The Three Angels Tell of the Birth of Isaac
Hail! He will be born,
A child of laughter and tears.
You will bear a child
And you will laugh unto tears,
But laughter will stay at last.
Isaac, do not fear!
Young ram, do not be afraid!
Ram, caught in the bush,
The bush that burns, undestroyed,
I am the fire and the ram.
Sacrifice of Isaac
O my father, am I really to go with you?
And help you with the sacrifice to the Lord?
You’ve never taken me before, and I’ve always wanted to go.
Why do you weep, Mother? We won’t be long.
I’m growing up, now, and it is right that I go with Father.
Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?
Father, what are you doing? Father —
Father, how can the Lord want me? I am only a child.
How can you worship a Lord who wants your child?
Father, there is terrible laughter in the air like thunder.
You are not my father. I am afraid of you.
I will close my eyes. This rock is hard and cold against my bones.
This rock is. . .
Father. I heard thunder again.
You are untying the ropes which cut my skin.
You are laughing and crying, and the ram in the bush
is waiting with frightened eyes.
He does not understand, either.
Abraham And Isaac
(Inspired by Rembrandt’s painting. It provides an additional explanation for this story — the Christian view that this thwarted sacrifice of an only son prefigures the sacrifice of Christ, the Son of God, on the Cross at Cavalry.)
He really meant to do it.
All it took was an angel’s merest touch
to stop him, but the boy’s hands
were tied, the father’s fingers
wrapped around his jaw
(perhaps to smother him — one paltry act
of mercy before the fatal slice?).
What kind of God would require
such appalling fidelity?
What kind of father could bear
to imagine the blade
leaving its trail of red
in the tender skin of a throat
no beard has covered?
What would it take?
What must be the magnitude
of a love that would go this far?
The look in Abraham’s eye
is crazed. The angel’s message
relieves him (though all his life
some madness will haunt him,
and Sarah will follow his steps
with darkened eyes).
You don’t have to do this
any more. Another father
will take your place
Another son will be led to slaughter.
The promise will be fulfilled,
Israel’s seed will be planted.
Let him grow old and die.
(Marilyn Chandler McEntyre)
Abraham and Isaac Sonnet
What a journey, what a chore. What a pain and open sore
Heavy steps and silent weight; heavy heart in labored rate
Pictures flashing through the mind break the seal to open door
To insight of a parent’s wait, the challenge on each parent’s plate
Let go of child, beloved one, surrender precious only son
And in the process lead that child to be a man of courage mild
An adult who with race well run can sacrifice and bring the sum
Of all that he in heap has piled, dreams both calm and truly wild
To give beyond his selfish will and trust the love of parent still
This surely is the message caught within a heart so deeply taught
by faith that trusts a greater will, that does not ever wish to kill
but walks each step as he does ought, knowing that the peace he sought
will filter through and find a way to mould our lives and fill life’s cup
These men of God have taught us much of parenting and growing up.
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide. (Genesis 24:63)
A lonely spirit by sad thought opprest,
With few to comfort, none to understand,
The Son of Abram thirsted for the land
Where there remaineth for God’s people rest;
The far-off land beyond the sunset’s glow,
The golden land where happy saints abide,
And ofttimes in the field at eventide
He questioned with himself, and longed to go.
Why should he tarry? She whom best he knew
Whom most he prized, whose love no shade of doubt
Had ever touched, so fond it was and true,
No more among the tents went in and out,
But where the trees on Ephron’s acre grew
Lay silent, sepulchered by hands devout.
(William Reed Huntington)
Isaac and Rebekah
And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah and she became his wife; and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. (Genesis 24:67)
Upon his gloom her smile like sunshine fell;
Into his life her voice with music came;
From out dead embers sprang a living flame;
The thirsty camels, at her father’s well,
Drank not more eagerly, beneath the spell
Of her sweet presence, waters that she drew,
Than he her love, whose worth none other knew,
And known was wealthier than tongue might tell.
Her meekness hallows every slightest deed,
Her quick compliance half-way meets his will,
Her anxious care foreknows his every need,
Her patience waits upon his weakness still.
No longer sorrow’s slave, now shall he lead
Such life as doth all righteousness fulfill.