By faith Abraham when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, … accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19.
God had called Abraham to be the father of the faithful, and his life was to stand as an example of faith to succeeding generations. But his faith had not been perfect. He had shown distrust of God in concealing the fact that Sarah was his wife, and again in his marriage with Hagar. That he might reach the highest standard, God subjected him to another test, the closest which man was ever called to endure.
The Lord spoke unto him, saying: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,” “and offer him … for a burnt offering.” The heart of the old man stood still with horror. The loss of such a son by disease would have been most heartrending to the fond father, it would have bowed his whitened head with sorrow; but now he is commanded to shed the precious blood of that son with his own hand. It seemed to him a fearful impossibility. Yet God had spoken, and His word must be obeyed. Abraham was stricken in years, but this did not excuse him from duty. He grasped the staff of faith and in dumb agony took by the hand his child, beautiful in the rosy health of youth, and went out to obey the word of God….
Abraham did not stop to question how God’s promises could be fulfilled if Isaac were slain. He did not stay to reason with his aching heart, but carried out the divine command to the very letter, till, just as the knife was about to be plunged into the quivering flesh of the child, the word came: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad;” “for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
This act of faith in Abraham is recorded for our benefit. It teaches the great lesson of confidence in the requirements of God, however close and cutting they may be; and it teaches children perfect submission to their parents and to God. By Abraham’s obedience we are taught that nothing is too precious for us to give to God.