Genuine Faith

I had to read this passage several times before I saw Abraham's clearly implied statement of faith. His words and his demeanor are so understated, so matter-of-fact, that it's easy to miss the drama of this scene. If I were about to sacrifice my only son, who embodied all the promises that God had ever made to me, I would have been overcome with emotion. "I don't understand why God is making me do this, but I will do as He says. So I'm going up that mountain to sacrifice my son on that altar, then I'm going home to mourn this terrible loss for the rest of my life!"

According to the book of Hebrews, Abraham knew three important facts. First, Isaac was to be the vehicle of God's promises; therefore, Isaac must live. Second, God always keeps His promises. Third, God's power is absolute, even over the power of death. The only logical conclusion that remained was that somehow, against all natural reason, after killing Isaac and allowing the fire to completely consume him, God would miraculously restore the life of Isaac—the boy he dearly loved.

Obviously, Abraham didn't tell Isaac everything he knew about what was to happen on the mountain. We can't be sure why he withheld that information. Maybe to spare his son unnecessary fear or dread. We don't know. But I do know that when God does a transforming work in you that involves a trial, He's not testing other people; He's testing you. Because this experience is designed for you, it isn't necessarily required or even appropriate for you to share the whole story with everyone else. Or, for that matter, with anyone else. Occasionally, strength is mustered in keeping it to ourselves . . . completely.

Isaac finally asked the obvious question. They have a knife, wood, and fire for the sacrifice. "Where is the sacrifice?" I love Abraham's answer. "God will provide." The Hebrew uses an idiom that sounds just like something a dad would say today. "The Lord will see to that for Himself, son." Can you hear his calm, reassuring tone? "God will provide for Himself. That's up to Him. We're doing His will. It's up to Him to work out the details He didn't give to us. Our responsibility is to trust Him. This is a risk we will share together."

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Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

When I Lay My Isaac Down