"And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands."
I think the whole story of Abraham is fascinating. I think that the whole story of the near-sacrifice of Isaac makes more sense when you know his background. He basically dedicated his life to the Lord after this... the Lord saved him, as he saves us all, but in Abraham's case from a society where human sacrifice, even of children, was the norm. He had grown up with it, and his father had been in favor of his death (see verse 30). So, the ultimate test for Abraham was to see if he would obey God even when God commanded him to do something that he had saved him from originally... and to treat his son as he had been treated. Perhaps this helped him to understand his own father and to forgive him... in any event, it probably helped him to understand where he came from a lot better. Why those people would do what they did, and how dependent we are upon God. It might even have helped him to discover in his own mind that he didn't serve God only because God had saved him... but that there are deeper and truer reasons to listen to him. Or maybe he learned exactly how much he really did love his son... I don't know for sure of course, this is all speculation... but isn't it cool that God teaches us all in such an individual way? That he draws upon our experiences and beliefs, and teaches us all that we need to know in order to return to his presence? God isn't going to command me to sacrifice my son... first, because I don't have one... but secondly because that isn't my ultimate test. I need to learn the same things... dependence on God, overcoming childhood beliefs and behavior patterns, sincere and pure love... but my lesson will be packaged differently. Our tests of life may be equally challenging, but as it always is with God, the greatest lessons come from the greatest struggles. So today... let's learn. Get ahead of the game. :)