*** Abraham—An Example for All Who Seek God’s Friendship
His Greatest Test of Faith
It is unlikely that any human father has had more love for a son than the aged Abraham had for Isaac. What a terrible shock it must have been, then, when he received this command: “Take, please, your son, your only son whom you so love, Isaac, and make a trip to the land of Moriah and there offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall designate to you.”—Genesis 22:1, 2.
It must have been hard for Abraham to understand the reason for this grievous command. Yet he displayed his usual prompt obedience. (Genesis 22:3) It took him three agonizing days to reach the selected mountain. There he built an altar and placed firewood on top. By this time, he must have explained God’s command to Isaac, who could easily have run away. Instead, Isaac permitted his aged father to bind his limbs and lay him upon the altar. (Genesis 22:4-9) To what can we attribute such obedience?
Abraham had faithfully carried out his responsibilities with respect to Isaac, as outlined at Genesis 18:19. No doubt he had impressed upon Isaac Jehovah’s purpose to resurrect the dead. (Genesis 12:3; Hebrews 11:17-19) Isaac, for his part, was the object of Abraham’s deep love and would have wanted to please his father in everything, especially when it involved doing God’s will. What a fine lesson this is for Christian families today!—Ephesians 6:1, 4.
Now came the climax of the test. Abraham took hold of the slaughtering knife. But as he was about to kill his son, Jehovah stopped him and said: “Now I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me.” (Genesis 22:11, 12) How richly Abraham was rewarded by hearing God’s own declaration of his righteousness! He could now feel sure of having measured up to what God requires of an imperfect human. More important, Jehovah’s prior estimation of his faith was vindicated. (Genesis 15:5, 6) After this, Abraham sacrificed a ram that was miraculously provided to replace Isaac. Then he heard Jehovah confirm, by sworn oath, the covenant promises. Later, he became known as Jehovah’s friend.—Genesis 22:13-18; James 2:21-23.
Abraham’s sacrifice was “illustrative.” (Hebrews 11:19) It typified the painful, costly sacrifice Jehovah God made when he sent his beloved Son to earth to die as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) And Isaac’s willingness to die illustrates how the Greater Isaac, Jesus Christ, lovingly submitted to the doing of his heavenly Father’s will. (Luke 22:41, 42; John 8:28, 29) Finally, just as Abraham received his son alive from the altar, Jehovah received his beloved Son back from the dead as a glorious spirit creature. (John 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18) How encouraging all of this is for seekers of God’s friendship today!