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Isaac's Faith And Obedience

Abraham was one of the most faithful people of Bible History; he is even referred to as the "father of the faithful," which has a double, and somewhat ironic, meaning. A defining test of Abraham's faith and obedience to God also involved a great amount of faith and obedience on the part of Abraham's son Isaac, who willingly and obediently submitted himself as the "lamb" in what would surely have been a fulfilled sacrifice of Isaac. At the time, Abraham was elderly, and Isaac was a nearing-manhood youth; Isaac could have overpowered his father, or at least outrun him, if he had chosen to resist his own imminent death, but he didn't. He too had faith.

Isaac's Faith And Obedience

It was intended only as an ultimate test, but only God knew that. As far as Abraham was aware in the days just before, and as Isaac was aware in the minutes just before, it was for real. God may have chosen the sacrifice of a son as the test because it was something that He would experience Himself - God knew that, centuries later, near the very same location of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, God would bring about the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ, and although in the hours just before His crucifixion Jesus may have had Isaac's near-sacrifice in mind when He asked "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39 RSV), that was a Sacrifice that would not be stopped.

Isaac A test of faith and obedience for Abraham, and Isaac:

"After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!"

"And he said, "Here am I."

"He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

"So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."

"And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!"

"And he said, "Here am I, my son."

"He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"

"Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together."

"When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of The Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"

"And he said, "Here am I."

"He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

"And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son." (Genesis 22:1-13 RSV)

Fact Finder: What does the New Testament have to say about the near-sacrifice of Isaac?
Hebrews 11:17-19
Note: these verses provide another symbolic parallel between Isaac and Jesus Christ, the "bringing back from the dead," i.e. "he considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back" (Hebrews 11:19 RSV)


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