After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
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. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
In this passage Abraham teaches us what it means to fear the Lord. To fear the Lord is to trust him with everything. Abraham trusted God with his dearly loved son, Isaac. Abraham valued God above even his own son and so when God asked him to do the radical and the illogical, he was more concerned to value God than even his son. That is the fear of God – radically valuing and trusting God above all else. This fear, the fear of God, is the central concern of the Christian since it shapes our whole lives.
Our fears shape us. If we are afraid of spiders we will avoid living or travelling in certain areas. If we are afraid of what others think of us we make sure we are wearing the right things and saying the right things. If we are afraid of being failures we will strive tooth and nail to succeed in school and work. Fears shape us. If you really want to know someone, figure out their fears.
To fear the Lord is to trust and value him above all else and it is to be so much afraid of who he is and what he thinks of us that he becomes the driving, shaping force of our attitudes and actions.
And the surprising thing is that living in this type of fear releases you from other fears, and not only that, but this fear leads to huge rewards since it puts the rest of life into proper perspective.