Genesis 22:1-19 (NRSV)
God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you." So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you." Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice." So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham lived at Beer-sheba.
I’m going to tell the truth and shame the devil! Up until about a month ago, if God had asked me to write on this scripture I would have been really mad! I have always had a problem with this story in the Bible.
Just a few weeks ago, I was again in a funk over this narrative, so I said to God, “How could you ask any parent to do this? Didn’t you know how Abraham would feel? Can you imagine how this made Isaac feel? He probably had nightmares for the rest of his natural life! And what of the heart of Abraham—he must have been sad, mad, scared, sick, depressed, anxious, and everything in between? I know his heart must have been breaking! I could never have done this God; don’t you dare ever ask me to do this! I would have vomited on my way up that mountain! What would I have told my baby when he asked me, “where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” This is the most awful thing you have ever done…”
Now, as I was railing against God—actually daring to stand in judgment ya’ll—God said to me in a still small voice within my spirit, “Now you know how I felt.” As I was still angry I shouted in my heart, “About what?!” And God said, “About sacrificing MY only begotten son…”
BAM! What an epiphany! In that moment my life changed; suddenly I understood the story of Abraham and Isaac in a whole new light. Abraham’s story was a harbinger of things to come. God knew that Abraham would get to the top of the mountain and God would provide the lamb. But, there were no such options with Jesus.
Jesus climbed to the top of the Golgotha’s hill and he was actually sacrificed! There was no “ram in the bush,” there was no staying of the hand, there was no angel shouting, “STOP!” Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced, he was lifted up high for all to see, and he was taunted and jeered until he cried out to his father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!”
Talk about an awful moment for a parent to have to witness. And do you know what? God could have stopped it, interceding to save Jesus and to spare them both all of the heartbreak and the pain of Jesus’ death by crucifixion. But, God did not do it.
God was determined to make any—and every—sacrifice necessary to make amends for our sin and to bring us into an eternal and right relationship with God. What an Amazing Love! What awesome GOOD NEWS!
The next time you’re tempted to have a pity party and to sing, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll eat some worms…” Remember, God loves you so much that God allowed Jesus to be sacrificed---just to be friends with you!
YOU ARE LOVED—more than you could ever hope, dream, or imagine! YOU ARE LOVED more than the east is from the west and the north is from the south. YOU ARE LOVED in a way that may make no sense to you, but makes perfect sense to your God.
WE ARE ALL LOVED and we are invited to share this love with others!
Who can you share the love of God with today?
God, you are the most loving parent a child could ever ask for! Thank you for what you did for me. I can’t imagine how painful it was for you to watch your child be sacrificed on that cross. I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love me and that you love everyone else too! Please help me to faithfully share that love with others. You are amazing and I honor you. In the Precious Name of Jesus, Amen.
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From Pastor Yolanda’s blog http://aintathatgoodnews.blogspot.com/