A Three Day’s Walk
By Tim Tron
Driving up the mountain the other morning, I prayed that God would speak to me, giving me the words to follow for the day. No more had the prayer been finished than the words, “Walk with Me,” came. About this time, after my car broke through the clouds that sheltered my home down below – the most brilliant sunrise beckoned. It was one of those moments when you felt the Lord speaking to you through his creation. The scripture in Psalm 91 seemed to fit, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
As my thoughts pondered the “Walk with Me” command, my car notified me of an incoming message. One of my young brothers in Christ, Joe, asked if I was going to go to the Local Lion for coffee. Now, earlier, I had contemplated what to do with the morning – to get coffee before work, to sleep in, or eat breakfast and then go straight to the office. It wasn’t until after the answer to my prayer did the images and messages began to roll in, so of course, I responded, “I’m on my way.”
There, sitting on the porch of the Local Lion with Joe, we talked about “Walking” in scripture and what it could mean. Joe immediately brought up the three days that Abraham walked to sacrifice Isaac as God had commanded. Imagine walking with your son, who doesn’t really know your intentions, that you are about to offer him to God as a living sacrifice. We pondered over the scripture in Genesis, thinking about the correlation to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. For most, if not all of us, giving up our only son would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. But Abraham was not your typical father. In Genesis 17, God spoke to him, saying, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
So, for argument’s sake, let’s take a walk with Abraham.
Abraham rose early, long before sunrise, preparing for their journey. Meanwhile, Isaac slept in. And why not? He was a teenager after all. Yet, before the sun had hit the horizon, Abraham already had the wood split and the donkey saddled. His servants had breakfast waiting as he shook Isaac gently by the shoulder. “My son, get up. We have to go.” Jacob’s questioning, sleepy eyes must have wondered what was at hand. “God has told me that we have to go to the land of Moriah to make an offering.
“Why do I have to go?”
“God has spoken to me once again, but this time, I need your help to fulfill God’s plan.”
So, begrudgingly the teen arose and ate breakfast with his father. Isaac had heard the stories of how God had spoken to his father and mother and how he was conceived in their old age. He expected that his father’s need for him to go was divinely directed, so, for that reason, he was happy to help, but this early morning business wasn’t what he had in mind. Meanwhile, Abraham looked upon Isaac as they sat before the fire, eating. The words from God kept running through his head, “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” He knew that sacrificing Isaac would be counterintuitive to what God had commanded, but why? Regardless, he had to obey. He had come too far in his life’s journey to do otherwise now.
The dread that must have hung over the countenance of Abraham was comparable to those disciples who sat in the shadow at the foot of the cross. As the Roman soldiers prepared to lower the blood-stained post upon which Christ’s limp body hung, their hearts must have been torn. “It wasn’t supposed to end this way,” they thought to themselves.
The sun was barely breaking over the distant mountains when Abraham, Isaac, and two men-servants departed home with the donkey loaded with firewood in tow.
The disciples watched with heavy hearts as they lay the body of their Savior in the tomb.
The long shadows that hung across the valley before them were merely a precursor to what awaited.
The doors were locked. The questions abounded around the table where the disciples had gathered in the upper room. Would the Jewish authorities come for them next? What were these last three years about if this is how it ends? So many doubts and fears.
Yet, as Abraham walked with the three other traveling companions, his mind reflected on all the encounters with God and how they led up to this day. What inner turmoil he must have faced. The memories returned again and again of God speaking to him, saying, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be … Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates ” Then there was the visit by the three men in the plains of Mamre. Again, the Lord spoke to Abraham and Sarah, telling them that even in her old age, she would bare a son. Hearing this from the door of their tent, Sarah laughed in herself. God immediately answered her, saying, “Is there anything too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
One thing was absolute: Abraham believed in the Lord with all his heart. Knowing this, God “Counted it to him for righteousness.” Yet, Abraham was only human – indeed, he would still have doubts. Before he laid down that second night to sleep, he prayed for God to comfort his soul and softly whispered, “As I lay here in silence, Lord, I search my heart and my ways. The light of Your face shines forth on me as You fill my heart with gladness. In peace I lie down and sleep tonight, for You have made this dwelling a sure and trustworthy abode.” That night, unlike the many nights before, Abraham slept a peaceful sleep.
“Then on the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”
When they reached the place that God had told Abraham about, Isaac began to worry. There was no lamb, no other animal for which they could sacrifice. His heart began to race as the realization came to him, it was he who would be sacrificed. Sensing his anxiousness, Jacob bound Isaac and placed him upon the altar of wood. Isaac watched in horror as his father raised the knife. He closed his eyes, already preparing for the shock of the blade in his heart. But then there was nothing. Silence.
Raising the knife about to drive it into Isaac’s heart, the angel of the LORD called to Abraham out of heaven, “Abraham, Abraham.”
He stopped, hand still raised, clutching the blade, and replied, “Here am I.”
Eyes still closed, Isaac heard the bleating of an animal nearby. He opened his eyes as his father lifted him from the altar, untying and hugging him. Tears of relief filled his eyes as he watched his father retrieve the ram from the thicket nearby. The joy of knowing he had been spared, saved from certain death, filled his soul.
In that fateful moment, hand raised, ready to drive the knife into his only son’s chest, God spared Isaac. He declared that Abraham had shown himself worthy, having not withheld offering up his only son as a sacrifice. The ram became Isaac’s substitute. Yet, it was Christ who, for us, became the ram in the thicket, the propitiation for all our sins. God gave his only son so that we, the Isaacs of the world, would not face death but that we would be spared.
Fearing the end was near, the disciples huddled in that dark room behind locked doors. Their fears were dashed away forever when Jesus suddenly appeared in the midst of them. Their souls were restored when he said to them, “Peace be unto you.”
He had risen indeed.
Death was not the end of the story.
As we walk through our daily lives, we, too, will have doubts and fears. It is when we finally give them over to God that we are truly free of the bondage of sin. As Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Many people feel that the harder they work, the longer they try, and eventually, they will clean off that plate of things to do and achieve that magnificent goal the world had taught them that they need to accomplish to be successful. It is when we finally realize that the rat race never ends, that we cannot do it alone, and that there has to be a better way. Then, we can truly realize our purpose and fulfillment in this life.
As we go through life’s journey, many struggle with giving it all over to God. Many don’t care to come to know their Savior until it’s too late. But having the faith to accept Christ into your life is a close correlation to Abraham’s experience at that sacrificial altar. He placed everything he had been promised upon the altar. The lineage and seed of his future generations lay before him. When it seemed he was about to drive the knife into his only son’s chest; God spared Abraham’s son. Likewise, many find themselves down and out; in their deepest darkest moments, they finally give it over to God, only to discover that He had been there with them all along, simply waiting for them to ask.
As you go about your day, try to focus on your walk with God. Listen for that still small voice and be prepared to act when the answer finally comes – you’ll be amazed at what He can do.
And always remember, “Thanks be to God.”
Timothy W. Tron lives in Collettsville, NC. with his family. He is currently the Systems Administrator for the Computer Science Department at App. State. Timothy is the former Director of the Trail of Faith in Valdese, where he still volunteers and helps with tours. He is the author of a new Christian series, “Children of the Light”, with the first book being, “Bruecke to Heaven”, revised as “Bridge to Heaven”, and his recent book, being the second, “The Light in the Darkness”. He is an active blogger, artist, and musician. Timothy also has a BSEE from UF, and is a Lay Speaker. He is currently acting as the Faculty/Staff Liaison for the Ratio Christi campus ministry at App. State. He can be reached at [email protected] You can visit his website at //www.timothywtron.com/ or see more of his writings HERE