I've been dreading this part of Genesis. Does anyone like the story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? It's heartbreaking and horrible and raises uncomfortable questions for me. Like, "Why would God do this cruel thing?" and "Was Abraham actually just insane?" and "Would I be so obedient?" (The answer to that last one is a resounding "No!") I read the story over and over and tried to come to terms with things.
Why did God ask Abraham to prove his loyalty like this? Maybe because God knew the huge legacy he had in store for Abraham, but He couldn't leave it to him unless he was darn near perfect? Perhaps God saw Abraham's heart was starting to turn less faithful or less obedient and this is what would bring him back? Did it have less to do with Abraham and more to do with teaching Isaac some kind of life lesson?
And why did Abraham obey when life would be a lot easier if he just plugged his ears and sang, "Lalalala! I can't hear you!" For one thing, he knew God and trusted him; maybe he had tried ignoring God before, and knew firsthand he's not a guy to be ignored. Abraham could have reasoned that he was doing Isaac a favor because he would get an extra special place in heaven? Or (and I like this best) maybe Abraham knew in his heart of hearts God would never really have him carry this devastating sacrifice out.
This post is peppered with question marks I see; no surprise, it's arguably the most confusing part of the Bible for me. I did find an interesting article (that I did not check for credibility, fyi) that claims there may be some parallels between Isaac and Jesus, and that the Abraham/Isaac ordeal served as a sort of prophecy. Here is the link if you'd like to check it out: http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/why-did-god-tell-abraham-kill-his-son-isaac
In any event, there is a happy ending for Abraham, Isaac, God, and thankfully, there will be for us too.