My first reaction would have been: worship? Why should I worship a God who asks me to kill my only son?
There’s no record of Abraham balking, questioning or trying to rationalize his way out of doing what God asked of him. Verse three says he rose early the next morning and set about the task. Abraham was willing to give up what was dearest to him as an act of worship to God. That tells me his relationship with God had to be deeper, closer, and built on more trust than anything else in his life. Including his son. The son he waited over twenty years for.
God was very specific with Abraham, referring to Isaac in four different ways. He told Abraham to take his son, his only son (no mention of Ishmael), Isaac (the one who brings you laughter), the son he loved. The next day, Abraham started out and for three days of traveling, he thought about what he was doing.
In those days, an animal to be sacrificed had its legs tied together before being lain on the altar. The person performing the sacrifice would slit the throat, dismember the animal and lay the pieces back on the altar in a certain order, then set fire to the whole thing. Three days of travel gave Abraham plenty of time to think about it, to hesitate, to reconsider, to turn back, to imagine the horror, to question God and his love.
In just the few minutes of study I spent, I wept at the prospect of watching my son’s body burn on an altar. And yet, Abraham apparently never questioned or hesitated.
One thing this passage teaches me is that sacrifice involves the heart. It requires what is dear to us. How embarrassing that in my previous post, I thought not buying clothes for a year was, in any way, a sacrifice! It costs me nothing. How pitiful!
Just like our physical bodies, spiritual muscles must be exercised regularly in order to possess the strength necessary for trials, testings, deserts, wildernesses. Otherwise, they grow flabby from lack of use. Unfortunately, I prefer being a couch potato, whether we’re talking physically or spiritually. But one never knows when strength and stamina will be needed. This is my year for sacrifice. It’s time to get in shape.
Abraham spent years in spiritual training–years of mistakes and missteps, years of learning to trust what God says, years that developed a strong, deep relationship with Yahweh. God had promised his descendants would outnumber the stars in the heavens, and they would come through Isaac. Abraham believed him. He considered God worthy of worship at any cost, even the cost of his son.
I wonder what cost I’m willing to pay to worship my Lord and Savior.