Perambula looked on in horror and turned to God in fury.
"My Lord, this is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen You do. What can You be thinking? How can You ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son?! If he does, then how can You honor Your covenant with him?" Tears streamed down angel eyes as Perambula's rage exploded. "Look at that innocent child! You are asking Your chosen one, Abraham, to behave as an ignorant pagan looking to satisfy an evil spirit?! I have disagreed with You before, I have misunderstood You, but I have never been so furious!"
God patiently allowed Perambula to vent. During a momentary break in the tirade He replied, "Be quiet and trust Me. I need to see if a man can allow his only begotten son to be sacrificed for the sin of others. I know that an ignorant animal can be sacrificed, but would a child be so trusting as to surrender, and could a father give up his only son, his most precious son in whom he placed all his hope? I need to know if this is realistic, if it is within the realm of possibility. I need to know if Abraham and Isaac trust me to the death."
Perambula listened intently to God's reply, then sighed, and meekly asked, "Shouldn't you have conducted this experiment BEFORE Abraham entered into covenant with you my Lord? Then, if the man failed, you could find another man, and if he passed your outrageous test, then he would be found worthy of the covenant. I am afraid that tormenting him so, and appearing to rescind your offer after-the-fact will tarnish your pristine reputation."
"God smiled big and replied, "Let Me worry about My reputation, but thank you for your concern. I have a task for you that will calm you down, but first, watch this."
Young Isaac lay still on the wooden plank with his arms and legs firmly encased in a net of unyielding rope. His arms hurt the most. How he wished he could stretch them out. His head throbbed. Even Isaac's little feet were tied up. He knew that his father was just stalling by using up every inch of rope, to postpone as long as possible the carrying out of God's cruel command.
Isaac closed his eyes, but the pain grew sharper, so he opened them again. Abraham could not bear to see his young son's eyes. He prayed, "God of my fathers I give to You what is yours: my precious son. Have mercy on me and my wife for the many times we have forsaken You. Help me and forgive me in the coming days, as I grieve, when I am lonely. Help me to cherish Your will and not my own. Help me to tell Sarah what I have done."
Isaac's mouth was not tied up. The child added, "Amen. Into Thy hands I commend my soul and my body." and then he closed his little brown eyes to begin his eternal sleep.
Abraham pulled the knife out of its sheath. It was time. He had to get this over with. He looked upon his yielding son and gained strength from his humble surrender. Abraham lifted his arm to cast the fateful blow into his beating heart.
Just as the knife began its dastardly decent, Perambula loudly called to him and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"
Abraham's arm and dagger fell without hesitation as he looked up and around to see who called. Without seeing anyone, he replied, "Here I am."
Perambula, proudly and joyously speaking for God said in a clear loud voice, "Do NOT lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son from Me."
Isaac heard the voice too. How suddenly did his obedience yield life instead of death; reprieve. Still tied up tightly, head still throbbing, deep within his soul a sensation of pure life, oddly secure and incorruptible welled up. Was it sheer relief or was its source more celestial than that? With closed eyes searching the darkness within Isaac looked for evidence of the God who asked for his death and then saved him.
Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. God had provided the sacrificial ram. He ran to grab. Without more rope to tie the ram with, Abraham immediately bludgeoned it with the happy knife so recently relieved of committing a much more dastardly deed.
While the dead ram bled on the hallowed ground, Abraham lifted limp Isaac from the bier and untied him. Isaac was weak and deflated. Saved from the power of the knife, Isaac sensed that nevertheless, he had indeed been sacrificed.
Like a sack of potatoes, Isaac was propped up against a rock and then His father lifted the bleeding ram onto Isaac's wooden bier and looked up to heaven to worship and thank his God.
Isaac mustered up the strength to ask, "Father, may I set the fire please?"
"By all means my son."
Little Isaac slowly rose and limped over to the little flame that had quietly witnessed this sacred scene. He carefully lifted the candle out of the earth and reverently lit the sticks as he had done numerous times before. The flame grew with vigor to consume the sacrificial ram. Isaac gazed upon the dead and burning animal. He had to turn his head and look away.
Abraham stood mesmerized by the flame as it consumed the ram instead of his son, first cooking, then burning, then pulverizing it until nothing was left of the innocent ram but ashes. The father and son sat in empty silence, their thoughts and feelings spent by overuse.
As Perambula and God also watched the wood being consumed, memories of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life, and then the Tree of Crucifixion welled up in God's timeless mind.
When the ram turned to ashes, and the sun was retreating in the horizon, Abraham and Isaac gathered the rope and the knife and headed back to the waiting servants.
Abraham said to Isaac, "I will call this place, 'The Lord will provide.' Isaac, wondered what God may have in store for his life as he walked ten steps behind his elderly father who was also deep in a syncopated rhythm of contemplation and worship.
As he walked, Abraham heard the Lord call him a second time saying, "By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gates of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed My voice."
God loved Isaac like His own son.
"Perambula, go and find the strongest and most able among angels to guard this precious child Isaac, perhaps fetch Michael. Go, and then come to tell me whom you have chosen."
"Yes, SIR!" replied Perambula before gleefully flying up into the heavens.
Meanwhile, Abraham and Isaac arrived at their servant's camp.
"Welcome master. Enter into your rest." said the young man showing Abraham the bed that he had prepared for him.
Exhausted, Abraham nodded, forced a smile and went into the tent to collapse in sleep.
The next morning the troupe packed up and headed back to Beer-Sheba and the refreshing well and Sarah who was waiting patiently for her son to return.
Watching the humble father and son as they stumbled over rocks to descend Moriah's mountain, God's mind flashed to the future vision of a great and magnificent temple built on the spot where Abraham proved himself to be a God-fearing man. There at that place thousands of animals will be sacrificed as punishment for the sins of man. The Temple Mount is truly hallowed ground where God was trusted as never before.