After these things God tested Abraham and 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 of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:1-2).
God’s command of Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac is one of the most troubling in Scripture. Yes, God creates life, so it is his for the asking, and taking, but not children, not child sacrifice. That is the great sin of wicked people to phony foreign gods. Right? Yet God commands this of Abraham. Explanations have been offered. Perhaps God was dramatically displaying that he is not like these pagan gods because he stops Abraham’s knife before it plunges into Isaac’s chest. Maybe this was a terrifying test to the ultimate length Abraham would stretch his faith. Certainly this is a foreshadowing of “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son” and Jesus on the cross was God’s sacrifice for the sins of the world. It is okay, is it not, for God to ask this of Abraham in light of God’s willingness to do it himself with his Son. These are some of the offered answers. Do any satisfy?
Martin Luther, the 16th century reformer, during devotions with his wife, read the account of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar. Katherine Luther argued, “I do not believe it. God would not have treated his son like that!” “But Katie,” Luther replied, “He did.” That may be as good an answer as we get. Abraham trusted God for his son; now he must trust God with his son. That’s what we know. “A man’s got to know his limitations,” cautioned Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, and Abraham learned his faith has none. Abraham proved himself faithful, and God proved himself faithful. So what do we learn? We learn what God expects from us, and what we can expect from God. God gave his only son. There should be no limit to my faith because there is no limit to God’s love.
God Almighty, You are faithful and just, and You are good. I trust You no matter what, because You are the only place where trust is always satisfied. This means, God, that the times when I don’t understand, it’s okay, because I don’t have to understand. You have a plan and a purpose, and that is enough.
Teach me to be strong in my faith, to place my all in Your hands, no limits, to love You completely.