A Brief Skim Through the Bible

Abraham

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs
So we began with the Creation and how it is good and then we experienced the Fall where we see the distortion at the heart of things. Now we move to how God intends to rectify the situation.

God makes a covenant with a man called Abram (later Abraham) - this is the beginning of God's plan of redemption. God promises to make Abraham into a great nation, promises him land of their own and that he will bless all people of the earth through Abraham.

This is God’s answer to sin, he's going to restore the world.

So I want to read a famous account in Abraham's life where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his Son Isaac. I was brought up in a Christian family and remember having this read to me but looking back it is pretty disturbing. It's the sort of story that Richard Dawkins and his friends would argue how barbaric and monstrous the Abrahamic God is. What kind of God would ask a man to sacrifice his son?

Context: Abraham is an old man who has struggled to have children, but has been promised that he will be a Father to nations and eventually he and his wife managed to conceive a son.

Genesis 22

2 Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love - Isaac - and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will show you."

This is the first time in the Bible that the word 'Love' is used and it is used to describe a Father loving a son.

In John's gospel, the word love is first used in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son."

John was one smart cookie and knew what he was doing here. The words of John describing God's giving of his beloved Son, Jesus, deliberately echo those in Genesis 22.

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey and headed to the region of Moriah.

The region of Moriah is where, hundreds of years after Abraham, Jerusalem was built. Jerusalem was the centre of Israel’s national and religious life and where the Temple was built.

4  On the third day Abraham looked up and saw he place in the distance.

So for three days, he travels with his son who is as good as dead.

6  Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.

Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah. Centuries later, Jesus carried a heavy cross for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah.

7 On reaching the top of the hill, Isaac said to Abraham, "The fire and wood are here… but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering."

8 Abraham then tied his son to the wood and was about to kill him when the Lord cried out to him to stop and told Abraham to sacrifice a ram caught in a thicket.

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.

A better translation for ram is actually a male lamb.

Abraham then takes the lamb and sacrifices it and calls the place "The Lord will Provide.

Two thousand years ago on a mountain in the region of Moriah the Lord did provide. He provided not a ram, but the lamb for the offering. The Lamb of God: his son whom he loved. 

In response to Richard Dawkins: What kind of God would ask a man to sacrifice his son?The only answer we can give is - not this one! This is not a story about a God who demand everything, but instead provides and delivers on his promises.

Here we get a foretaste of what God will do to bless and provide for his chosen people.

God goes onto reaffirm the same promises to Abraham’s descendants; Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and despite them all making a massive mess of things and eventually the people of God (Abraham’s descendants) find themselves not in their own land but in Egypt living as slaves.

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