Copyright 5/21/13 By Sarah G. Pemberton
Truckloads of excellent theological ponderings have been written over the centuries about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, and of God’s provision of the ram in the thicket to save Isaac’s life, just in the nick of time. (Gen. 22; Heb. 11:8-19)
But who has considered the eerie silence regarding Isaac’s mother, Sarah, in this story? Where was she when Abraham was journeying to obey God in the hardest thing ever asked of him? Did he tell her what the Lord had said?
Picture the scene:
Early one morning, Abraham says to Sarah:
“Darling, the Lord has told me to go on a journey to Mt. Moriah with our only son, Isaac, and offer a sacrifice to Him in worship there.”
“Of course, Dear. Do you have your camping equipment?”
“Do you have plenty of water for the road?”
“Here’s plenty of matzo. It travels best, as it won’t get stale like regular bread.”
“Thank you, Sarah.”
“Be sure and let Jake and Elwood go with you to serve as needed for the trip.”
“Yep. I think two servants should be plenty.”
“Are the donkeys in good health?”
“Of course! The vet checked them out yesterday. They’re strong for the journey.”
“Do you have plenty of wood? It’s desert-terrain down there, you know,
so you need to load the donkeys with plenty for the sacrifice,
as well as for campfires on the way.”
“The donkeys are loaded with wood, Beloved.”
“Don’t forget a change of clothes, and your toothbrush.”
“And of course, which lamb or kid is best for this sacrifice, Darling?
We certainly want the Lord to have our very best!”
“Ummmm… He will most assuredly have the very best, Sarah. The very best, indeed…”
She now worries about the faraway look in his eyes, as he forms the words slowly, and gently.
“Where is the lamb, Dear?”
“Don’t worry about the lamb, Beloved. Now, Eliezar will take excellent care of everything while I’m gone,
so don’t you worry about a thing, Sarah!”
“Of course, Dear! But where is that lamb?”
“The Lord will provide the lamb for the sacrifice, Sarah.
Now give me a kiss goodbye, Darling!”
“Of course. I love you. Goodbye.
Isaac, my sweet baby angel, come!
Give Mommy a big kiss and a hug…
How about another one?
…Oh, you’ve grown so handsome, Sweetheart…
Just one more…”
“We have to go now, Darling. It’s a long trip…”
As Sarah watches their treasured figures grow small upon the horizon, as they edge slowly down the dirt road, it still bothers her. “Abraham has never gone to a sacrifice before without a lamb, or a kid, or a calf, or something appropriate from our flocks. And I know he rarely simply does anything rash, without consulting the Lord’s will. But he says the Lord will provide the lamb….”
Her thoughts begin to be plagued by a Voice not from God – a Voice of Fear and accusation:
“The local peoples here in Canaan occasionally even sacrifice their own children to their gods…”
“Surely… surely, our wonderful, faithful God Who gave us this beautiful son in our old age as a miracle, would not ask Abraham to give him up as a sacrifice? …Would He?”
Now her soul begins to wrestle between the faith, hope, and trust she has spent the last 30-some-odd years of her life learning with her husband, and the fear of a cruel God who will demand to take the very blessing of her inheritance, which He promised her. She has not been invited on this journey. She must stay home, in blind faith that all shall be well with her precious little treasure, Isaac.
The Voice taunts:
“Your God is like all the other gods – cruel, demanding, harsh, greedy for blood. You’ll die with nothing!”
“But the Lord saved me from the harems of Pharaoh and Abimelech. When I trusted God and didn’t argue with my crazy husband’s fears of being killed in foreign lands, and when I even lied for Abraham, God’s grace and mercy kept me from being defiled, from being abandoned, from being abused.”
“Your God is a tease! He gives only to take away!
You are a cursed, barren woman, after all!”
“The Lord promised us a son within a year, and He was faithful!
Even when I laughed, He didn’t punish me! He fulfilled His Promise.”
“He promised you this land, but do you own even one corner of it?”
“If He has been faithful to every other promise,
and all His prophecies have proven true,
He will prove true with this one, too!”
“But suppose your crazy husband sacrifices your son,
and he actually didn’t hear God accurately at all?
You’ll be bereft of your only child!”
“If God could raise my womb from the dead,
and if God could raise my elderly husband’s virility from the dead,
He can raise my son from the dead!”
At this point, the fear departed, the Voice ceased, waiting for a later, opportune moment. Sarah waited one day. She waited two days, three days. By now she knew, they should have arrived at their destination for the sacrifice. Tomorrow they would begin the journey home… Four days, five. Every time she was tempted to despair, she reminded herself of God’s past faithfulness. Her emotions were screaming at her. Her spirit chose to worship. The Voice of Fear tried again to rear its ugly head with tormenting thoughts of the Unthinkable. She chose to review her history, all the God-stories her husband had written down in his journal since they lived in Ur.
Now it was the sixth day since they had left. She kept looking to the horizon, hoping to see the familiar forms walking up the road. Suddenly, nearing the end of the day, she saw in the distance a moving speck on the road’s horizon. She could not yet count the number of figures, nor yet discern man from beast. Her eyes had been kept strong all these years – another testimony to God’s faithfulness, she whispered to herself.
Now she sees the donkeys, and one, two adult forms. Where was that tiny little figure most precious to her heart? Her heart begins to race, as the Voice tries to scream at her mind one last time,
“See? You might as well have stayed in Ur as to follow this God
Who has taken your family on a wild-goose-chase,
and stolen your most precious treasure!”
She told the Voice to shut up.
Then, emerging from behind one of the donkeys, she caught a glimpse of a small figure.
“There’s my boy!!!” She rushed, faster than any nearly-100-year-old woman ever ran, and received her Precious Promise into her arms again.
“Mama!” the boy said excitedly, “You won’t believe what God did…!” She looked into the face of her husband, Abraham, the “Father of Many Nations,” Gold had called him. She saw the awe, the joy, the relief, the amazing peace, the fear of the Lord – the face of a man who had escaped disaster with his life, and is eager to share his miracle-story. She knew now that her God was able to even raise the dead. She answered the boy, “Actually, I think you will be surprised at how I will not be the least bit surprised at any story you men have to share.”
As the servants moved toward the tents of their own families, Abraham Isaac, and Sarah moved toward their tent, where dinner was waiting…
A dinner for three.