Saddling Our Donkeys

Most people with any Bible knowledge at all, know the story about Abraham being called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering recorded in Genesis 22.

If you remember, God had promised 100 year old Abraham and his (up till now barren) wife Sarah who was about 90, that they would have a son, and that God would establish a covenant with this son and make him into a great nation. This son, who all these promises had been made about, was the one and only son Abraham was told to offer as a burnt offering to God.

We don't know how old Isaac was when God calls upon Abraham to test him, but he's old enough to understand death and what a sacrifice is, and old enough to question his father. Most scholars estimate Isaac's age in his late teens or early 20's just based on some events surrounding the story, but we don't know. What we know is that God calls upon Abraham to travel to the hill country of Moriah, which was approximately a three day journey.

Verse-3 of Genesis 22 says that after God gave the command to Abraham, that Abraham rose early in the morning, "saddled his donkey", took two young men, his son Isaac, and wood for the burnt offering, and set out traveling to a place God would point out when he arrived. On the third day, it says Abraham could see the place far away. He and Isaac left the others, and proceeded on to the place God designated. Isaac if you remember, questions where the animal would come from. I can't imagine the emotions as Abraham knows that in short order, he will tie up his son, and lift him onto the wood of the alter. But he answers, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

There are so many things to learn from this story, certainly the great faith of Abraham being the center of it all. This was what God was testing, and certainly Abraham passed the test. But our teachings about this most of the time point out the great faith Abraham had as he raised his knife ready to kill his one and only son Isaac. He proved his fear of the Lord God by doing exactly as he had been commanded, and God responded not only by preventing harm to Isaac, but verbally, "for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (Gen 22:12)

I'm not at all suggesting that anybody is teaching that Abraham suddenly acquired all of this great faith on the mountain, but the raising of the knife is usually the high point of the story when we teach it, isn't it?. But what about the faith it took to "saddle his donkey"? What about the faith it took to embark upon the journey at all?

Is it possible some of us might possibly have never left the house, much less made the trip and ultimately raised a knife against our one and only child? Hebrews tells us that "Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again." (Heb 11:17-19) What made Abraham able to think this? We know it was his great faith, a faith he had before God calls upon him to do this, and a faith proven by his response.

To have a faith like Abraham, it takes time. It takes time to grow our knowledge and belief. It takes some of life's hardest lessons, and it takes God being at the center of who we are and what we believe and ultimately do. Abraham didn't obtain or develop his faith when he arrived at Moriah, he had that same faith the morning he "saddled his donkey". Abraham was a man of daily faith, and it's evident that his faith had matured. He was no babe when it came to the extent or measure of his faith. Abraham never questioned, never argued and never offered God any alternative plans or suggestions. Abraham had a faith that responded with total obedience.

Today, do we have sufficient faith to saddle our donkeys when God calls upon us to act? Do we have faith to make the trip? Do we have faith to tie up our children, and raise the knife, not literally of course, God isn't calling us to do that, but figuratively. Do we have faith to obey, like Abraham did when God allows a testing of our faith? If not, may God grow and mature our faith, so that we can have a proportionate faith like Abraham.