“On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” Gen. 22:4
This verse is yet another that gets glossed over when we read the scriptures for informational purposes and do not think about what is happening in the narrative, and how it may apply to our lives. When Abraham was asked by God to circumcise himself, he acted quickly and carried out the task that very day (Gen. 17). In this case it is simply not possible for Abraham to act with immediate obedience and accomplish the intended feat so quickly. With the daunting task that lay before him, Abraham has a full three-day journey ahead to Mt. Moriah.
There are times when things must be thought out, and wrestled with in our minds. Perhaps in this case, God wanted Abraham to have plenty of time to think about what he was asked to do: to sacrifice his only son, the one through whom God’s promises were to be fulfilled. After all, if Abraham acted on impulse and slew his son it would not prove anything to God, and he would have truly lost his son Isaac (and with him the promises from God.) God was trying to prove something, as he said “for now I know that you fear God” afterward.
And the request simply did not make sense. God saw to it that despite three full days to think about it, the request was not going to make sense until an Angel of the LORD called for Abraham to stop when he was moments from killing his beloved son.
The fact that nothing is recorded about Abraham stopping along the way may be telling; although he likely stopped for the night, he otherwise kept walking. We are all called to quick obedience, and to press onward. In this case, if Abraham had tarried, his mental anguish about offering Isaac would tarry as well. And to be certain, there are times in our lives when the trial we are undergoing simply does not make sense; but we are rewarded when we press on, and pleasantly find that despite the circumstances in the end our situation worked out.
I once was speaking with a Jewish friend about what faith is. He believed that faith was simply faithfulness – that is, obedience, to God. At first this stumped me as I could not immediately disagree, though I knew faith was something more than this. Then I thought of this story, the binding of Isaac. Faith is also obedience to God even when it doesn’t make sense.