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What Did Abraham Sacrifice to God?

The fact that Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac upon the altar to God was praiseworthy according to Genesis 22:16-18, but why was it so? Sometimes we here of folks today who kill their children, saying either that God told them to do it, or they wanted to be assured their child would get to heaven, believing his or her present innocence was a guarantee for paradise. We know not only that such a thing is wrong, but that the people who do these terrible acts are deluded, because sacrificing the innocent is not a righteous thing to do. Moreover, God doesn’t require such a thing. He later calls the sacrificing of the innocent an abomination. What, then, did Abraham do that was so pleasing to God? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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Abraham’s Ultimate Test

Occasionally, we’ll read in the newspaper or hear on the evening news that a certain deluded person murdered someone and claimed: “God told me to do it!” We may even recall at such times that the Bible records God telling Abraham to slay his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to him. Some biblical scholars claim that Abraham failed the test by being willing to sacrifice his son; others wonder how this act could serve as a test for godliness,[1] implying that such a cruel deed could only be sought by a malevolent being. So, we are left with the question: should Abraham be admired or despised for what he did? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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The Value of God’s Tests

Does God have a right to test us as he does? Did he have the right to ask Abraham to offer up Isaac, his only son, to him—God—as a burnt sacrifice? Some have expressed their own astonishment at such a thing and regard God as an evil entity, if he exists at all, if the account in Genesis 22 is correct. Such folks wonder how Christians and Jews could love and / or worship a God who is expressed in this way. Bestselling author and agnostic, Bart Ehrman comments on the “binding” of Isaac: “The idea that suffering comes as a test from God, simply to see if his followers will obey,” is illustrated perhaps “more clearly and more horribly” in the offering of Isaac.[1] What can we say of such things? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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Covenants Made and Kept

The Lord tells us that he will look upon only one kind of man, and that is the man who humbles himself and in a wounded spirit still reveres the word of God (cp. Isaiah 62:2). Why would God look to this man? I think it is because there is reason to believe that this is how God is. He is revealed as God who suffers with us, as we see in John 3:16 and in the life of Jesus himself (cp. John 1:18). God gave his word to Abraham that all nations would be blessed in him (i.e. in Abraham; cp. Genesis 18:18). In Genesis 17:16 God promised Abraham that Sarah would have a son although her womb was dead. Once the Lord has given his word, it won’t return to him void, but his word will accomplish all that God intended to do (Isaiah 55:11). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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The Banishment of Hagar

We are told in Genesis 21:14 that Abraham rose up early in the morning and taking some food and a goatskin of water, he gave them to Hagar for her journey. Then the text adds: he gave her Ishmael, her son. According to the universal law at that time, Abraham didn’t have to give Ishmael to Hagar, but to keep him would have implied Hagar’s presence in Abraham’s household through her son, and that was not desirable. She brought him up to have the same characteristics so evident in herself (Genesis 21:9; cp. 16:3-4). Another point to consider is that after Sarah had died and Abraham took a concubine, Keturah, and had children by her, he later gave them their freedom and sent them away with gifts (Genesis 25:1-6). This was not done in the case of Hagar. She was given her freedom, provisions for her journey and her son, concerning whom she thought to overthrow Sarah’s position in Abraham’s household. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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The Schemes of Hagar

The Bible doesn’t mention anything about what Hagar may have done to hurt Abraham or Sarah, except to say that Sarah was despised in her eyes once Hagar became pregnant. If one were to be satisfied with a simple reading of the text, it could lead to the understanding that Hagar was grossly mistreated by her masters. After all, what did she really do but bear Abraham’s child, which is what Sarah wanted in the first place. If there developed a little rivalry between the women, is Hagar to blame for it all, or might some of the rivalry be due to Sarah’s jealousy over Hagar bearing Abraham’s child rather than her? With the understanding that I am deriving something out of the text that offers only meager hints of what may have been, let’s consider what could have occurred. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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The Blessing of Endurance

Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4 – KJV).” I like the way the Message puts it:

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” (Matthew 5:4 MSG)

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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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