Do you ever wonder about what Abraham was thinking when he decided to obey God and sacrifice his son, Isaac, on the altar (see Gen. 22)? Here is a man who was 100 years old when Isaac was born! He was probably preparing Isaac for the day when he would inherit all of Abraham’s riches and lands. And remember that God had promised Abraham that his line would continue through Isaac, so I just have to stop and wonder about what was going through Abraham’s mind at what seemed like an odd request from his heavenly Father. Why would he be willing to sacrifice his son?
Of course, if I stop to think about Abraham’s response, then I have to wonder about Isaac’s response as well. Many children’s books depict Isaac as a small child when the sacrifice is taking place, but the Bible seems to indicate that he was actually a young man at this time. So don’t you think a healthy, young man could prevent an elderly man from killing him? Isaac was no dummy. I am sure he figured out what was going on when he was being tied to the altar! Why didn’t he try to get away?
As a parent, I am shocked by God’s command towards Abraham each and every time I read this passage! Why would God encourage a parent to harm his own child? But it appears that Abraham didn’t see things that way. He knew that God had given him Isaac for a time and that God was the One running the show. So all he had to do was trust God with his child. One commentator I read even suggested that maybe Abraham believed that God would bring Isaac back from the grave. But I am not sure that I agree. There was no previous evidence to give Abraham the impression that God would do such a thing! It seems to me that this was a simple matter of Abraham knowing the faithfulness and goodness of his God!
With a three-year-old and a one-year-old, I have a hard time not worrying about my children at all times. Why does Ephraim have a rash on his ankle? Did Hannah get enough fruits and vegetables today? What will happen if I let someone else watch my kids for the evening? Who will take care of them and love them if something happens to me? When they are grown, who will they marry? What if God calls them to the mission field?
When I think of my own Hannah, I am reminded of another Hannah in I Samuel 1. This was a woman who was completely barren, something that was considered a curse back in Bible times. This woman promised God that she would give her child back to Him, and I and II Samuel explain the life of a man whose mother trusted her child to God. The life that Samuel led was a direct result of a mother who was willing to “sacrifice” her child in order to obey the one, true God.
I once heard of a woman who told her daughter that she would let her go to the mission field over her dead body. Within a few months, that woman was dead. I don’t know if that was a true story or just a great sermon example, but it really struck a chord in me. Is that the kind of parent that I want to be? The one who stands as a road block in my children’s paths to serve their God? I hope not. I hope that I’m not doing that now. I blogged about allowing our children to be witnesses here. If I stand in the way of letting them reach out now, then I am already holding them back from what God wants them to be! And that means that I certainly not accomplishing the task that God has given me to do!
Going back to the story of Abraham and Isaac, I wonder if Isaac’s attitude was influenced by his father’s. “You’re going to sacrifice me today? Okay, I’m sure you know what you’re doing!” There is no indication that Isaac tried to escape. In fact, Isaac helped his dad prepare the altar. Knowing his father’s faith in God and perhaps demonstrating his own amount of faith in both his earthly father and his heavenly Father, Isaac simply does as his father tells him. I think that shows some great parenting on the parts of Abraham and Sarah, don’t you?
I wonder if my own children will be as willing to trust in their mom as Isaac obviously trusted in his dad. I wonder if they will be willing to make a sacrifice if it is the will of God. I think that Samuel exemplifies best what a mother’s faithfulness teaches her child when he responds (as a grown man) in I Samuel 15:22: “And Samuel said, ‘Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.'”
When the time comes, I hope I am ready to sacrifice my own children to the will of God.