It made no sense. God had promised him more descendants than there were stars in the night sky, yet this promise seemed to have expired. So, at the suggestion of Abraham’s wife, Abraham attempted to assist God in bringing this plan to fruition. But God needed no assistance. In His own time, God gave Abraham one miraculously conceived descendant to mark the beginning of God’s promise of the abundant lives to come; yet now, God was asking that this one and only hope be sacrificed.
As we know from the story, Abraham was obedient and willing to surrender Isaac, even though God’s demand defied all worldly logic in light of His promise.
God asks us for our most precious things. Do you know this God? Do you follow God and accept this? Or do you follow God except for this? With good reason, many have worshipped God with fear and trembling, because they know of the ruthlessness, tenacity, and jealousness of God. And it is better to worship God cowering in fear of this, than to close our eyes to this part of who He is.
Those who follow God except for His call to surrender are perhaps trying to earn their Isaac, or are busy proving that their Isaac ought not be taken from them, perhaps because all they really want is Isaac.
Those who follow God in acceptance of His high demands know that this is often the only way a good God gets a stubborn, self-centered, self-dependent people to keep their eyes on Him. Maybe, they follow because they have tasted the fruits of sacrifice.
Sometimes we are tempted to assist God with the fulfillment of His promises, but God needs no assistance. He needs no specific thing, or circumstance, or person to fulfill His promises—only our surrender and obedience. Consequently, we too, need no thing, no circumstance, and no person to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises for us—only surrender and obedience.
Sometimes we have to sacrifice that which we think we need most in order for God’s plan to come to fruition. If we are truly seeking God, then our one and only necessity is God.
Sometimes God blesses our sacrifice and then gives it back to us. Sometimes He breathes life into the new space within us. Sometimes God takes Isaac without asking us first, and waits for us to realize the only real response: surrender. Sometimes He transforms a sacrifice into something else entirely.
There is another story similar to this in history—one with an even more extraordinary conception. As we read the Christ-as-man story, we see that Jesus’ only focus, His only will, was God. He modeled the life of surrender and obedience, serving as a conduit rather than an assistant to God. He was to be the one and only hope of a people who desperately needed a leader. He was promised to be a greater king than David. So imagine the thoughts of His disciples on the day Jesus let himself be killed. He offered Himself to God’s higher plan even before his followers had any real understanding of His kingdom. It was a despairing moment which defied all earthly wisdom. It made no sense. And yet today, in place of this sacrifice, we are offered eternal life.