Giving Up Isaac

Giving Up Isaac (Genesis 22)

“Isaac, your only son, the one whom you love.”

The words rang in Abraham’s ears and revolutionized his inner world. Isaac, the son whom God had promised he and Sarah would bear in old age; Isaac, the one through whom all future promises – a great people, land, blessings for the whole world – would come. How could Yahweh now require that he offer Isaac on an altar as an offering to this unseen Lord?

Surely, the aged patriarch would gladly sacrifice his own life rather than that of his cherished offspring. His pilgrimage lay behind him, while a bright future awaited Isaac. Why could he not die instead?

But, no, God’s ultimate summons had come for Isaac, not Abraham. The “friend of God” faced the horrible fact that his hitherto-faithful Lord now demanded something that not only broke a father’s heart but also seemed to nullify all that Yahweh had spoken to him about the future.

That future now looked terribly bleak, hopeless, barren; filed with doubt and despair, rather than the faith and hope which had carried Abraham all these years since leaving Ur.

Nevertheless, he knew that God is God and must be obeyed. After decades of walking with Yahweh, he also believed – as his actions show – that this God is also good. He will keep his promises, somehow. What he has given, he has the right to withdraw. Despite the looming catastrophe, Abraham must have been convinced that his son, and the future which he embodied, would be restored to him. Hebrews 11:19

“So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and a rose and went to the place of which God had told him.” Genesis 22:3

At the summit, just as the father raised the knife to slay his son, the Angel of the LORD stopped him: “Do not lay your hand on the lad, 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.” Then God provided a ram to be offered in Isaac’s place, and renewed his promises to bless Abraham and all the world through him and his descendants.


“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” John 12:24

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-38

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1

“The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

“Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Ephesians 5:25

“We groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. . . Likewise, the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:23, 26

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” Romans 8:28

“[Nothing in all creation] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24