I’m sure you’ve heard the bible story where God asks Abraham to offer up his son as a sacrifice. This one always baffled me. How could God put Abraham through that? That had to be awful!
Some people will hear something like this, get disgusted and say, “I could never follow a God like that!” and they abandon their faith.
I guess it’s times like this where knowing what God is about helps a lot. When I’d hear this, I knew I was missing something. I knew my understanding was falling short somehow. There was a reason God did this; I just didn’t know what it was.
I always thought the bible stories in the Old Testament were just stories about men and women of great faith. I didn’t know that God was giving us these stories to show us his plan about what would happen in the future. This way, when they happened, we would understand that it was all a part of God’s plan. Just like Moses and Jonah were a foreshadowing of our Savior that was to come, so is this story.
Abraham already had one son, but Isaac was his first and only son with his wife Sarah. They were both too old to have children when this happened. You can imagine how much Abraham loved Isaac and this is what God said to Abraham.
Genesis 22:2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Can you imagine the shock and horror that Abraham felt? Yet, he doesn’t argue or ask why. He starts to do it.
God calls Isaac ‘Abrahams only son,’ but Abraham had another son by Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar. There was a reason God said this. Isaac was the first son of Abraham’s wife and the covenant promise of a Savior coming through Abraham’s line was promised through Isaac. Also…
This is a foreshadowing! Just like Abraham was being asked to offer up his son as a sacrifice, God would some day offer up his one and only Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world!
God tells Abraham specifically where to go and guess how long it takes for them to get there?
Genesis 22:4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
It was on the third day that Jesus showed victory over death. And it was on this third day that Abraham obediently offered his son and God stopped him. Isaac’s “victory” over death was on the third day also.
God could have picked somewhere closer, but this whole event was to be a picture of the Messiah, Jesus, that was to come!
This event helps us relate to and think about how hard it must have been for God to offer up his son. They did this for us and I can now understand why God gets so angry when we sin. Our sins were paid for at a high price.
Genesis 22:5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham says WE will come back to you. Was he just saying that or did he somehow figure that God had something “up his sleeve” and would raise Isaac up from the dead, or something?
God had promised Abraham that his descendants through Isaac would be as numerous as the stars and Abraham knew that God always kept his word. So, Abraham was trusting God through all of this.
I think I would have at least sobbed, begged, or threw a temper tantrum first. Or, at least asked, “Are you sure? Did I hear you right?” Nope. Abraham just obeys.
Another reason it is shocking that God would ask this of Abraham is that it is totally out of God’s character and something he would never ask of us. There were times when the Israelites offered up their sons and daughters as sacrifices to foreign gods and this is what God says.
Jeremiah 7:31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.
Leviticus 20:1-5 The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.”
Yep. I would say God doesn’t like children being sacrificed.
Abraham went there to make a sacrifice, but now he doesn’t have anything to offer. God helps him out in this.
Genesis 22:13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over ant took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Abraham trusted. Isaac didn’t even object. This shows how much faith they had in God. Even when we don’t understand…
We just need to trust in God.