What about Isaac?

The other day I shared about the negative space in the Bible. The idea came from my reading of Genesis 22 when I came across some of this negative space.

This is a beautiful passage with so much great content. There’s the faithfulness of Abraham, the prophetic statements and symbolism, the Messianic tie to Mount Moriah, and many many more great things to be taken from this passage. But the other day while I was reading it again I couldn’t help but ask, “What about Isaac?”

Let’s quickly go over the basic points of the story.

  1. God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac
  2. Isaac, carrying the very items with which his body is to be burned, notices that something is fishy since they have no sacrifice
  3. Abraham binds Isaac to the altar they built together
  4. Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac
  5. The angel of the Lord tells Abraham to stop
  6. Abraham and Isaac then proceed to sacrifice a ram they found in the brush

A nice little story tied neatly with a bow except for one problem…What about Isaac? Nothing more is said about him again until he meets his wife Rebekah. Genesis 24:67 has this to say.

Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Comforted after his mother’s death?! What about after his father tied him to an altar and tried to carve him like a thanksgiving turkey? I don’t know about you but I think I would need some comforting and maybe a restraining order after an event like that. There are so many questions as I ponder, “What about Isaac?”

  1. Do you think that Isaac dealt with father rejection issues after that? I mean most dads just neglect there kids but Isaacs almost killed him. One attempted murder trumps a lifetime of neglect.
  2. Do you think they talked about it afterwards or was that the quietest walk back down the mountain ever?
  3. Do you think Isaac heard the angel of the Lord or was it like we hear God now, more in our own hearts? Some might suggest that if he did that might ease the shock of the situation. I’m not sure. Isaac: Oh wait! you weren’t just going to kill me because you wanted to? God told you to do it? Whew! I thought it was just… WAIT! GOD TOLD YOU TO KILL ME!!! AND YOU LISTENED!!!
  4. I wonder if Isaac ever told that story to his sons? Esau & Jacob fussing about doing their chores and Isaac is all like, “You think your life is hard? When I was your age your grandfather tied me to an altar and almost sacrificed me to Yahweh. And I had to carry the wood for the altar, up a mountain, both ways.”

In all seriousness, I just can’t imagine what Isaac must have felt during or after that event. Rejection, fear, loneliness, helplessness. These are just some of the emotions I imagine when I try and put myself in his place. Then I think of another journey up this same mountain many many years later.

Jesus, also carrying the wood that He would be laid upon, walks to the place of his sacrifice. His Father’s hand was not stayed. The only voice from God was not the Father putting an end to this horrific scene, it was the voice of the Son.

The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Mark 15:34 (MSG)

There aren’t many of us who can relate to Isaac’s story or could even comprehend what he might have felt. It’s comforting to know however that there is someone who understands all the feelings we do and don’t understand. He’s felt them more strongly than we could ever imagine and He’s ready to experience them again with us.