We all know that Abraham sacrificed Isaac. The angel staying his hand and the ram snared in the bushes and the connection between, “God will provide the sacrifice” and the cross are all familiar stories. It is less obvious that the 3 patriarchs all sacrificed their sons.
Isaac loved Esau. He favored Esau so strongly that Jacob became a “Mama’s boy.” He loved Esau so strongly that he ignored his faults and was prepared to pass the blessing to him, the grace to be the one to carry the line of the promise. But Jacob deceived Isaac and received that blessing. Isaac may have been blind, but God was not, and Esau realized that the correct son had received the blessing. Despite his great love for Esau, “no place was found for repentance,” and Isaac “sacrificed” him to the purposes of God.
Every father has a special place for his firstborn. Jacob refused to ignore Reuben’s faults and rejected him from the genealogy of the promise (Gen 49:1-4). However, the great sacrifice came earlier. Jacob loved Joseph above his brothers and when he thought Joseph was dead, he lavished all that love on Benjamin. We’ve all seen the baby of the family spoiled and Jacob did so. But when it came to the point that the family of promise was about to be extinguished in the famine, he sent him with Judah, “And if I am bereaved, I am bereaved” (Gen 43:14). It is clear from Jacob’s language that he put Benjamin in a separate category above the brothers, but to save them all he “sacrificed” Benjamin.
In different ways, these all sacrificed the sons of their love in pursuit of the promise of God that had been passed down since Gen 3:15.
Jesus said, “Whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” We probably will never be called upon to give our child to death. We may have to reject one we love to choose God. But, the real question is what things do we allow to interfere with our wholehearted pursuit of God?