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Genesis: Abraham’s sacrifice; NT: Jesus is Lord

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve heard a lot of popular jokes about Abraham and Isaac, and some really good criticisms. Family Guy makes a good joke about it, as well as Year One. Funny stuff, legitimate concerns. I’ve heard Christopher Hitchens bring it up a few times too. I am particularly fond of Hitchens, even though I disagree with him on most all accounts. In my next few blogs I plan to bring up a few of his ‘immoral’ citations from the bible including circumcision, and the crucifixion of Christ.
When I was young growing up in the church it was obviously not a terrible thing for God to ask Abraham to go kill Isaac because I knew the ending long before I understood it. And when I did understand, it was already settled in my mind. In Brave New World, this would be called conditioning. Admittedly I have been conditioned. Having acknowledged that I want to show some truths of why God would ask Abraham to do such a thing.

Abraham was from Ur, a Sumerian city. He was not an Israelite (being Israel’s ancestor) but a Sumerian. In the region he was from child sacrifice was not uncommon. Abraham was old and childless when God told him he would make his babies as numerous as the starts, and through him would bless all nations. Abraham believed, and Isaac was born. God then tells Abraham to go kill his son, as sacrifice. Abraham reluctantly goes to follow the Lord’s command. When the knife is raised high God stops Abraham and lets him know that he will provide the sacrifice. This means that the culture Abraham came from where child sacrifice was accepted, is wrong. God was teaching him- a questionable teaching method, I know, but a good lesson, wouldn’t you agree. The story does not end here, however, but goes on.
Through Isaac is born Jacob, who bears Joseph, through which the nation of Israel is born in Egypt, where they grew in numbers that rivaled the stars in the sky. Moses is used by God to free his people where they break up into tribes, and wander around, bla bla bla, David is king- who is a descendent from Abraham, and an ancestor to Jesus. Jesus, is born and blesses the world (first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile) with his sacrifice on the cross. If Jesus is the son of God, then the prophesy given to Abraham became true at the resurrection.
But, wait, there’s more. Remember when God said I will provide the sacrifice? Well, the sacrifices were made so that those who transgressed could be forgiven. Jesus was then provided to forgive all, not provided or truly even provoked by man. The sins of man could not be forgiven by sacrificing what man had to sacrifice. Only God could provide a substantial sacrifice on man’s account. This is not terrible, because Jesus A) was self willed, and B) rose from the dead “conquered death” was not “obedient to death”.

[ added 12/11
The big moral issue is why would God ask Abraham to go kill Isaac to teach him not to kill his babies? I don’t know. But, I have a possible response, that does not totally satisfy the question. God asked because of where Abraham’s heat was at, and this works two ways.

1. Abraham said yes. He was not totally against child sacrifice, or he would have protested, and been right. But God was able to ask because Abraham would not have protested, and did not. It was not God who was the immoral Father but Abraham who was an immoral father.
2. Abraham was faithful to God, as Isaac was faithful to Abraham. God wanted Abraham to trust, even when it was uncomfortable. Abraham was not totally opposed to it, obviously, but he wasn’t jumping for joy at the chance to kill Isaac. God was letting Abraham know that he would be taken care of, even if it was hard to remain faithful to God; God always provides.
Also, I think God wanted to really bring this point home. When I get engaged I’m not just going to ask my girlfriend on a tuesday over at her mom’s house while eating Doritos. I’m going to go do something fun, and bring the emotions up, remind her of our first few weeks together, and make her nostalgic and longing for the future. I’m going to make her totally there in the moment emotionally, and then I’m going to ask. And it’s going to be awesome. I want that because I’m passionate about my future wife. I think God wanted the same thing for the same reasons. He didn’t just want to say, Oh, and don’t sacrifice your babies. He wanted Abraham to remember, to say to his children and grandchildren, “God always provides, and it’s important to listen and obey, even when it’s hard. He has a plan for you, not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future. Like the time he…” It is important to God, life is sacred, and he wanted to bring it home.
And lastly, God knew what was going to happen to His son, Jesus. He knew Jesus was to be led like a lamb to the slaughter. Abraham was called God’s friend, I think there’s a lot to that. My friends have shared some of my experiences, and the ones whom I’ve had more similar experiences often are closer. They shared an experience to share a friendship.]

The story of Abraham may be questionable, but look at it in new light as an object lesson for Abraham and an allegory and prophesy. If nothing else, it makes for a really ridiculously well fabricated story bordering on the divine.

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  1. Dani
    December 11, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    I like that you reference Brave New World. It’s one of my faves 🙂

    I like your whole proposal analogy too.

    I don’t have anything intelligent to say or add. Just keep writing.

    • December 11, 2010 at 6:46 PM

      That’s right Dani, we’re all just Pavlovian experiments. GET IT!

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