Abraham looked up the tall mountain ahead.
He glanced back and watched Isaac petting their donkey that was piled high with bags for the trip. How am I going to do this? Abraham thought. God wants me to give Him Isaac. Abraham’s heart hurt as he thought about it. Isaac was his son, his only son, and he loved him so much. He had waited such a long time to be his daddy and God had promised Abraham that His Rescuer was going to come through Isaac’s family! Abraham scratched his head, confused. How is God going to bring the Rescuer through Isaac if he dies now as a sacrifice? Abraham didn’t know the answer, but he knew God must have a plan. God always did. So with a heart that was both sad and trusting, Abraham kept going.
After much walking and climbing, they reached the spot God had told to Abraham. Abraham prepared for the sacrifice—built an altar, laid out his firewood, and brought forth his precious offering, Isaac. It was time. Abraham got out his knife, his heart beating fast and stomach fluttering with butterflies. He sucked in a breath and thought one last time, God has a plan. I trust Him. A tear trickled down his face. His hand clutched the knife, and he shakily raised it above his son.
A voice pierced the still air. “Stop!” Abraham’s heart leapt into his throat. “Abraham!” the angel shouted, “You trust God! He sees that you trust Him! You were willing to do whatever He said, even though it was so hard.” Just then, a ram skittered in the bushes. Abraham grabbed the ram by a horn and dragged it to the wood pile. He undid the rope that bound Isaac and swooped him up into a great happy hug. God had given Abraham something else to sacrifice instead of Isaac.
Abraham was ready to give up Isaac, his most precious thing in all the world. This shows us that Abraham’s heart believed God loved him and wanted good things for him. God’s heart toward His children is full of love and desires good things for us. To show us His heart, God gave up what was most special to Him. He gave up His Son, Jesus, for us.
Remember when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden? Their hearts asked, Does God really love us? That question is a big question. It’s one all of our hearts ask. God wanted to answer this question once and for all so He gave up His Son, His only Son, whom He loved. You and I can look at Jesus and hear God’s response, the loudest, “Yes!” in all the world.
Think about something that is special to you. Maybe it’s a toy you love, a best friend or sibling. What would it feel like for you to have to give that up? What do you think it felt like for God to give up His Son, His only Son, whom He loved so, so much?
In the Bible, God sometimes tells His people to do hard things. He told Abraham to give up Isaac, He told David to fight Goliath, and He told Paul to go to some hard places and talk about Jesus. Is there anything hard that God has told you to do?
This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.