And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!... Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
The very thought of a loving father binding his son with ropes, laying him down on an altar, and raising a butcher’s knife over his head is the stuff of horror, not heroism, but let me reiterate again that this moral dilemma is not present in Abraham’s mind. Neither is the marvelous foreshadowing to Christ’s Passion. For him, this call of faith is a matter of simple math. One: Isaac is his miracle boy. Plus one: God promised to make Isaac a great nation. Equals two: God will provide a lamb in Isaac’s stead. Perhaps only when Abraham lifts the knife and meets his son’s terrified gaze does he begin to feel the crushing weight of the possibility that God might not come through this time: that God, like all those pagan gods, might actually accept the blood of this innocent boy as a sacrifice.
But of course our great God of love comes storming down to Isaac’s rescue! He wouldn’t waste a beloved child—not to test a patriarch’s faith and not even to save the world.