Tag Archives: Abraham

Could God be That Cruel?

What kind of god would command a father to kill his only natural son?  In Genesis, we read how God told Abraham,

…“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.” (Genesis 22:2b)

Some say there is no way this God could be the same God described in the New Testament, the God of Jesus, the God of love.  In their opinion, there is no way a “good” God would even suggest child sacrifice.  Makes sense, unless you know the whole story…

First, we must understand that it was not unheard of for pagan gods to require child sacrifice.  Abraham’s unquestioning obedience gives a strong indication that he had been aware of such practices.  Secondly, as you read through the account, just before Abraham stabs his son, Isaac, to prepare him as a sacrifice, God puts a stop to it.  Instead, God Himself provides the sacrifice.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “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.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:12-14)

God’s purpose, He said, was to test Abraham’s faith.  Even as a test of faith, however, this seems unnecessarily cruel.  Why would God put both Abraham and Isaac through such torment?  But there is more going on here.  God tells Abraham:

“I swear by myself, … that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you … and through your offspring [literally seed] all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:16-18, excerpts only, for clarity)

God’s plan to redeem and rescue “all nations” is reaffirmed after Abraham’s act of faith.  How will His plan be accomplished?  “Through [Abraham’s] seed.”  Who is that “seed,” that descendant?  It is  Jesus.  How do we know it is Jesus?  Because through Jesus, God fulfilled the plan.  How?  By sacrificing His One and Only Son as a sacrifice for our own sin.  Where did this happen?  On the same mountain!  Do you see the beautiful symmetry?

With that information in mind, reread this:

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

The God of the Old and New Testament does not require sacrifice from us.  This same God provided the necessary sacrifice, for us.  (If you don’t understand why the sacrifice was necessary, click here.)  Jesus, God’s One and Only Son, went to the cross on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, to pay for our sins.  Here’s how this was foretold by the prophet, Isaiah:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:5)

This profound gift of grace, given to redeem and rescue all those who will receive it by faith, is perhaps the most compelling evidence that God has not changed.  He is the same God throughout the whole Bible.

Ancient Glimpses

Long time no post…  We’ve been wandering for a month or so, from Colorado up over Lake Superior in Canada and back, by the little squiggly roads.  We’ve encountered beautiful sights and some really crappy WiFi.  Worth it though…

So then, back to the “Fresh Bread;” here’s a mind-bender for you…

Isaiah saw glimpses of Jesus, 700 years before His birth; we’ve mentioned that before (See “Ancient Sroll; Secrets Revealed”). Go back 300 years earlier, and King David saw glimpses of Jesus, too:

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”  Psalm 110:1

The puzzle in that first line of David’s psalm is that David says that God (“The Lord”) speaks to his God (“my Lord”).  Who does he say God is talking to?  Jewish theologians from antiquity agreed: David was referring to the Messiah.  But the Messiah was understood to be a king from among David’s descendants.  How could David call a descendant of his “my Lord?”   Jesus posed this question for the theologians of His day:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

“ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’  Matthew 22:41-44

David had been given a glimpse of Jesus, 1000 years or so before His birth.  In that same psalm, David talks of Jesus’ powerful rule.  In poetic imagery, he alludes to Jesus’ eternal life, saying that each new day…

Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.  (Psalm 110:3b)

But then David calls back an event from the life of his ancestor, Abraham, that took place 700 years earlier, 1700 years before Jesus.  Abraham was returning from a battle he knew God had caused him to win, seeking a way to give thanks and honor to God, when a mysterious stranger showed up.  His name was Melchizedek, which means “King of Righteousness.”  He served Abraham as a priest, receiving an offering of thanks for God, serving as one through whom Abraham could connect to God.  He then vanishes from the pages of Scripture.  In addition to not having any record of his lineage, Melchizedek has no death recorded in Scripture.  But the really unique thing about him is that he served as both a king and a priest, something no other king or priest has ever done.

David, in his psalm, says that God says to the Messiah:

“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”  (Psalm 110:4b)

This may sound confusing, but David was saying that one day, a descendant in his line would be a righteous, powerful, supreme leader, a man who would live eternally, and who would serve as both a king and a priest.  Jewish scholars and theologians who puzzled over that psalm generally agreed.  1700 years later, Jesus acknowledged that He was that Descendant, Righteous King and Perfect Priest.  He would serve to connect us to God in a perfect way.  The author of the Book of Hebrews later gave a rather detailed explanation about how all those pieces fit together (Read Hebrews 6:13 – 8:2).

When I consider how unlikely it is that such ancient glimpses of a Messiah would ever fit together, much less be realized in the Person of One Man, my head swims.  And all of  that just skims the surface…