When I was 16 my father and I climbed a mountain. We were in Yosemite National Park. We used to live just a few hours from there and to this day it is my favorite place on earth. In the past we had hiked up into Tuolumne Meadows to various mountain lakes. But on this occasion we were headed towards Half Dome. We were not planning on going to the summit, but only to some of the falls along the way. I knew what we were doing and why we were doing it. I knew I was going enjoy sharing the day with my dad.
Isaac once climbed a mountain with his father, Abraham. It was not a recreational journey. They were going to worship (Gen. 22:5). Still, as a teenage boy, you can imagine that Isaac anticipated the moments he was going to spend with his father. Isaac carried the wood and Abraham carried the fire and the knife. As they ascended Mount Moriah, Isaac began to wonder why they did not have an animal with them for the sacrifice.
Abraham explained to his son that God was going to provide it. What Isaac did not know is that God had decided that Isaac was to be the offering. Yes, Isaac–God’s gift to Abraham and Sarah. So when they had come to the place of sacrifice, Abraham built an altar, laid the wood on it, and tied Isaac up on top of it and stretched out his knife to slay his son (Gen. 22:10).
It brings into one’s mind to consider what Isaac was thinking. When his father began to tie him up, was he afraid? Did he ask his father why? Did he fight any? The Bible does not say. What is revealed is that Abraham drew the knife back. He was going to do it. He was going to obey God no matter what.
The rest of the story is well known to the Bible reader. God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac, and a ram was provided instead. But that still leaves us with the question – What did Isaac learn?
I have climbed some mountains with my father, and I imagine you have climbed a few with yours. Some mountains are not located on maps, and cannot be scaled on foot. But life brings us tests and struggles. Our will is challenged. Our obedience is demanded. Our faith is proven. It is in the faith that we display on these mountains that we learn the greatest lessons in life.
I am certain that Isaac never forgot that trip with his father. I am certain that he learned about faithful and willing obedience. I am certain that he learned to fear God. In fact, later in Genesis, God is literally called “the Fear of Isaac” (Gen. 22:42, 53). Faith from a father was thus given to a son forever.
If you have had a father that respected and feared God, be thankful. The faith of our fathers is living still.
Faith of our fathers, living still, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy, whenever we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.
~ Frederick Faber and James G. Walton