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Genesis 22:1-19, Abraham’s Sacrifice

Abraham has come a long way in a short time. From doubting in God to placing his own son’s life squarely in God’s hands, it seems Abraham has taken a 180 degree turn. Was it really God’s request that Abraham sacrifice his only son, or did Abraham attribute to God something so heinous because, in the end, God did not require it of him? Or maybe this isn’t about God requesting the murder of a child at all. Perhaps this story is a foreshadowing of the kind of sacrifice God would ultimately make for us – a sacrifice we would not be capable of making. (Perhaps Abraham would have carried out the sacrifice – even so, it would not be the kind of sacrifice that would save all of humanity from sin and death, in the way God’s sacrifice would do.)

So we’re back to the turnaround. Not only did Abraham make a 180 degree turn, but by asking such a sacrifice and then providing an alternative, God also took a 180 degree turn in this story. Sure, we could look at our human timeline as a static, unchanging, predetermined course of events. But that wouldn’t be consistent with the vast array of choices laid out before us, or the many stories of God’s people that were heading in one direction and then chose a very different path, or the turn even God often takes. No, I think we have unlimited choices before us, and our life’s path can take many twists and turns. We might think we are going to retire in our current career just to be called by God into something completely different. We might think we are going to be parents and infertility derails our carefully laid out plans. We might think we will become financially secure by investing in real estate just to have the market crash out from under us. It’s completely disconcerting to be headed in one direction and then make a major turn in another direction. Fortunately, we have a God that walks with us no matter what direction we’re headed. A new career might give us a renewed energy for living that we would not have found in the comfort of our original career path. Infertility might lead to an adopted child who could not have been loved the way you love them. (Or a life without raising children, which can have blessings of its own.) No matter where you’re headed, don’t get too comfortable on the path because you never know when God might just change your path dramatically. (And it might just be the ride of your life!)

Genesis 22:1-19

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.