, cites Abraham’s faith that God could raise Isaac from the dead, and that faith is very evident in this verse. Abraham tells his servants, “We will come back to you.” Knowing God’s commands, He affirms his faith that God will allow both of them to return after this ordeal. It’s a small but powerful statement.
The other thing that impresses me is Isaac’s compliance in this whole matter. Through the entirety of Genesis 22, we only have record of Isaac speaking once, and that’s in verse 7:
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And [Abraham] said, “Here am I, my son.” [Isaac] said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
In verse 8, Abraham simply answers that God will provide, and Isaac proceeds silently, as a lamb led to the slaughter. We often focus on what could have been going through Abraham’s mind, knowing full well that he may have to slay his only begotten son. We see the relief he must have felt when his hand is stayed, and a ram crowned in thorns is offered in the place of his son, paying the price of Isaac’s sacrifice.
What of Isaac, though? Surely he felt something was amiss while, with his aged and reticent father, he ascended that mountain in Moriah. The tension must have been palpable. Consider your own reaction had your father or mother built an altar and stretched you over it, bound as a trapped animal. Wouldn’t you or I cry out? Wouldn’t our first instincts be resistance and self-preservation? In Genesis 22, Isaac is much younger and likely in much better physical condition that Abraham. He could have easily overpowered the centenarian.
Yet the Biblical record says nothing of Isaac fighting back. He places his trust in his father and his Father. I think this single fact speaks volumes of the relationship Abraham had with Isaac as well as the faith passed on from father to son. Here we see a son, when faced with crisis, willing to place his fate in the hands of the man who has nurtured him and the God who can deliver him.