When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. *
Abraham is about to destroy the promised child, the embodiment of the great promise. Yet the promise remains—eternal, untouchable, decisively executed—because this faith is eternally allied to the promise. At the destruction of the worldly accomplishment, still one thing remains so that all is not lost forever and rather all is eternally gained. What remains is not Isaac, for he is not this faith’s object. This faith has no ultimate regard for worldly accomplishments. Instead, it risks worldly failure, charges into it without pause, treads the knife-edge of the absurd existence—all for its eternal object, which is not Isaac but God.
It is written that faith without works is dead. It is well written. But this is from the same writer who warns us against double-mindedness, for he knows that any “faith” concerned with worldly success is doubtful before it has even begun to act. Faith without works is dead, but faith in success—that is, faith whose object is some success—is double-mindedness. What is success to Abraham? He considers it a great test to have success. His success is put on the altar, for the eternal success of the promise is not his success in the world, not the worldly success of Isaac.
Only this faith, which is worked out in obedience to the command, and which annihilates the worldly accomplishment in favor of its object—only this faith could stand eternally as an assurance of things hoped for.
* Genesis 22.9-10. English Standard Version.