The Obedience & Fear of Isaac
Although it is good to stress the faith of Abraham as we have done in Genesis 22, it is worthwhile to consider the obedience of Isaac as well. Isaac's age is not revealed in this chapter though we know he was old enough to understand what was necessary for a sacrifice and he was old enough to carry the necessary wood. Perhaps he was a teenager (or maybe a bit younger or older). Regardless, he was not so naive that he didn't understand what was happening as his father began to bind him in order to lay him on the altar (cf. Gen. 22:9)! Isaac had asked earlier about the lamb and Abraham avoided an explicit answer: "God will provide." What must have been going through the young man's mind as his father began to bind him? "God has provided me as the lamb?!" "What is my father doing?!" Or perhaps Abraham explained what was going on to him at that point and Moses simply did not record it for us. We don't know enough to know exactly how he may or may not have responded to his father's actions here. But, we do know that if Isaac is strong enough to carry the wood for the offering, then he is old enough to resist his father physically (or at least make an effort to do so, if desired). Again, the text is silent on this point as well. We know Abraham didn't resist God's will on this matter, and there is no indication that Isaac resisted Abraham's will. Such is incredible! It seems that Isaac, like his father, would submit when one in authority called on him to do so.

What would it have been like to be that young man tied to the altar? What agony he would have endured as his father raised the knife and prepared to kill him! Truly, Isaac appears to be a worthy recipient of the Abrahamic covenant God would renew with him (cf. Gen. 26:1-6). This experience, though he submitted to it, would have been traumatic to Isaac, likely for life - "And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son" (22:10). This might give us some insight into Jacob's comments in Genesis 31:42,53, where he mentions "the Fear of Isaac" yet the context indicates he is referring to deity! No one but Isaac referred to God as "Fear" in the Scriptures. I can think of no better reason for this than his experience on the altar in Genesis 22! Isaac obeyed God, but there may have been a very real sense in which he was terrified of Him well beyond the days of his youth. Every sacrifice he offered to God may have been exceedingly emotional for him. He had a good understanding, no doubt, of what it meant for God to provide a substitution sacrifice for him. Do we have this comprehension today?

Friends, the Scriptures teach us that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7). A healthy respect, reverence, and even a bit of terror of the Almighty is a good thing to have. May we today fear God to the fullest!

Before leaving this fascinating narrative in Genesis 22, it might be of benefit to point out an interesting type/anti-type relationship between Isaac and the Christ. Since this relationship is not specifically mentioned in the New Testament (as many are), we must be cautious and not dogmatic about these points of similarity.

One significant difference between the two is that Jesus actually died (He was not spared at the last moment like Isaac). Jesus was (and is) the substitute sacrifice for us; a ram was a substitute sacrifice for Isaac.