G-d moved up several notches on the scale of Abraham’s faith when one day he told Abraham – who was by that time at least one hundred and thirteen, for he had been one hundred years old at the birth of Isaac20- “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”21
Isaac was the only son of divine promise, born of the will, power and Spirit of G-d, while Ishmael was Abraham’s son born of the will and power of the flesh.
This divine request was beyond being shocking, unreasonable, unfathomable – it simply could not be. G-d loathed, utterly abhorred human sacrifices. Yet Abraham did not argue with the Almighty. He did not even ask the reason for such a dreadful request.
No, he just rose early in the morning before Sarah was up, took two of his young men and Isaac, split some wood where nobody could hear it for the burnt offering, and left. He did not tell anybody what G-d had commanded him to do: not to Sarah, not to Isaac, and not to Eliezer his most trusted servant. Had he told any of them they would have tried to prevent him from carrying out this deed.
Surely, they would have argued, Abraham could not have heard this from G-d; without a doubt he had misunderstood the Almighty. He would be putting G-d to the test with such an abhorrent act, and it could only end in utter tragedy.
This was worse than being a “bunny-trail,” this was sinning against G-d, against Isaac and Sarah, bringing G-d’s curse upon them and utter grief. G-d would never require a human sacrifice, much less Isaac, the very miracle of a son given to them by G-d Himself. Abraham anticipated this and hence tried to avoid it by literally sneaking off before anybody could ask a single question why he was taking off with Isaac and split wood.
Can we even begin to imagine what Abraham felt and thought and pondered those three days22 of his journey toward Moriah?
The demand G-d made is not even comparable with a father willing to have his son serve as an elite soldier who would be sent onto very dangerous missions and could get killed in the service to his nation. It is not comparable to a father losing his son to an act of terror, or in a shoot-out where the son served as a police officer to save lives.
No, Abraham himself was to kill and then burn his unique son whom he loved more than his own life – he, the father of this gift from G-d was to take his promised son’s life and offer him up as a burnt offering23.
Abraham fought a battle of faith during this three-day journey only comparable to the battle our Lord Yeshua, the Promised Son, fought for His soul, the divine Father having ordained that He be offered up as a sacrifice – as the Passover-Lamb of G-d and becoming Se’ir L’azazel for us.
Would anyone dare call this being on a “bunny-trail?”
When Abraham sighted the place from a distance his love, faith, and hope in G-d won the battle. He had believed and trusted G-d’s promise about this son, about the covenant with him and with his descendants after him24, and he knew that G-d abhorred human sacrifices. Hence, whatever G-d’s motive and purpose was with Isaac’s Aqeda25, He would fulfill His promise, even if He was not going to keep Abraham from killing his son. In order to fulfill the promise and the covenant G-d would have to raise Isaac from the dead26.
But oh, what price Abraham nevertheless had to pay for his pursuit of this “bunny-trail”: although G-d did prevent him from killing Isaac, the son did not return with the father home to Beer-Sheva. He journeyed further south into the Negev, into the wilderness of Paran, to Beer-lahai-roy, where Ishmael and Hagar had their tents27, while Sarah, after she learned what Abraham had done, separated from him and moved to Hebron.
Abraham was ninety-nine years old and Sarah ninety, when G-d made the promise to Abraham and the covenant with him28. She therefore was at least ninety-one years old when Isaac was born, and one hundred and four years (assuming Isaac was 13 years old, the age of accountability) when Abraham took Isaac to Mt. Moriah. She died at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven, having therefore lived in Kiriath-Arba by Hebron29 for twenty-three years, away from Abraham and without Isaac.
We are not told if Abraham ever explained to her the reason for his action, and whether or not she forgave him. She died in Hebron, which indicates she may not have forgiven him.
Moreover, Abraham mourned his beloved wife alone, for Isaac did not come to mourn together with his father his mother’s passing. He feared and distrusted his father ever since the Aqeda, and to a degree also G-d Who became “the Fear of Isaac.”30 Only after Rebekkah became his wife was Isaac comforted over his mother’s death, carrying out the act of marital union in his mother’s tent to symbolize the continuation of her and her son’s love, while putting an end to his mourning. But he still kept living by Beer-lahai-roy31.
Such was the long and painful “bunny-trail”
of Abraham, whose footprints are imprinted for all time for everyone who
will believe G-d for the utterly impossible and trust and hope in Him even
against all hope, like Abraham did.
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