The Sacrifice of Isaac: PART 1
Abraham could not sleep. He stared up at the night sky brilliant with stars. God had promised him as many descendants, more than he could count.
He and Sarah had not wanted anything out of the ordinary, nothing that had not been granted to most: children and a family of their own. But God had given them a promise that went far beyond their wildest dreams. God had caused Abraham to hope, to believe, even when a decade had passed and he was still childless.
Finally he had had a son by Sarah’s maid. They were sure the boy Ishmael would be Abraham’s heir. But when Ishmael was in his teens, God made it clear that he had someone else in mind. Sarah would give birth to the child of promise, and God’s covenant would be with him, not Ishmael. And even though Sarah had been past the age of childbearing, she did give birth, just as God had said, and they called him Isaac, as God had instructed.
But now tonight God had come to Abraham again, saying, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love … .“
Abraham’s heart had dropped to the pit of his stomach. He could feel the sweat cold on his temples, as he thought, “Lord, could this please not be a hard request, another stretching, another move beyond my comfort zone?”
He had wanted to cover his ears, but he could not cover God’s mouth, and God had continued as if he had not known Abraham’s desperate thoughts, as if it did not matter. “Go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will show you.“
A burnt offering? Isaac? A pain burned white in the back of his head. Abraham tried to think, to reconcile the words with the promise, with everything God had said before. He wanted desperately to unhear, to go on as if these last words had never been said. But God had spoken.
As much as he could not imagine how he would sacrifice his son, he knew he could not refuse the Lord. Even if he were foolish enough to imagine that he might ignore God and hold onto Isaac, what would any of it mean without God’s promise? What would life be without God? Everything he had, everything he hoped for was wrapped up in God.
As far as Abraham could tell, if God was going to keep his promise, Isaac had to live — even if it meant God bringing him back to life. What that would look like, only God knew. He had no doubt that God could be trusted. If only Abraham could understand the way he chose to do things.
Clouds drew a dark curtain over the stars, and Abraham finally succumbed to sleep, but he slept fitfully, and in his dreams he imagined the unimaginable: the knife clenched in his fist, Isaac’s body limp, and his blood. So much blood. In his dream, there was no resurrection, only a howl from the depth of his soul.
WHAT CAME BEFORE
Hagar | Collateral Damage
WHAT CAME AFTER
In the Shadow of the Mountain | The Sacrifice of Isaac: Part 2
Though I try to remain faithful to the events and characters as described in the Bible, I take some liberties where the Bible is silent, especially regarding what the characters might have thought or felt. I encourage you to read the original story: Genesis 22