Whenever we hear the phrase “one and only son” we instinctively recite John 3:16 and recognize this concept of sacrifice as being a demonstration of true love and desperation – not our desperation for him, although this should be the case, but His desperation for us. This is not the “one and only son” I am alluding to, however it’s connection is not to be overlooked.
In Genesis 22 Abraham was faced with a test which would determine the condition of his heart. God placed before him a physical requirement which would illuminate his inner spiritual condition. It makes sense that God would test him. How far had he come? From doubting the promise of God to lying about his relationship with Sarah it is clear that Abraham, much like all of us, did not have a short list of short-comings. Now that the fulfillment of God’s promise was becoming clearer with the birth of Isaac, would Abraham become complacent? He was getting older and his days were limited. He was estimated to be 115-120 years old when God tested him… and it was not minor test.
At the culmination of his life would he be willing to sacrifice everything he had lived for to He who offered the promise? Isaac represented all that Abraham did right. He was the portrait of future blessing and honored faith and for God to now require Isaac’s life was to not only strip the accomplishments of the Abraham’s past but to also jeopardize the very future of God’s promise. This was not an easy test. This was a test at the end of a man’s life which would determine how he would be remembered. Very few old men would be willing to surrender their accomplishments so readily if it would mean their very name and marks on humanity would vanish (especially after so great a promise).
Add to the weight of the decision the intimate relationship of father and son. The son trusts the father (although today we would not be able to stay silent. We would make a Facebook page asking people’s opinion or start a “Defend Isaac” non-profit). Isaac believes in his father. Why would he not? He had likely heard many times about God’s promised to Abraham. To believe that God would provide the sacrifice would not be hard, especially when he knew the promise.
The son trusted the father even when he realized that HE was the sacrifice. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son revealed his commitment to his father, just as Isaac’s surrender to the sacrificed proves his trust for Abraham.
How powerful is this story!? To be afforded the luxury of seeing the total picture and recognizing that God was not asking Abraham to a level of commitment He himself was not already preparing to demonstrate through Jesus. I can only imagine how proud God was to see Abraham trust in Him. I can only imagine how this pride was magnified when His son, Jesus, had emptied himself to take on the sins of humanity and be sacrificed for others.
This is the tale of two “one and only’s”. What a beautiful connection to the father of many nations and the redeemer of those very nations.