15 Heshvan 5758
November 15, 1997

The Binding of Isaac

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" Then God said, "Take you son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.
Genesis 22:1,2

This week's portion contains one of the most difficult situations that we encounter in all the Scriptures. After Abraham and Sarah had waited so long for God to fulfill his promise of a son to them, he actually tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to him.

To understand this story we need to look at the whole story. We mustn't jump into this incident and think we can appreciate what is going on.

Abraham knew God. He had been through thick and thin with him. God had spoke to him through the years, guided him and took care of him through everything. The birth of Isaac was an incredible miracle. Now God was speaking to him again.

Abraham was no religious nut, who went around justifying his quirky behavior in the name of God. His relationship with the Lord of the universe was real.

The story contains no hint of questioning on Abraham's part. He simply obeys God. But one comment he makes reveals that his understanding of the situation was deeper than what appeared on the surface. Just before ascending the mountain, he says to his servants,

Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you (Genesis 22:5).

"WE will come back to you." Abraham's faith in God reached beyond normal limits. As the New Covenant writer writes, "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead…" (Hebrews 11:19)

To take this fact away from the story is to not do justice to it. God knew Abraham and Abraham knew God. God had said that Isaac would be the one through whom the promise of blessing to the entire world would come. Abraham knew that he could trust God completely even when his instructions seemed contrary to God's own plans.

God used Abraham to show us that there is life beyond death. His actions foreshadow the greater act of faith when the Messiah himself would give himself unto death and show us that there is something on the other side.