This is one of those passages that people struggle with. How could a loving God ask Abraham to do something as horrible as sacrificing his only son? Isn't human sacrifice detestable to God? What is going on here? I believe that God is sending a powerful two-part message to Abraham and all of humanity through this intense experience. The first message is one of allegiance - who or what are you committed to? We see clearly that God holds Abraham's allegiance. Without argument, after God tells Abe to go and sacrifice his son, he packs up and leaves to complete the task. He straps his son to the makeshift altar and raises the knife to slaughter him. Abraham totally and completely trusts God. He has seen God move so powerfully, so often in his life that he knows that God is greater even than death. Abraham holds nothing back from God and completely trust that God knows what He is doing. How about you? Where does you allegiance lie? Are you willing to trust God with everything in your life? Do you believe that God is in control of everything...even death? It seems like so many of us refuse to fully trust God. We say we trust God, but we always hold something back. We say we trust God...but when something heartbreaking happens - when we lose a loved one, lose a friend, things don't go "our" way - we blame God. Scripture teaches us that God is faithful...that God is just...that God is working all things for the good of all people. Pledge your allegiance to God above anything else and you will be blessed as Abraham was.
The second message is one of love...God wants to lay the groundwork for us to understand the depth of His love for us. Did you see all the similarities between Isaac's experience and the crucifixion of Jesus. Isaac is Abraham's one and only son (By Sarah anyway). An innocent son is condemned to die. The wood that he would be killed on was laid on his back for Isaac to carry. Abraham says, "God will provide the lamb for a burnt offering (Which He does through Jesus eventually)." The similarities end when Abraham is about to kill his one and only son, because God stops him. All of the readers of this story are relieved because we cannot even fathom the depth of sorrow that would coming from killing your own son. Yet that is exactly what God has done for us. He did not stop the hand of the killers of Jesus. He allowed created human beings to kill their own Creator. He felt the sorrow of losing a son. Felt the separation from a integral part of Himself for the first time in eternity. He knows what it is to suffer. He knows what it is to hurt. He was willing to go through all of that so that He could offer forgiveness to selfish people who did not deserve it. That is love!