I was talking to a friend about the new miniseries done by the History channel entitled The Bible. For me it’s kind of like, as long as the Gospel is being preached, who cares (Philippians 1:18)? I am only into the second part, but I wanted to talk about one particular scene in the series. It was when Abraham offers Isaac as a sacrifice. The boy who played Isaac was directed to show the struggle he had. He simpered over how tight the ropes were around his wrists, and bleated his concern of being made the sacrifice. Yet the whole scene left me pretty flat. I believe this interpretation is not what actually transpired in real life.
There is another movie that depicted this event, produced by Turner Classic Movies, which I feel hits closer to the mark. The movie was Abraham starring Richard Harris. This rendition brought me hope and life, but to be fair, there was a lot more time to depict the events leading up to the sacrifice, rather than showing just the sacrifice itself.
In Abraham, Isaac was taught by his father that he was to give his most loved and treasured lamb as the sacrifice to God. It wasn’t the weak, it wasn’t the lame, it wasn’t the flawed – no, it was the BEST. “Give the one you love the most, my son.” Abraham trained Isaac in the faith, and as a man of faith, he led him into the heart of worship as well.
With this bit of background to the story, you see Abraham’s favor on Isaac. You know Isaac would have realized that he was Abraham’s most cherished and loved choice if he was to be made the sacrifice. It’s amazing that this is what would have been communicated to Isaac. He was the most loved! WOW, who among us ever thinks of sacrifice this way?!
I believe that this is the message that should be brought forth from this scenario. Isaac didn’t go into that situation feeling like God hated him or that his father hated him. On the contrary, he knew that the sacrifice meant love. Abraham was taking his most treasured possession, the one he delighted in most, and that was communicated to Isaac in the transaction.
So does this mean it wasn’t a fearful thing for Isaac? No, of course not. I can’t imagine what it would feel like on that day to be Abraham’s sacrifice. We are human and we fear death – that is natural! But I don’t believe that Isaac left the encounter and slept with one eye open, so to speak. He didn’t go to bed each night after that in fear of this crazy man who might want to come and slit his throat. No, Isaac knew from the sacrifice that he was the most treasured in the clan.
Isaac represents a type of Christ, and Christ too knew that He was loved, most loved, by the Father. When God’s perfect order is followed, His love is communicated. And in Abraham, Isaac asks for his wrists to be tied tighter. Bind me tightly, father. He was yielded to the will of his father regardless of cost.
The story of Isaac is the story of one who is loved, cherished and treasured, but it’s also about a man’s first love. Abraham chose God over all others, including his son. Isaac was firsthand witness to this, and it was foundational training for how to honor God. As a type of Christ, Isaac’s rest lay in the father and his love for him. There wasn’t a struggle; there was a surrender. God isn’t going to ask of us something He Himself is unwilling to do.
So how does this personally affect us? Our surrender and obedience to God will ultimately always communicate the heart and ways of God. Though some may accuse or persecute us for being cruel, we are ambassadors of the Kingdom. As such, we convey the heart of the Living God as we walk in obedience to Him. And there is no higher gift to onlookers, because this is LOVE.