Genesis 22:9…When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
It’s Phillip’s fault. He had the communion prayer and meditation at church this Sunday morn. He spoke of Abraham’s sacrificing his son Isaac on that mountaintop altar. He waxed on in some detail giving the familiar episode new life…and thereby making me think. That’s often a good thing. Today it was amazing. At first I lingered on the phrase, “He bound his son.” I pondered what it would be like to tie up my Matthew or Daniel preparing them for death-by-dad…knife followed by fire. But it wasn’t long before I moved on to the much more intriguing words at the end of that verse: “on top of the wood.” I don’t remember seriously noticing them before, though I’ve probably read and heard them numerous times.
Imagine for a moment that you are Isaac and have just been bound tightly, probably hands and feet, so that self-release is impossible. Abraham surely didn’t want your wriggling free so he would have to start the process all over again. No, the ropes that held you, although applied with a greatly distressed love, were absolutely secure…so tight they cut into your wrists as you fidgeted. Dad probably said the obvious, “Lie still, Son!” more than once during those few moments.
But as you calmed down and the hemp ceased hurting so much, your discomfiture increased. For now you realized that the bed on which you lay was made of knotted, rough, splintery logs. The ones you had just carried up that steep mountain trail only minutes before. You were, in fact, on top of the wood. Every movement set those logs rolling ever-so-slightly…just enough to pinch a different spot of skin on your back. Your father had arranged that pile carefully just before tightening those ropes around your wrists and ankles. Then the most incredible occurrence of your young life…he had lifted you gently, held you affectionately for an extra moment, and then placed you delicately on top of the wood.
Lying there on top of the wood had to be the least comfortable place you’d ever reclined. You were used to sleeping outdoors or even on the ground in a tent; but you almost always had at least a blanket atop several soft, leafy boughs or heaps of grass blades between you and the hard earth. Not this time.
Fearfully, the reality set in. The Lord had apparently provided the lamb just as your dad had promised. Your question had been answered. Tag! You’re it!
Fortunately, bare seconds after that reality smote you like being blindsided by a rubber spheroid in a game of dodge ball with your friends, salvation came. You heard the startling voice from nowhere, saw the gleam of light reflected off the all-of-a-sudden motionless knife, noticed the immediate relief on your father’s face, and heard the bleating from the nearby thicket all within a few seconds. Your minute on top of the wood had come to an end. You weren’t the lamb after all. There was a different lamb supplied to take your place. Thanks, Dad…
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