Summary: This amazing chapter brings insight into why God tests us and how God’s faithfulness always prevails.
Genesis 22: Sacrifice of Isaac
When God Asks the Unthinkable – Which He Does!
• Abraham - 75 yrs old when he left Haran (Gen 12:4);
• 11 years later: Still no son. Abe figures he has to take up the matter himself; fathers Ishmael at 86 yrs old (Gen 16:16); God says Ishmael is not the promised son – will be a son God and God alone provides
a lesson of great spiritual significance here, but no time! (Gal 4:21-31)
• Years of more waiting; gets to the point of seeming ridiculous - Sarah laughs
• 14 years later, when Abe is 100 – the promise fulfilled! (Gen 21:5) Names child “he laughs” (reflection of joy, but also irony of the fact that they laughed & scoffed at God’s promise) 25 years!
brings us today to...
Genesis 22: Sacrifice of Isaac
A disturbing story. There are in fact R-rated passages in the bible (sexual content, violence).
Isaac probably in his teens at this point.
READ v.1-2 Whoa! So many questions! These verses seem to confirm some of our worst suspicions about God.
v.1 First of all, Why would God need to “test” anyone? Doesn’t he know the heart?
“testing” like this conjures image of a capricious God who gets some strange enjoyment from afflicting his subjects with arbitrary trials
• This testing is not for God’s benefit – he knows Abraham’s faith
• Reasons for “testing”:
- to “reveal” what’s inside. Not to God, but to everyone else (often including ourselves!). Abraham had faith, but it’s invisible to others until it’s acted out.
- to “purify” – not only reveals what’s inside but acts on what is inside
In NT: these tests are often referred to as trials
For example, 1 Peter 1:7:
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.”
This verse speaks of the revealing aspect - “to show”. But Peter says testing also “purifies” - gold melted in crucible - impurities rise as gold sits on the flame. When cools, gold far more pure than before. An analogy for God purifying faith. He brings the heat, but his goal is to invest and refine your character, your faith. So precious to him to find someone who trusts him even when they don’t get what he’s up to, even when they are in pain. More precious, rare than gold!
v.2 Why would God suggest that he offer his own son in human sacrifice??
• As we read this, knowing the Bible, seems obvious to us that God would never really want him to do this...
Deut. 18:10 “...be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering…”
This actually was a common aspect of ancient religions; certainly in this part of the world. God warns his people never to do this.
• Then again, Abraham didn’t know this! Couldn’t open his bible and read that. Written hundreds of years after these events. Simply didn’t know as much about God as we do – not as much revelation. Very possible in his mind that God wanted him to do this, like all the other cultures in the area were doing for their deities.