This is one of the more difficult passages in scripture. We struggle to see how a 'good God' could ask so much of Abraham. The life of the child of promise Isaac? Really?
1. The child of promise was central to God's Covenant. Isaac's life was already in the hands of God. Could it be that Abraham needed to remember that? Abraham had, on several occassions, attempted to take matters into his own hands and tried to put God on the sidelines. Could it be that God chose this act to let Abraham know that the life of 'His People' must be always and forever in the hands of God? This Covenant Family was going to produce the ultimate child of promise - Jesus Christ.
2. How could Abraham unquestioningly take Isaac to the mountain and lay his life down? We musn't forget that Abraham had gone through a long and fruitful life. He had more experience in 'faith' than most anyone who has ever lived. Each step of faith that Abraham took solidified this fact - 'I can trust my God'. Each time he made mistakes he re-inforced this fact - 'I cannot trust my decisions the way I can trust God'. So when God asks him to follow this incredible, sacrificial act, Abraham's trust outweighs his doubt.
3. What a picture of true love. Abraham loved God enough to give the life of his one and only son. Years later, God would show His love for us in that He would give freely of the life of His one and only Son - Jesus. On the mountain, Abraham heard the voice of God tell him to stop while God provided the sacrifice of a Lamb who was held in place by in the thicket. On a mountain where Jesus was being Crucified (the sinless Lamb of God) there was no voice saying stop and there was no other sacrifice being offered in His stead. Why? None would do. The perfect, sinless life of Jesus was what was needed to cover our sinful lives in sweet forgiveness.
Has God ever asked you to lay something down that seemed 'too big' or 'too hard'? I promise that if He has asked then it is for your own good to listen and trust His Way over your own.