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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Archetypes of Christ - Isaac

Abraham's trial is a quintessential example for any of us experiencing sorrow or struggle.  Mirroring the format of my last post (an imagined mindview of the woman who sought to touch the hem of Jesus's cloak in order to be healed), I'd like to offer another story from the Bible: the binding of Isaac, or Akedah – this time from Isaac's perspective.


"Bind my wrists, papa."  I don't want to subconsciously rebel; I love my dad and will follow God’s will.  Isaac lifted his strong arms toward his aged father.  Abraham hesitated, but realized what his son was thinking and nodded as he picked up the straps.  "I trust you, dad."  Isaac said, as he climbed on the altar, laid down, and shut his eyes to the skies above.

It was only a few days earlier that the terrifying revelation had come.  Abraham had received many communications from God, but this one was incredibly alarming and confusing: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering.”

“Sacrifice him!?” Isaac had overheard his father exclaim to his mother that night.  “My own father tried to sacrifice me!  I thought this sort of practice was offensive to God!”

I’m his miracle baby, Isaac thought.  The one to fulfill the promises God made to him.  His heart ached as he considered his half-brother Ishmael, whom Abraham had already lost a few years before – it was tortuous to see him leave.  And now he’ll lose me – his chosen son, through whom humankind would be blessed.

“You know this is from God?” Isaac heard his mother inquire.  “Yes,” Abraham replied.  “He’s never led you astray before,” she assured.  “I haven’t always understood His methods or His timing, but I can’t deny the miracles He’s worked in our lives. I know you’ll do the right thing.”

“You’re right,” Isaac heard his dad finally declare.  “He’s promised Isaac will be a father to many.  If he really is to die now, I believe God could raise up our boy again to fulfill that promise.  He does not lie.”

Isaac's heart skipped a beat: I am to die, then.

The journey to Moriah had taken two days, and Abraham still hadn’t told his son what was to be.  I wonder how I should respond.  I should be scared.  Pain.  Suffering.  Death.  And yet… I am not afraid.  I see my life for what it is – a time to prove myself to God.  Could He really raise me back from the dead?

At the base of the mount, the small company stopped.  “We’ll need to take this wood to the top,” Abraham said, motioning to his servants.  Two men gratefully laid their burden upon Isaac.  This is heavy, he thought.  His back muscles ached as he balanced the load well enough to walk.

As the two made their way up the rocky climb, Isaac asked, “Where is our offering, dad?”  He doesn’t know I know.  “God will provide the lamb,” had been his answer to the question before.  I wonder how he’ll ask.  My every thought these past two days has been on how to respond.  I’ve tried to follow my dad and God throughout my life.  I’m not always the best, but I trust Them and I will try…

“The sacrifice… is to be you, my son.  I don’t totally understand why, but that is what the Lord has asked.  What do you think?  Would you…”

“Yes!” Isaac blurted out.  “Even if it was just you who asked, dad, I would do it.  But because I know it came from God, I am doubly willing.  My very life is a miracle and gift from God – I am willing to give it back.”

“My boy,” Abraham responded.  “You have been my support and strength for so long, but now will have to do so from the other side.”  As they finished their climb, they reminisced, recounting their blessed lives together.  Reaching their destination, they prepared the altar, and Isaac placed the load of wood upon it.

“Bind my wrists, papa.”  Isaac laid on the altar as his father tied his hands and feet.  “I trust you, dad.” He saw his dad’s trembling hands clench the knife, and just before his eyes closed, he caught a glimpse of his dad’s own eyes, painful yet determined.  He’s terrified, Isaac thought as he plunged into darkness.  And yet beneath that terror there’s a fire.  Faith.  Complete submission to the will of God.  A knowledge that regardless of what happens, things will be ok.

He could hear the robe rustle as his father raised the killing instrument.  Are things going to be ok??  Maybe I’m not really ready to die!  What about my family?  There’s so much more I want to do in life!  His arms reflexively strained against the bands that held him.  There must be another way!…

No.  There's no mistaken what must be done.  I can do this, he determined.  I will go to my God.  I will be what He asks of me.  He stopped fighting the restraints, and relaxed his arms, relinquishing himself completely.

Immediately, Isaac felt a wave of peace flow over him.  And then a warmth and bright light that pierced through his closed lids.  He opened them to a blinding figure above, gripping his father’s outstretched arm.  “Abraham,” the penetrating voice commanded, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad…”

My life is spared! Isaac rejoiced, his tears matching his overflowing emotions – and those of his father.  God be praised!

You were willing to give it all, Isaac felt a different Voice say to him.  You, indeed, shall fulfill all the promises I have made.  You have been saved, while I will face a different end when I, doing my Father’s will, offer myself up as Savior of the world.  These tests are meant to try you in the deepest way possible.  All will be tried as you and your father have.  Those hearts that can stand the wrenching will be fit for the kingdom of God.

A willing ram had come to offer itself, caught by devil’s snares to hold it back.  At the angel’s command, Isaac's place on the altar was turned over to the ram.

Isaac was caught up in the embrace of his father. “Well done, my son,” Abraham whispered.

“Thanks, papa,” Isaac answered as they started down the mountain.  “God did provide his own lamb in the end.  He has again given me the gift of life – I will make Him proud of how I use it.”



References: Genesis 22:1-19, Hebrews 11:19, “Antiquities of the Jews” by Josephus, “Power from Abrahamic Tests” by Truman Madsen

3 comments:

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  2. Another great insight, Spencer. I enjoyed reading the perspective of Isaac. This makes me ponder about how I react and respond to the Lord when faced with the trials in my life.

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  3. I love this. "Those hearts that can stand the wrenching will be fit for the kingdom of God." And the only way to actually stand the wrenching is to lay our lives on the alter and rely completely on the Savior (who Isaac is a type of in this case). Beautiful.

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