I have to admit that Genesis 22 is one of the most difficult chapters in the bible for me. Intuitively, it has always been difficult, but 10 years ago it became downright odd. Abraham waits nearly twenty-five years for the promised son, then when Isaac is about thirteen, “God tells him to sacrifice him as a burnt offering on the mountain.” You’ve got to be kidding me. The Lower Story (LS) is so ridiculous that it would get Abraham thrown in jail at the least, and probably committed…and rightly so. We’ve all heard and read stories about the religious, nut jobs that take the lives of others because God told them to, right? It just doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. Since he was 13, did Abraham want to “kill him” like all parents of junior high boys, or was there something more?
But as is always the case, God is writing an Upper Story (US). In the US, God is testing Abraham’s trust. I don’t believe he was testing to discover Abraham’s faith, but rather to reveal Abraham’s faith. You see, over 13 years parents can become very attached to their children. Imagine having the added parental burden of knowing that God has promised to make a great nation from this precious little one. I’ve known some parents who think that their child is God’s gift to the world, but this one really was. Isaac had become an idol to his parents…he had become more important to them than God.
When God tells Abraham to take Isaac up to the mountain and offer him up as a sacrifice, it’s really not that much different than what God is calling us to do today (well, okay, it’s a lot different in the LS). Anything or anyone that becomes more important to us than God is an idol to us. We are called to love God with everything we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This can’t be done if we are loving someone else with everything we are. We must give our children to God – not a LS sacrifice, but as an US sacrifice. We lay our kids before God by praying a prayer of release – Father, my desire is to love you more than anything, including my children. I release them to you and trust that you will do in them what is best and what will further your US. Grant me the obedience to follow-through every day of their lives.
What do you think impressed God the most – Abraham’s sacrifice or his obedience? What are some ways you can demonstrate your faith in God through obedience and sacrifice? What was God’s ultimate sacrifice? What was Jesus’ ultimate act of obedience? How does all of this affect your walk with God?