Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
When Abraham was 75 years old, God told him he would have a son. At the time, his wife Sarah was also old and barren. Isaac was born 25 years later when Abraham was 100, and Sarah was 90 years old. God also promised Abraham that he would have descendants as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the beach. God made Abraham the "Father of Many Nations."
God's Command to Abraham
One day God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you” (Genesis 22:2).
The Bible does not give the age of Isaac at the time when God told his father to offer him up as a sacrifice. According to the Bible, we know Isaac was old enough and strong enough to carry the wood for the sacrifice. We also learn that he was able to talk and was intelligent and curious enough to say, "My father, behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" (Genesis 22:7).
Abraham Did Not Question God
As much as Abraham loved his son that he had waited so long to have, he obeyed God without questioning Him. God acknowledged that Abraham loved his son. So, why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? And if he sacrificed Isaac, how would he have descendants?
According to Genesis 22:1, God was testing Abraham. When Abraham and Isaac reached the place God told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. He bound Isaac and laid the boy on the altar on top of the wood. Then he took the knife and raised it high in the air to slay his son. As the knife was coming down, the angel of the Lord called out to Abraham from heaven and told him not to harm Isaac. He added, "Now I know you fear God" (Genesis 22:11-12).
Even though Isaac was not sacrificed, many people say "the sacrifice of Isaac." However, it was the "near-sacrifice of Isaac" because God prepared "a ram in the thicket" (Genesis 22:13). Why was it necessary for Abraham to sacrifice the ram?
Ram in the Thicket
God put a ram in the thicket to be sacrificed in place of Isaac because God has requested a sacrifice. When Abraham saw the ram caught in the thicket by his horns, he slew it as a burnt offering instead of his son. The ram was sacrificed to please God, and Isaac's life was spared.
Be Willing to Lay Down Your Isaac
We can learn a profound lesson from the near-sacrifice of Isaac. Whether we acknowledge it or not, all of us have an Isaac that we should "be willing to lay down." Your "Isaac" might not be a son like Abraham loved, but "Isaac" is a metaphor for something you dearly love just as much or more than God.
Laying down your Isaac means being willing to give up something you love to surrender your all and all to God. The key piece of information that some people miss is that we must be willing to give it up. In the end, God will prepare "a ram in the thicket" so we won't have to give it up after all. Once we lay down our Isaac, we are showing God that we can trust Him to the nth degree and God's glory will be shown through our willingness.
Letting go of something we love is usually difficult. It might be a relationship, a job, a financial windfall, a beautiful house, a fancy car, or something else. Indeed, it is not easy, but like Abraham, we must be willing to give it up especially if God requests us to do just that. Like Abraham, we can pass the test.