Since my son was born, the story of Abraham and Isaac has become much more difficult to swallow. The thought of struggling to have a child, only to be called to literally take his life by my own hands seems impossibly far-fetched and unnecessary.
The part that strikes me the most in this story is the lack of information we have from the biblical account about the journey to the mountain where Isaac was to be sacrificed. Maybe it was one of those gut-wrenching moments where nothing seemed appropriate to say. As I read the story, I want so badly to know what the conversation was like. Could Abraham even look at his son without feeling the grip of what must have felt like hell itself tearing his heart out?
As Abraham stood with Isaac and his servants at the base of the mountain, Abraham’s humanity must have been screaming, “NO! Don’t do this! You’re misinterpreting what God is telling you! God is wrong! This is impossible! You can’t do this to your son!” But miraculously, Abraham trusted God. God told Abraham that he would use Isaac to continue his entire redemptive plan of history.
This is the point where our thinking comes completely unraveled. What I said seemed unnecessary was actually pivotal to this world’s very salvation. While it was unnecessary for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, it was entirely necessary for God to send his Son to earth to be born in the flesh in order to save us. Only Jesus, being both fully God and fully human, could keep the whole law and be the perfect sacrifice on behalf of all who believe in him alone for salvation.
God has promised us that his Son’s blood is sufficient to justify us completely before his holiness. Christians say they believe that. God also promises us that he will take care of us, even when our entire existence is falling apart. Christians say they believe that too. But over the last year, I’ve learned something that will always stick with me.
When God calls us to the base of the impossible mountain, he completely means for us to climb it. He’s there with us the entire way. He doesn’t expect us to do it by our own strength, but to lean into his. Once we get to the top, we will see what he wants to show us, and we will never be disappointed. God has never called me to the base of a mountain that, when I finally reached the top, I didn’t stand in awe of what I was seeing on the other side.
Unfortunately, all too often, our flesh-laden idols prevent us from ever setting foot on the trail. It comes through in a desire to do nothing but preserve what we are comfortable with, rather than press forward and grow. It’s about our purpose and our plan—not God’s.
God’s call for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was saturated in his purpose for his glory to be seen by the world. God fulfilled that purpose, and Abraham’s response was exactly what it should have been after God stopped him. Worship. What’s remarkable is that worshiping God as he deserves is what he has set us free in Christ to do each time we make the impossible climb.