He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
When Abraham and Isaac neared Mount Moriah, the patriarch told the young men with him, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you (Genesis 22:5)." The Hebrew is a little more specific, it says, “we will go, and we will return”. Knowing that he was going to sacrifice Isaac on the Mount, why did Abraham say “we will return”?
The other question to ask is, ‘why did he go’? When I teach this story I always ask my students, ‘If today God came to you and said, “Son, I want to teach a lesson to the universe and I want you to help me. All you need to do is take your son or your little brother or sister and sacrifice them”. Would you go? Would you even hear that type of language? Abraham had always been a willing instrument in God’s hands so it is fair to assume the he was in all good conscience going to literally sacrifice Isaac on the altar that day; but he did say to the young men, “We will return”.
We get a little clue from the writer of the Book of Hebrews. Chapter eleven says, By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, … He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back (Hebrews 11:17-19). Because of Abraham’s willing intentions, the text tells us that Abraham ‘offered’ Isaac. The text also reveals that Abraham believed in resurrection, and that was the faith which made him obey God. This faith in resurrection was the seal of Abraham’s faith in God and wherein he and us become potential heirs to all the promised in the Book.
But now, let’s return to our former scenario. What if today God came to you and said, “Son, I want to teach a lesson to the universe and I want you to help me. All you need to do is take your son or your little brother or sister and sacrifice them, but don’t worry, I will resurrect them right away”. Would you do it? Would you have that much desire to accomplish God’s purpose, so much love as to kill what is dearest to you, even if He had told you that He would give it back? Our messianic faith does lie in that one idea that Hashem allowed Yeshua to die on the cross, and that He resurrected Him.
A problem also is that when Hashem allows us to be tested with the prospect of losing something dear, we usually rationalize the idea. We try to find a ‘comfortable’ compromise so we don’t really have to give ‘it’ up. Abraham probably had his trial, but he didn’t do that. Some people like to think that Abraham did it so we don’t have to, but this is not my experience. I for one believe that faith in God though Yeshua is sealed in our conscience through many trials and tests; you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (Hebrews 12:4).