The Sacrifice

(A retelling of the story of Abraham and Isaac)

 

Abraham and Isaac, Ferdinand von Olivier (1817)
Abraham and Isaac, Ferdinand von Olivier (1817)

A weary journey, a wakeful night,

They left their camp before daylight

An old man carrying the weight of years

Wrinkled cheeks wet with tears

At hearing the young boy at his side

Prattle on with childish pride

That he alone had been chosen

To help his father on this mission.

 

“Are we going to build the altar ourselves?

While you carry the fire, can I gather the stones?

God will be pleased with our sacrifice, Father,

Only where is the lamb we need for the slaughter?”

Abraham answered Isaac, his child of promise,

Miracle-born past child-bearing years,

“These questions can wait, just stay by my side,

And carry the wood, the rest God will provide.”

Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt (1645)
Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt (1645)

 

The day wore on, and the afternoon came

Isaac’s cheerful patter gave way to a game

Of guessing what the sacrifice would be

Since it seemed to him a great mystery.

Together they worked on a small rise

When Isaac asked with mischief in his eyes,

“What trick do you have up your sleeve,

Father? An invisible lamb, I do believe!”

 

Slowly Abraham rose from the stones of the altar

Slowly he raised his face to his Father

Searching the heavens for a sign of reprieve

For now he could no longer deceive

The child who looked on him with trust

The child through whom his knife would be thrust.

“Isaac,” he said, as firmly as he was able,

“You are the lamb I will place on this table.”

 

Isaac’s smile, so like Sarah’s, faded.

He stared in silence, then quietly nodded.

Lying upon the altar, he whispered with humility,

“I am ready, Father, for you have taught me

That to obey is the best sacrifice of all.”

And at these words, Abraham let his tears fall:

“My son,” he cried, as he raised high his knife,

“God Himself will provide you with life.”

 

Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt (1634)
Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt (1634)

As Abraham met faith’s painful test

Before the knife plunged through his son’s breast

A voice called out from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he stopped and he answered, “My Lord, here I am.”

“Do not lay a hand on the boy. Now I know, My son,

You have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.”

Then Isaac and Abraham heard in the thicket a noise

For there God had provided a ram for the sacrifice.

 

Two thousand years later, a Man hung on a cross

Streams of blood flowing from his wounds and his scars.

Unprotestingly he had borne the scourge of the whip

Now bowing to the agony that through his flesh ripped.

People passed by, cursing and taunting, “Save yourself, come down,

Son of God, if you are; then we will worship and before you bow.”

But He gave Himself up my sins to atone,

My God, My God, Your Son, Your only Son.

images

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” (Jer. 31: 3)

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5 thoughts on “The Sacrifice

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. It’s the father-son relationship I was trying to get at because it is at the heart of our redemption. Jesus was given no reprieve and what it cost Him to say “yes” – and the Godhead as a whole – we are given only a glimpse of in Gethsamane. What grace that we will be given eternity to explore the depth of such a love for us and a mercy that we can begin even now, as Paul says, even as the Spirit gives “strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19 ESV)!

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