Why does it take Moses twenty verses to say that Sarah died and was buried? This seems quite odd, but, as we prayerfully look deeper, we begin to see more of the things hidden from a cursory read as well as the secrets they hold for us. Sarah is the only woman whose age is recorded at her death, and only she, above all other women, is given as a model for the New Testament Church (1Peter 3:5-6).
God called Abraham first out of the land of Ur (Acts 7:3) and then out of Haran to come into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-4). I don’t believe Abraham made a firm decision to embrace the Lord until he reached Shechem, where he built his first altar. Later, Joshua would lead Israel here, to Shechem; it was a place of memorial where Israel made a firm commitment to receive the Lord as their God and consecrate themselves to him alone. Similarly, this was where Abraham consecrated himself to the Lord by putting away the gods he once served (cp. Joshua 24:1-2) and received the Lord as his God (Genesis 12:6-7). Moreover, after Jacob returned from Haran where he served his father-in-law, Laban, for 20 years, he came to this very place, where he caused his family to give him their foreign gods, and he buried them here, at Shechem (Genesis 35:4). The altar at Shechem stands as a memorial for Abraham’s repudiation of the gods he once served and his receiving, as his God, the Lord who took him out of the land of Ur. Read the rest of this entry »
Before we move beyond Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, we need to see this as our own test, perhaps our deepest lesson to be learned. For Abraham, Isaac was not only a gift from God, but he represented the fulfillment of all God had promised him, but was Abraham’s hope grounded in God or in Isaac—God’s gift? What is our hope grounded in? Is our hope grounded in God’s promise of salvation in Christ, or is our hope grounded in Christ? Abraham’s life shows us that before Isaac, he looked to God alone, and after Isaac, Abraham looked to God alone. What a testimony to faith or more to the point that God is worthy of our trust! Read the rest of this entry »
Never before and only a few times afterward does the Bible offer us a view of the relationship enjoyed by two individuals described therein. Notice how the text describes the relationship enjoyed by Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. In Genesis 22:2 it says: “…your son, your one and only Isaac whom you love.” In Genesis 22:3, 6 it is: “…his son.” In verse-7 the text continues with “…his father… my father… my son.” Again is verse-8 the text has: “my son… they went both of them together.” Finally, in verses 9 & 10 it concludes with: “Abraham… bound Isaac, his son and… took the knife to slay his son.” Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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, 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 »
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. What can we say of such things? Read the rest of this entry »