Then he said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.” (Genesis 22:12)
Abraham was a faithful man, after all, he is considered the father of faith. Abraham even believed that “God was able to raise [Isaac] up, even from the dead” (Heb. 11:19). Yet Abraham was still human and he carried the same emotions we do. Every moment from Abraham first receiving the command to take Isaac, the son “whom he loved,” to the mountain and sacrifice him must have been filled with confusion, grief, anxiety, and sadness. He probably questioned why God, the very one who had promised him so much through his son, would ask him to sacrifice him. Abraham likely mulled over this command through the sleepless nights, watching his son carry his own funeral pyre for days, culminating in holding back the floodgate of tears as he bound his son to the altar. This was not something that Abraham wanted to do. Don’t get God wrong here—he is not commanding child sacrifice, but has asked Abraham to pre-enact God’s own sacrifice of Jesus, His only begotten son, pointing to the promise that would be fulfilled through Jesus on the cross and revealing the Father’s deep love for us.
In the context of Scripture, all becomes clear. If Isaac is a parallel of Jesus, then Abraham is a parallel of God. Among the many other things the text tells us, we are reminded that God the Father is not a far off God who merely created the universe but is not a part of it—He is the father that runs toward his returning son in compassion. He is the Father who experienced and understands the pain of loss so that Abraham did not have to. Like Abraham, God did not withhold His son from us. The familiar verse reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). As Christians do we truly understand how much God loves us and how much more it should shape our actions and thoughts? Because of His love, we can go to God in comfort with all we experience because He knows and understands.