I watched Isaac grow and every day brought more joy than the previous one. I never ceased to be amazed at the miracle that was Isaac; born after twenty four years of promise, to a one hundred year old man and a post-menopausal ninety year old woman. My heir, God’s heritage.
Unlike Ishmael, my first son, Isaac was a quiet young man, reserved and loved nature. He goes with the herdsmen to feed the flock and goes hunting every once in a while but he preferred the indoors and would stay in the tent and meditate.
Also, he took a liking to the things of Yahweh and would spend hours quizzing me about Him. I watched with paternal pride his growing love for Yahweh and his wisdom. He spoke like a much older man and even the servants noticed this and treated him with respect.
One day he asked me about Ur. Before then, I had not thought about my land of nativity for a long time. He asked me what it was like growing up there and whether I preferred there to Canaan. I smiled as the memories of my childhood flooded me and I felt a sense of nostalgia. I remembered Nahor, my brother and wondered how he was faring. Did he have a child now? Like me, he too had been barren for a long time. I decided then to send word to him to check on his affairs.
Isaac must have noticed the nostalgic look on my face because his next question was unexpected and caught me by surprise. ‘’Do you ever think of going back?’’ his eyes were radiating innocence as I looked into their depth. I knew at that moment why God had chosen him to be the heir to the promise. Even at a tender age, I had not seen this kind of innocence in Ishmael. I sighed and closed my eyes
‘’yes, sometimes, I get tired of living like a stranger in a foreign land and remember what it was to be a well-respected man in Ur. I was even being considered to take over from one of the elders at his death. I miss home sometimes and wonder when the promise of God would be fulfilled.’’ I looked at him then and paused letting him know the importance of what I was about to pass to him ‘’at those times, I pray to Yahweh and He usually comforts me’’
I related to him some of the visitations of Yahweh and how he told me that my seed after me will be great and told him that meant him. His eyes had widened and then his brows furrowed like he was trying to grapple with the piece of information. After a while he nodded.
I continued. ‘’no matter how I long for home, I never want to step back there. The best thing that has happened to me is meeting with Yahweh and He has a far better plan for me and my lineage and even if I don’t live to see it, I trust in Him to fulfill it. He has never failed and you my son are a living proof of His faithfulness’’
He smiled and I ruffled his head. He blushed slightly. He was becoming too old for this open display of affection I realized but I just couldn’t bring myself to stop and sweet boy that he was, he hasn’t protested one day.
‘’promise me something son’’ I said when he looked at me. He nodded and I continued ‘’do not ever go back to my root, not for any reason!’’
A look of confusion crossed his face but he nodded. ‘’I promise’’ he said slowly.
‘’good. Now run along and go play with your mother, I am sure she will be fretting already’’
He smiled at that and ran off.
I sighed and looked up to heaven. I realized at that moment just how blessed I was.
How then do you give that all up?
It is the hardest thing in the world. Now I know how important the world meant to God when He gave up His only begotten son as a sacrifice to redeem the world. It is only something that means more to you than anything in the world that would make you give up your only son as a sacrifice, and only God was that thing.
The night that Isaac turned twenty one, I had an encounter with God. The day had been full of wining and dining and feasting. I slaughtered twenty one cows and twenty one sheep each one for one year of my son’s life. I called everybody to the feast to celebrate with me as Isaac came of age. He was now an adult officially and can assume full responsibilities as my heir.
I had fallen asleep almost immediately as I lay on the bed, tired but fulfilled. I can take some time off work now I thought as I drifted off to sleep, and allow Isaac handle part of the business. He had demonstrated proficiency and was a wise man.
The encounter was unlike the others, it was vivid and the Lord did not appear to me like He usually did. I saw myself going on a journey alone, eastward towards the land of Moriah. I was on a donkey and another rode beside me, laden with firewood. I got to a mountain and tied the donkeys and then carried the firewood up the mountain. I was panting by the time I got to the top. I rested a bit before arranging the firewood and setting fire to it. While the fire burned, I looked about and wondered where the lamb for the sacrifice was.
‘’where is the sacrifice’’ I said aloud.
It was then that the Lord appeared to me. His face was grim as he said ‘’your son is the sacrifice. Take your son, your only begotten son to this mountain that I have showed you and sacrifice him to me there’’
I woke up. I was drenched in sweat and my heart was pounding against my chest. My eyes were wet with tears and drops spilled as I sobbed quietly. It didn’t make any sense for God to promise me that in Isaac shall the promise be fulfilled and yet ask me to sacrifice him.
I left the tent and walked towards the field. The night air was cold but I was sweating. I barely saw where I was going from the tears that blinded me. When my legs could not carry me anymore, I knelt down and wept.
I opened my mouth severally to pray but I could not get a word past the lump in my throat. I was in agony. Years later, one man experienced similar agony as he pleaded with his father to deliver him from what he must do but which he didn’t want to do. ‘’let this cup pass over me’’ he cried.
I struggled with God, struggled with the command and struggled with the decision I had to make. God could not just take my son from me! ‘Your son?’ a part of me asked quietly ‘he was given to you by God, and the same God that gave you is asking that you give him back. Will you withhold that which belongs to God from Him?’ Even though I realized the truth of those words, it still didn’t make it any easier.
I didn’t take note of the passage of time but as the first light of dawn was touching the eastern sky, I finally let go. I surrendered to His will
‘’I will do as You say’’ I managed to say in a voice barely above a whisper. Surprisingly, I felt a wave of peace as I made the decision. Just like the man at the garden of gethsemane surrendered ‘’not my will but Yours be done’’ and rose victoriously to purchase eternal salvation for all who believe.
I digress. That was the greatest story of all time and it makes me wonder how much love God has for mankind that he would allow his only begotten son to go through so much pain and to offer His free gift to all who believe in His son.
Okay. Back to my story
I stood up and went back to the tents to get ready for the day. I instructed the servants to saddle the horses and get firewood and load it on a donkey and prepare to leave at first light. I went to Isaac’s tent and roused him and told him to get ready for a journey.
We set out at first light but I did not tell Sarah of the mission. I could not. How will I explain to her that the child that she had waited twenty four years to birth was going to be sacrificed at an altar in the land of Moriah?
It took three days to get to Moriah. Three of the hardest days of my life. Oh how doubts plagued me every waking moment and my dreams filled with dreams of turning back. It took every ounce of strength in me not to break down and turn back. My eyes followed the boy’s every movement, his face and physique, committing them to memory to be called up when he is no more. Deep down however, I knew I didn’t have to worry, God would bring him back to life and we would return home together. I remembered the statement He made to Sarah when He had visited in the plains of Mamre ‘’is anything too hard for the Lord?’’
At the foot of the mountain, we left the servants and Isaac carried the firewood while I carried the fire and we made our way towards the mountain.
‘’father’’ Isaac called breaking into my thoughts ‘’I see the fire and the firewood but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?’’
My heart cut on hearing this. I wanted to break down and cry. Instead I looked away and said in a gruff voice ‘’The Lord Himself would provide’’. He looked confused but he kept quiet
On the mountain, I ordered him to set the firewood down and then built an altar of sacrifice and laid the firewood on top. Isaac watched quietly and when I was done I turned to him and looked him in the eye and in that moment he knew he was the sacrificial lamb.
I could not help the tears that dropped. I had already lost a son and now I was about to lose another. He didn’t argue as I tied him up and laid him on the altar. Till today I am still amazed at his devotion and spirit. He could have struggled and wrestled with me and won, I was over a hundred years old and he had the strength of youth on his side.
I blindfolded him and reached for the knife. I laid my hands on his head and muttered a few words of prayers. My hands were shaking as I brought the knife closer to his neck. I inhaled deeply and willed myself to be strong. The Lord was able I kept repeating over and over in my mind. The knife was now on his neck and I was about to press it deeply into his skin when I heard a loud voice from behind me.
”Abraham’’ the voice called and I turned to look but saw no one. “Abraham’’ it called again
‘’here I am’’
‘’don’t lay your hands on the child, and don’t hurt him! Now I know that you fear God and would not even withhold your son whom you hold dear from me’’
A wave of relief washed over me. It was a test, and I had passed.
He showed me a ram caught in a thicket not far from where I was and I was absolutely sure it wasn’t there before.
Jehovah Jireh, God provides, I named the place.
I untied my son and embraced him and wept openly on his neck. He held me tight and sobbed quietly.
That day God blessed me afresh and there he confirmed the covenant with my lineage. That experience changed me profoundly. It impacted on Isaac deeply too though he never did talk about it.
If I could sacrifice my only son, my promised heir to God at His bidding, what is it that is too hard for you to sacrifice to Him? Not even yourself as a living sacrifice like he has commanded his followers of the new covenant.
All you need to do is to surrender. Like I did.
This is the end of my tales
I hope you have learnt from my life
I pray that you will pass that test that you are about to face or that you are facing right now.
Thanks to all who have followed the series from the beginning till now. Your comments are well appreciated and I hope you stick around for more.
Thanks and God bless
Shout out to Yemie, for her constant comments and encouragements. You rock!