Isaac had to decide what he would give God.
As Isaac knelt down by the lamb nuzzling his leg, he pulled a blade of grass and playfully tickled her nose. Suddenly she gave a little sneeze and Isaac chuckled softly.
Long ago, when he first began helping to herd the sheep, Isaac’s father Abraham had taught him that it was best not to become too fond of one particular sheep. Isaac had been careful to follow the instruction. He knew he could not keep any lamb as a pet forever. But this little one’s mother had died the night the lamb was born. In spite of himself, Isaac had become very attached to it, and it followed him wherever he went.
Isaac stooped down and picked up the lamb. Far across the field he could see his father leading the donkey from the stable. Isaac’s heart beat a little faster as he realized the donkey was loaded in preparation for a journey. He remembered some of the journeys he had taken with his father. They had always been special times of fellowship and of worshiping God. Quickly, he put down the lamb and walked toward the stable, the lamb frisking along behind him.
“Father, I see you are taking a journey,” Isaac said. He watched his father tie the last knots on the bundles.
“Yes, I must go,” Abraham answered—a little sadly, Isaac thought. “God has instructed me to go up to the mountain to offer a sacrifice to Him there. You will be going with me.”
Before long they were on their way down the dusty trail. As they walked along, Isaac remarked, “I’ve noticed the lambs in the fields as we’ve gone along. None are as nice as my special lamb. I suppose God would be very pleased if I would offer her as a sacrifice. But Father, I can hardly bear the thought. Do you think I am wrong to feel this way?”
Abraham was silent. Isaac was not sure what his father’s silence meant, and it troubled him. He wanted to reach out to his father, but he didn’t know what to say.
“Father, I would give the lamb if God required that of me. It’s just that it hurts so much to think of it. But I would do it. I know you would . . .”
Abraham stopped. He turned slowly to Isaac. Then he reached out and gently put his hand on Isaac’s shoulder. Their eyes met. Isaac could feel the deep love that flowed from his father to him. It made him glow inside. But then he noticed the tears. Crystal clear, they rolled down Abraham’s tanned cheeks and into his long, white beard.
“It would be a small sacrifice, Father,” Isaac said softly. “You have given many lambs to God.”
“It would be a great sacrifice, Isaac, because it is very precious to you. God sees that and is pleased, I know. When you give something to God in your heart, to Him it is as though you had given it already.”
Abraham said to the servants with them. “You stay here. Isaac and I will go and worship and come again to you.” Abraham took the wood off the donkey and placed it on Isaac’s back. Then he took the little pot with the fire in it and his knife. Together, he and Isaac went on.
After walking in silence for some time, Isaac spoke, “Father, I see we have the wood and the fire. But where is the sacrifice?”
“My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a sacrifice,” Abraham answered.
Isaac wondered at the things his father said. But he was sure his father knew the very heart of God. They trudged on up the mountain.
At last his father stopped and said, “This is the place God has chosen for the sacrifice.” Immediately Abraham went to work building the altar. When the wood was in order, he turned to his son. Isaac saw the look of anguish on his father’s face.
Suddenly Isaac realized the truth. He was to be the sacrifice! He was going to die! His heart nearly stopped. How could his beloved father consider doing such a thing? Then he looked at Abraham and saw the agony in his eyes. This was no rash decision of his father’s. It was something God must have commanded him to do. Though Isaac was strong enough to rise and flee, he would not.
As his father lifted the knife over him, Isaac shut his eyes and thought, I am taking my last breath. Then the voice came, “Abraham, Abraham, do your son no harm.” At God’s word, Abraham stopped. He turned and there in a thicket was a ram caught by his horns. This was the sacrifice God provided.
Later, as they walked down the mountain together, Isaac felt a deep peace. He knew when his father gave him up to God, it was the hardest thing he had ever done. Surely God must be pleased with his father’s obedience. Isaac was glad that he had willingly submitted to his father.
Thankful that his life had been spared, Isaac thought, I will offer my very own lamb to God.