So here we have Abraham walking with his son towards this mountain he saw afar off after three days of journeying. He is commissioned to kill his own son. It goes against everything he knows or has learned. The whole situation is absurd. But, wait, there is something welling up inside of him before he starts this last part of the trek. It is only he and his son now. They have left the servants behind. It is a word. Its presence is so insisting that Abraham has to utter it when his son asks where the lamb is for the burnt offering. Abraham cannot help himself and replies: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
After he said it, he might have thought that this was a stupid thing to say. It would be far easier to say such a thing after the miracle, but, no, he has to say it before anything has happened. He would have been on much safer ground if he had said it when God indeed had provided the lamb. And then made it into some sort of general rule. Perhaps he accused himself of having gone crazy. He must have doubted that God was that good, that He would provide Abraham with a future and a hope. Indeed, all sorts of thoughts must have passed through his mind.
However, God wanted Abraham to voice that word of faith before they began to walk again – when they saw the mountain. Abraham had no guarantees save that word that had welled up in him. He must have dissected and deliberated that word in his mind over and over again. Nevertheless, here he is walking full of questions seeing the mountain still afar off. But, the word gave him hope about a future too grand for him to comprehend. Perhaps he even asked himself now and then: “Can I trust in that hope?”
Of course, this miracle of God and this faith word Abraham uttered had to merge and become one in a place far away from the well-known territory that provided Abraham with a sense of security and predictability. Faith offers us no other environment than one which we never before have journeyed. As we put one foot before the other we can rely on nothing but God. And isn’t typical that we have to make that final part of the journey alone?
It is most peculiar to notice how Abraham continued his trek as if the promise would not be fulfilled. He gathered wood for the burnt offering and he tied his son to the altar as if he had never uttered that word of faith. He could have stopped there in his tracks when he received his word, but, no, he continues like he hadn’t gotten it. In our daily lives that means that even though we have received our word we continue to do our stuff as if the promise will not be fulfilled, but it will in God’s perfect timing, that is, when it seems like all hope is gone and we are about to kill our promise.