And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.…
How could God command Abraham to sacrifice his son? We reply: God never intended the death of Isaac. He saw the end from the beginning, and knew that the life of Isaac would not be taken. The command was only a severe test of the absolute faith and unswerving obedience of His servant Abraham. A story may illustrate this. In the Napoleon wars, it is said that once the emperors of Austria and Russia and the king of Prussia were discussing the relative absolute, unquestioning obedience of their soldiers. Each claimed the pre-eminence, in this regard, for his own soldiers. They were sitting in a room in the second story. To test the matter, they agreed that each in turn should call up the sentinel at the door, and command him to leap out of the window. First the Prussian monarch called his man. "Leap out of the window," was the order. "Your Majesty," said the soldier, "it would kill me." He was then dismissed, and the Austrian soldier was called. "Leap out of that window," commanded the emperor. "I will," said the man, "if you really mean what you say." He was in turn dismissed, and the Czar called his man. "Leap out of that window," cried the Czar. Without a word in reply, the man crossed himself, and started to obey, but of course was stopped before he had reached the window. Were the sovereigns guilty of murder? Surely not, because their purpose was not to sacrifice their soldiers, but only to test their obedience. This anecdote may throw more light on the first difficulty than perhaps many a logical argument could do. God's purpose must be judged, not by His command alone, but by the story in its completeness. Then only will our judgment be a correct one.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.