God said to Abraham, “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 on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” — Genesis 22:3
Abraham may have laughed when God promised him a son in his old age, but it was no laughing matter when God asked Abraham to sacrifice that very same son.
The son’s name was Isaac, meaning “laughter.” Isaac would become Joseph’s grandfather, thanks to how his father, Abraham, had taught him to trust God.
It’s unimaginable how different the world might be today if Abraham and Isaac (Sarah must have known what was happening, too) had not trusted God on that day. God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. One might think Abraham went along with the request simply because he was keeping his promise of obedience to God. But wasn’t it more than that? Abraham was more than obedient to God; Abraham trusted God.
That trust must have been instilled into Isaac, too. He climbed up onto the makeshift altar and allowed his father to bind him and prepare the fire around him. Perhaps they were both remembering the many nights they had sat around another fire when Abraham would tell Isaac about God’s promise of descendants more numerous than the stars. They knew if Isaac was sacrificed, God’s promise to Abraham would be broken.
God doesn’t break promises. As Abraham stretched out his arm with a cleaver to slaughter Isaac, an angel appeared to stop the sacrifice. A ram charged out of the brambles to take Isaac’s place.
Can God be trusted to keep his promises?
The Israelites were reminded of God’s faithfulness in I Chronicles 16:15-19: Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed as a statute to Jacob, as an everlasting covenant to Israel, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an inheritance.”
We are reminded today in Galatians 4:28: Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.