February 19

February 19, 2021
By: Jim Cords

After these things God tested Abraham…– Genesis 22:1-18 (ESV)

These verses in Genesis are problematic. I am quite sure that my thoughts will not adequately address the many and various concerns that this story raises. The idea that God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is just wrong on so many levels. I want to scream at God “this is evil and you cannot do this.” The idea that there were other religions at the time and throughout history that did in fact have child sacrifices only makes me want to scream louder.

So let me share my mental wonderings with you as this story has troubled me throughout the last couple of weeks. My first question is “how could Abraham not protest?” It makes no sense to me that the text gives us no protest on Abrahams part.. unthinkable. Then when I see that Abraham doesn’t even use the tried and true avoidance techniques so prevalent in my world… like “I don’t seem to have enough wood, wait I will plant some trees…”  That is of course said in some jest. Another technique of trying to make light of a very heavy situation.

How is this possible for a father? Well… the only thing I can come up with is to actually take Abraham at his word. When Isaac asks in verse 7 about the missing lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham says “God will provide.” Is it possible that Abraham actually believed this? Could he have been doing all that God asked him to do, yet actually believed that at the last moment God would in fact not ask him to go through with it? This does not answer all my questions about this story. I still can’t imagine how this story goes forward without some serious issues for Isaac. But I also cannot seem to land anywhere else.

Abraham was willing to move forward according to God’s calling even when it made no sense. He was willing to do what God asked, believing that God is good and that God would bring about something that he could not see or understand.

There is one other way that I look at this story. Isaac is a gift. He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. I wonder if Abraham was losing sight of the giver and putting more focus on the gift. I see this happening in many places in my life. The main thing gets lost while I focus on something else. And make no mistake, God is the main thing. It is not loving our neighbor. It is not being kind. It is not being generous. It is not anything else. Many of those other things are good, just not the main thing. 

At the end of this story God blesses Abraham using the words “… because you have not withheld…”.  I pray that all that we have and all that we are can be offered (willing to be sacrificed) to God to be used according to His will and for His glory.

“Lord help me not to let anything replace you on the thrown of my life. Be my Lord and guide me. Give me the faith and courage to trust you. AMEN”

 

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