Old Testament – From Genesis to the Prophet Jonah
The birth of their son brought great joy and celebration to the aged Abraham and Sarah. They named him Isaac and had him circumcised, as God had commanded.
As Isaac grew up, God opted to test Abraham’s faith. He said to him, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you”. (Genesis 22:2)
It must have been a devastating shock for Abraham! We can only but feebly try to imagine how he may have felt. God was asking him to take his son, whom so much of his future nation depended, on a three-day journey, execute him and present him as a burnt-sacrifice on an altar. Undoubtedly, Abraham would have quickly given everything else he possessed instead, but God asked for his son!
Early the next day, Abraham took two of his servants, prepared wood, saddled his donkey and set off for the land of Moriah with Isaac.
Arriving at Moriah, Abraham told his servants to wait with the donkey while they continued ahead to worship. As they walked together, Isaac carrying the wood, inquisitively asked his father, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering”? Abraham replied, “God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son”. (Genesis 22:7-8)
When they came to the spot chosen by God to make the sacrifice, Abraham built an altar, placed the wood on top of it, tied Isaac up and rested him on top of the wood. Then, as he raised a knife to make the sacrifice, an Angel of God called from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. “Do not harm the boy” the Angel said. “Do not do anything to him, for now, I know that you fear God because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me”. (Genesis 22:11-12)
Abraham, then seeing a ram caught in bushes, removed it and offered it as a burnt sacrifice to God.
God again spoke to Abraham and promised him that since he hadn’t withheld his son, “I will bless you… and… multiply your descendants so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore”. (Genesis 22:17) (Genesis 22:1-19)
In the past, Abraham selfishly lied to God; he told Pharoah, Sarah was his sister!
God was testing Abraham’s strength of faith in Him again; was God more worthy in his eyes than Isaac?
Lord God, You are my refuge and defence; guide me and lead me as you have promised. Keep me safe from the trap that has been set for me; shelter me from danger. I place myself in your care. You will save me, Lord; you are a faithful God. (Psalm 31: 3-5)
Prayer: Breastplate (St Patrick)
I bind unto myself today,
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need:
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort me and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.