But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
Isaac was a bright boy. Earlier in this scene we read that he asked his father where their animal was for this sacrifice. He knew that the expectation was for something to give its life on the altar as their act of worship. When he was tied to that place and saw the hands of his father grasp the knife and hold it above him, his mind must have been racing. He would not have been ignorant of the fact that he was that day’s sacrifice. We do not know whether any words were exchanged between Abraham and Isaac in the moments when the son realized what his father was about to do. What we do know is that a voice from on high interrupted that process, a voice they both would have heard.
I would wager that Isaac for the rest of his life never forgot that day. His father was a God-fearing man who had led him in the ways of honoring the Lord. What he saw was a man who was so determined to obey God that he would sacrifice his own son. What he heard was a message from that very God, who recognized this act of obedience and rewarded it. Although the lasting effects of this encounter could have been fear and distrust toward his father, the legacy passed down from Abraham to Isaac was one of faith and trust. Abraham trusted in God’s request, and God did not let him down when he took those steps to carry it out. Isaac learned that day what it means to have full faith in the Lord’s provision no matter how things look.
Isaac was expecting to share in a time of worship with his father, and ultimately that is what he received. That spot was named as a remembrance that God always provides. He experienced firsthand a foreshadowing of God’s saving power and the price by which that would be provided to those who would come later. His own fear of God was born that day from his tasting God’s mercy and grace to save him from the altar of sacrifice. What Isaac learned from his father was that the Lord should be feared yet trusted because He is mighty yet gentle, powerful yet merciful. Father, thank You for your provision, your faithfulness and your unequaled saving power for those who call on your name.