The path stretched before the pair, winding ever higher. The boy thought it would have been nice to have the donkey to help with the load, but it had been left with the men who had traveled with them until this morning.
“Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you,” his dad had told the two.
Isaac wasn’t sure how they would accomplish their task without a lamb for the burnt offering. He was, however, sure of his father Abraham’s ability to handle any situation, and he felt secure in his presence. So he obediently trudged uphill under the weight of the wood for the offering, allowing his imagination to be captured by the sights and sounds around him. There was the steady hum of insects enjoying the sun’s warmth. Pebbles could be heard bouncing down the rocky pathway, at times dislodged by their feet, sometimes uprooted by the frightened flight of a hill country rodent. Occasionally, Isaac would spy a pair of indignant eyes peeking from the brush. They made him smile.
He stared up at the brilliant blue sky, broken only by an occasional wisp of cloud. He watched butterflies flit around the wildflowers; he never tired of gazing at the colorful tufts that seemed to force their way from inside the rocks themselves. There they were, protruding from a crack in the limestone plateau, or squeezing up from between two boulders. They were cheery, defying the now beating sun, refusing to wilt in its heat.
Though the flowers weren’t wilting, Isaac felt as if he might. He slowed and asked his father for a drink. Unconcerned, but curious, he asked the question he had wondered about earlier.
“Look, Father. We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
“My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
Content with the answer, Isaac followed his father. He couldn’t know the questions Abraham held in his own heart. For two full days, Abraham had journeyed mechanically through the valley to the place where he’d left his servants. As he and Isaac had continued on alone, he had replayed God’s words over and over again in his mind. He was trying to understand.
“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
The temptation to fret was strong. But Abraham trusted in his Father’s ability to handle any situation, and he was secure in His presence. He saw evidence of Him all around. He drank in the beauty of the world God had spoken into existence and let that be of comfort to him. He thought about the lush valley from which he’d come; it reminded him of how God had never left him in want. His eyes admired the mountain peaks he could see in the distance, and he felt humbled and safe in view of the majesty of God.
Soon they were at the summit. With determined submission, Abraham set about the detestable duty before him. He built an altar and ordered the wood upon it. Then he kissed Isaac and forced himself to bind him. Weeping, he laid him upon the altar atop the wood. Abraham was now deaf to the sights and sounds which had comforted him only a short time before. Sobbing uncontrollably, he now took the knife and stretched out his hand to slay his only son.
Suddenly, the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham! 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.”
Both Abraham and Isaac lifted their eyes to behold a miracle. Caught in a thicket by its horns was a ram – the ram provided by God for the burnt offering. Tears of joy and thanksgiving poured from both father and son as they drank in the beautiful sight. Neither spoke, but both knew. Never again would they offer a sacrifice or even enjoy a walk through God’s countryside without being reminded of this day and this sight, because in the Mount of the Lord it was provided.
Based on Genesis 22:1-14, NKJV.
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