For a long time this story has troubled me. What kind of God tests the love of his creation by asking such a cruel thing of a father? And what kind of a father goes along willingly with the idea of sacrificing his child? Was it blind faith? Was it a symbolic request? Was it a religious delusion? Or did Abraham know something that the witnesses and story tellers didn't?
By the time this incident occurred, Abraham already had a longstanding relationship with God. He talked with God as naturally as a son to a human father. And when the Father spoke, Abraham was always ready with the response, "Here am I!" That is - Here I am, ready and willing to put full confidence in my God.
And we are told that "Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him."
Here is where the story gets interesting. "Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." What did Abraham see afar off? A place of impending human sacrifice? The place where a murder would be committed in God's name? What was the "place afar off" that Abraham saw then and there?
One thing is for sure: He moved forward with confidence and no fear. He said to his companions, "Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."
Abraham did go forward to the appointed place, exactly as God commanded. Laying wood on Isaac's back and taking his knife, father and son went together. And when Isaac questioned his father as to the whereabouts of the lamb for sacrifice, Abraham replied, "God will provide himself a lamb."
This leads me again to ask, was Abraham a liar? Was he hiding the truth from his son? or did he know his Father, his God, to be Life - the divine Life that gives and sustains life eternally, and could not, would not take it away?
The scene plays out quite dramatically. "And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son."
At this point an angel appeared and called to Abraham. He replied, "Here am I."
And the angel said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."
Abraham, again, lifted up his eyes. He saw a ram caught in a thicket, and this ram was offered for a burnt offering. And he named the place Jehovahjireh: which means, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
Remember, Abraham told the companions, "I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."
"I and my son will... come again to you." He said they would both come back. Did you catch that? I only recently did.
Abraham knew they would both come back. He told the truth.
What do you think Abraham saw when he lifted up his eyes? What was the it to be seen in Jehovahjireh?
Wishing all my Muslim friends and family the blessings of Eid al-Adha.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy