iStock_000002887780SmallReDiscovered Word 3

Genesis 12, 15, 22, Hebrews 11:8-20

(Note: This is the first of two posts about Abraham and Isaac. I’ll publish the second one next week, and you’ll want to read them both in order to get the whole picture). 

He had to kill the boy. It would be next in the line of innumerable deaths in the old man’s life. This would be no glorious death on the battlefield, no quiet death in bed. It would be close, just the old man, his son, the knife, and God.

Yes, God would be there too. He would ascend the mountain with Abraham, quiet yet present. He would see every violent and terrible moment. God would watch Isaac die by his father’s hand.

Abraham shifted his feet and looked at the sky. So many stars. He had tried to count them once. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Abraham had felt old at the time. Certainly too old to leave home, to fight wars, to start a family. Tonight, though, he was ancient. He was one of the stars, having no beginning and no end, his origin long forgotten and his future uncertain. So many stars, but he was only one of them. A lonely and dim star at that.

Ever since the Promise, death had hounded his steps. Every day in this life of faith was a new death. Death to dreams, death to safety, death to nations. Death to sons.

But there was no other way. Abraham knew it, as sure as the approaching sunrise. The God who gave the Promise would fulfill it. God was unpredictable and even dangerous, but He was true. For four decades, Abraham had watched his own life unravel, with a mixture of awe and despair. Despite everything Abraham had lost, God remained his only provider, the only Living God. So there was nobody else to trust. The gods of Chaldea were safe, but they were impotent. The God of Abraham was often terrifying, but real. There was nobody else to trust. So he had to kill the boy.

Abraham knew in his heart that death was not the end. He would slay Isaac, but God would raise him. But it was the slaying that troubled him. Before the next sunrise, he had to raise the knife and plunge it into the heart of his beloved son. Resurrection would console Abraham’s grief, but would it assuage his guilt? What would he say to Isaac in the moment before the knife entered his chest? How could he even look at him during the long and quiet climb up Mount Moriah?

God had promised him descendants as numerous as the stars. He had promised blessing and land and life. Abraham would be the father of a great nation, a nation that would multiply like the stars and bless every nation on earth. Abraham knew that God’s word was true, but the pain was still so real. Did he have the strength to endure this terrible death, for the sake of the life God had promised?

Enough. The dawn was approaching and Abraham needed to prepare. What do you take to a human sacrifice? Water. Wood. Rope. Isaac.

The sun was rising. The stars were disappearing now. Maybe they were an illusion all along.

Time to get moving.

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