Summary: I thought God hated child sacrifice? What is God doing asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son?
OPEN: I read the true story of a woman who told of the time she was teaching the toddler-age Sunday school class. Part of the reason she taught there was that her daughter was in that class.
During one lesson on creation she was trying to make the concept as understandable as possible, so she asked like questions like:
"Who made the trees?"
(To audience) Well – who did make the trees?
Then she’d ask: "Who made the sun?"
(Wait on audience) God did!
“Who made the animals?”
(Wait) God did!
“Who made you?”
(Wait) God did!
Later that week at home she walked into the living room and found her daughter’s toys scattered everywhere. That upset her and she got really frustrated and said,
"Who made this mess?"
My daughter looked at me with a proud smile and said,
(Wait for audience to respond) "GOD DID!"
(Carol J. Rivest, "Heart to Heart," Today's Christian Woman)
Now did God make that mess?
Of course not!
But to that little girl that was the right answer.
(Pause) It was the WRONG answer, but she didn’t know that because there were things about God she didn’t understand.
Now when we come to the story (Abraham and Isaac) this morning there’s something here - about God - that is hard to understand.There’s something about God here that just doesn’t make sense.
In fact, if you didn’t know the LAST CHAPTER of this story (“The Last Chapter” is the theme of this month’s sermon series), if you didn’t know that last chapter it was seem totally irrational.
But first, let’s revisit the story.
Years before Isaac’s born, God makes a promise to Abraham.
He said Abraham was going to be the father of many nations.
But, of course – in order to do that – Abraham needed to have a son, which he didn’t have one yet.
But the day came when God said to Abraham… “I will bless (Sarah) and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Genesis 17:15-16
But still there was another small problem.
Abraham was a 100 years old… and Sarah was 90.
Even in that day people didn’t have kids when they got that old.
But God had made Abraham a promise, and so they DID have a son even though they were too old to have one.
Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.
Now, fast forward about 25 years or so.
Isaac has grown to a young man and he is the apple of Abraham’s eye. Isaac is a great kid and Abraham loves him deeply.
Then God stops by for a visit.
We’re told: “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’
‘Here I am,’ he replied.
Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’”
And Abraham DOES IT!
He offers up his son.
He passes the test.
And at the last minute – when he’s about to plunge the knife into the heart of his son - God steps in and says:
“Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:12
And later on – in Heb. 11 – God praises Abraham again for his willingness to do as he was asked
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’
Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” Hebrews 11:17-19
It’s all good now.
Abraham is repeatedly praised in Scripture as an example of faith in God.
In fact, because of his faith in God in Romans tells us that
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3
Now that’s good stuff.
In fact, I have preached just that.
But there’s one small FLY in the ointment here.
There’s just one itty bitty thing that makes this all sound kind of weird.
Anybody know what that itty bitty thing is?
(In both services, the audience looked unsure)
Really? It doesn’t strike you as odd that God has asked Abraham to sacrifice his son!!!
(PAUSE) God’s not supposed to do stuff like that.
In Deuteronomy 18:10 God declares: “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire”