Some of the role models of faith in God experienced moments of doubt. Abraham had faith to the brim to believe that God “was able even to raise him (Isaac) from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). However, it seems that he had his moments of doubt as well.
His response to God’s promise that his children will inherit the land, for instance, was that since he has no children, the promise makes no sense (Genesis 15:1-3). He could not believe the promise that God will make his descendants countless like the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Abraham had already designated his servant as his heir and was not willing to wait for God to fulfil his promises. It is true that the promise took too long to be fulfilled.
Abraham believed in God, but reluctantly! At every step, he waited for God to intervene to spare his son. We see this in the narrative about God’s demand to sacrifice Isaac.
When Abraham decided to obey God he did it in the wrong order! Probably this reflects his wavering mind. He had prepared the servants; he had saddled the donkey and then went to cut the firewood! See the sequence of events:
“So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3, ESV).
He should have cut the wood the previous evening, before going to bed. Preparing the servants and saddling the donkey could be in the morning. Taking time to cut the wood in the morning would certainly delay the journey. Was he delaying the start waiting for something to happen?
We cannot explain Abraham’s strange behavior, only some guesses. He was expecting God to intervene before they set out. Do you think that getting up in the morning, saddling the donkey, and getting the servants ready would be enough to convince God that Abraham is willing to obey and expect him to intervene? So, cutting wood will not be needed. He might have thought so.
As far as God is concerned, Abraham’s commitment to him extended beyond just stacking the wood, leaving, and making Isaac lie in the wood. Abraham, however, was called to demonstrate more than these gestures by swinging a knife at him and killing him. That is the level of obedience that God expected from him.
This is what he expected from his son on the cross as well. God sent his son to the earth, made him to have a humble birth in a poor family, to hunger and thirst. father God still waited until he was beaten and ridiculed. That was not enough. He allowed him to be crucified and was buried. Then only the obedience was complete, as Paul wrote he “became obedient till the death on a cross.” God called Abraham to demonstrate the heart of God the father.
However, Abraham got his son back. Isaac did not die, but the Son of God was crucified and buried to be brought back to life to live forever. God proved through the life of Isaac and that of his Son Jesus Christ that obedience is always rewarded.
Every test of faith involves obedience, though the level of obedience could vary. God expects us to go deeper in our obedience. He is watching and he will intervene on the right moment. Just before the knife splits the throat of Isaac and just before the fourth night falls on the cave where his precious son is buried.