After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 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. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.
– Genesis 22:1-4
Abraham must have had an extremely poignant, painful, and (apparently) final bonding experience with his only son for those three or more days of journey to the mountain. We’ll never know what they talked about, but three days is a lot of time to reflect on past experiences, lessons, and joys they had together. I can’t imagine how much more difficult this made Abraham’s task.
Hundreds of years later, God gave instructions for the Passover (Exodus 12). A male, yearling lamb was to be killed and its blood sprinkled on the outside of the door on the posts and jamb. However, the lamb was not just taken from the flock and killed right away. The Hebrews were instructed to separate the lamb from the flock on the 10th day, but not kill it till the 14th day. Why the gap of time? A young lamb is pretty cute. Perhaps this was another bonding experience. I can picture the children feeling sorry for the creature. Maybe the adults also. Again, this must have made the task harder.
I see these instructions (including sending Abraham to a far-off mountain when a local spot would appear to be just as sufficient) as God’s way of leading us to see the extreme grief it caused Him to have to send His Son to die for our sin. Kill a lamb for a sacrifice? I think I can do that. Spend some time loving it and watching your children love it and play with it… and then kill it? I’m too soft hearted to say I could do it as easily.
I believe God’s purpose was to cause us to never take Jesus’ death for granted: for us to grieve over the reason He died, and to worship in awe and gratitude for the incomprehensible love the Father could have for us. He momentarily interrupted that eternal bond of one-ness with His Son so that we could be one with Him (John 17:20-21).
Heavenly Father, thank You so very much!