Sunday, September 19, 2021

Posted on Sep 17 2021

Genesis 22-The Binding of Isaac
Bible Background: This scary story is one of the final chapters in the story of Abraham. Isaac, the long awaited offspring, has been born to Sarah and Abraham. Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar, has been sent away by Sarah (Genesis 21). Now God asks Abraham to sacrifice his “only son”? What kind of God asks that? (Or we wonder, “Did Abraham hear God correctly??”) This is an uncomfortable story to say the least. But since it is a key story, in a key part of scripture, we do take it seriously.

Digging Deeper: 1. Some things we can understand: Child sacrifice was practiced by many of Israel’s neighbors. It is awful to think about how various cultures sought to please various gods! This practice is ruled out in several other places in scripture. But here, it comes way too close for comfort!

2. We, the reader, are told this is a “test”. Since God’s promises are essentially riding on one person, and this person has demonstrated both faith and doubts, does God need to know that Abraham will love and trust God more than anything else? (That’s 1st Commandment territory-we haven’t gotten to the 10 C’s yet-but that’s the essence of the 1st Commandment!) God does learn that Abraham is 100% obedient.

3. Turns out, Abraham does pass this test with flying colors. Abraham does “fear (as in ‘revere’), love, and trust God” more than anything else. Abraham also trusts that “God will provide.” Turns out that God does come to Isaac’s rescue, and God does provide the ‘offering’ for a sacrifice.

4. What about Isaac? Is this child abuse? There is no explaining away the difficulty of this scene. Isaac trusts his father. His father is ‘there’ for him. The story does have a ‘safe’ ending. Isaac lives to an old age, and there is no sign that he is ‘scarred for life.’ But this seems like a terrible, unnecessary, close-call.