After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
(Genesis 22:1 NRSV)
Don’t say to God “Here I am” unless you really mean it. God will take you up on your offer.
The dealings between God and Abraham were unusual, to say the least.
God had promised Abraham a son, but God was slow in delivering on that promise. Sarah was well past the age of childbearing when three men appeared before Abraham. Being a good host, he offered them food and drink. The men told Abraham that his wife would bear him a son.
Sarah, inside the tent, laughed out loud. She knew better. Or thought she did!
The Lord then spoke to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”
But Sarah compounded her mistake by denying that she had laughed. The Lord said, “Oh, yes, you did laugh.” (Note to self: Don’t argue with the Lord!) God was as good as His word, however, and Sarah did indeed bear a son in her old age.
Then comes one of the most suspenseful and painful stories in scripture. The Lord instructs Abraham to take his only son Isaac – this yearned-for miracle child! – and offer him for a burnt offering on a mountain to which God would lead him.
What a terrible, horrific test!
At this point in the story, I always envision the rendition in the movie “The Bible.” I can see Abraham’s upraised arm, his hand holding the knife that would sacrifice that precious, prayed-for son.
God’s brinksmanship always makes me uncomfortable, until I remember that God watched His own Son die, with no lamb to take His place!