Isaac's Faith And Obedience
It was intended only as an ultimate test, but only God knew that. As far as Abraham was aware in the days just before, and as Isaac was aware in the minutes just before, it was for real. God may have chosen the sacrifice of a son as the test because it was something that He would experience Himself - God knew that, centuries later, near the very same location of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, God would bring about the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ, and although in the hours just before His crucifixion Jesus may have had Isaac's near-sacrifice in mind when He asked "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39 RSV), that was a Sacrifice that would not be stopped.
A test of faith and obedience for Abraham, and Isaac:
"And he said, "Here am I."
"He said, "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 upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
"So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."
"And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!"
"And he said, "Here am I, my son."
"He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
"Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together."
"When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of The Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"
"And he said, "Here am I."
"He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
"And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son." (Genesis 22:1-13 RSV)
Fact Finder: What does the New Testament have to say about the near-sacrifice of Isaac?
Note: these verses provide another symbolic parallel between Isaac and Jesus Christ, the "bringing back from the dead," i.e. "he considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back" (Hebrews 11:19 RSV)
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This Day In History, September 3
1189: Richard I (Richard the Lion-Heart) was crowned king of England.
1260: The Battle of Ayn Jalut, a decisive victory of the Mamluks of Egypt over the invading Mongols, which saved Egypt and Islam and prevented the western expansion of the Mongol empire.
1658: Oliver Cromwell, "lord protector" of England, died at age 59.
1752: Britain and the American colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar (named after Roman Catholic Pope Gregory XIII - see Pope Gregory's Calendar), replacing the less accurate Julian calendar (named after Julius Caesar). To implement the new calendar, 11 days were officially omitted that year i.e. September 2 was followed by September 14. Some people rioted, accusing the government of stealing 11 days of life from them.
1783: The Treaty of Paris was signed between Britain and the newly-created United States, officially ending the American Revolutionary War.
1939: Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France and India declared war on Germany in response to Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland 2 days earlier. The beginning of the Second World War in Europe.
1940: The United States traded Britain 50 navy destroyers in exchange for rights to build an American military base in Newfoundland, which was then a British colony. Newfoundland joined Canada in 1948.
1944: British troops liberated Brussels.
1975: Viking 2 landed on Mars.
1978: Albino Luciani was coronated as Pope John Paul I. He died only 34 days later, some say under mysterious circumstances, at age 66. He was succeeded by Polish-born Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, 58, who took the name Pope John Paul II - the first non-Italian Catholic pope in 450 years.