Gen 22:1-18 NRSV
1 After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 2 He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you." 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you." 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8 Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the LORD: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice."
There are so many rich aspects to this story. The foreshadowing of God sacrificing his son as a substitute for our sin is especially powerful. Isaac, the one through whom all Israel will descend and all the nations of the earth will blessed, receives a death sentence. But God intervenes and provides a substitute, just as the nation and the world are sentenced to death through sin and God provides his son as the substitute.
The key point I want to emphasize is Abraham’s action. Cain, as well as the people at Babel , sought to create a civilization. The wanted a sense of immortality apart from God. In contrast, Abraham followed where God led. He circumcised his people. He waited patiently for his son Isaac, the child of promise. He finally had his son Isaac. Sacrificing Isaac was not just giving up a son. From a human perspective, it was giving up Abraham’s hope of immortality. Yes he had Ishmael, but Isaac was the one who would make him “immortal.” For one trapped in the “eternal present” mirage of human culture, God was asking the unthinkable.
There is no evidence that Abraham ever flinched. He did not tell Sarah and he did not tell his servants what he is up to when they reached the place of sacrifice. It seems likely they would have given opposition. Isaac did not resist upon discovery of his fate, apparently sensing that it was all of God.
The choice Abraham had was between the gift and the giver. Cain and Babel chose the gift and rebelled against the giver. They created illusions to justify their behavior. Abraham chose the giver and opted to believe that his human knowledge was illusion. He trusted God would do what he promised and in spite of the illusions.
So Abraham called that place "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."