Hey remember that time God told Abraham to abort his son? Said to make him carry the wood for his own pyre up the mountain. Lay him on it. Kill him with a knife. Set him on fire. If you want to talk about a loving God, probably don’t start here. Really, this is the one story I hear over and over again whenever anyone wants to prove just how monstrous God is and how messed up His people are.
Most of the time We try to explain it away. We hate it too. It’s universally appalling. We try to ignore the fact that Abraham was really going to do it. He had the knife in his hand. Even if Isaac lived, he lived knowing his dad was cool with killing him if the voice from the sky said so. This point we’re desperate for a positive spin. We encourage each other to have the kind of faith Abraham had. The problem is, it sounds pretty hollow when we clearly spend the whole time praying we would never have to be in a position to have that much faith ourselves.
If you want me to be honest, my short answer is just no. No. I would not do this thing. I can’t. It’s not virtue signaling. I just don’t have it in me. If the sky opened up and God’s voice boomed down, I would say no. The cost is just too high. Even though I hate the idea of God demanding child sacrifice, even though I wouldn’t do it and don’t even want to, God still demanded it.
There’s no getting around it. I believe God is loving, but that doesn’t make the demand here any less harsh. I’m usually fine with God punishing people, as long as I agree with Him that it’s wrong. As long as it looks fair. As long as it’s someone else. It’s a lot harder when it’s us. It’s worse when God demands something we can’t give.
I won’t make excuses for this. I won’t explain it away. God demanded Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac. That’s what the law does. It demands. It accuses. It’s perfect, and I’m not. His perfection is a lot purer than mine and He won’t change the rules just for me. If God is loving, He’s also just.
You don’t have to like it, but you can’t escape it either. When you try to reason away God’s law, dumb it down, or paint over it so it’s more palatable it never works out. The world hates God’s law. When you pretend it doesn’t exist in the hopes they’ll sign on, the world just scoffs and does its own thing anyway. We end up feeling slimy for trying to be disingenuous. It only gets worse from there.
The simplest explanation is usually the right one. If you’re the creator, I suppose you get to make the rules. Your roof, your rules. His world, His law. His law just happens to say “Don’t pimp your wife out to the king of Egypt because you’re afraid of him. Twice.” And “Don’t have an illegitimate child by the maid to force God’s hand because you don’t like how long He’s taking to work.” Simple stuff really. If you told the story from Sarah’s perspective this is a pretty abusive marriage. Sin breaks stuff. There are consequences that we can’t always fix. The wages of sin is death. The law will always look barbaric underneath every excuse and attempt to sugarcoat it because at the end of the day the cost of failure is just too high. A just God and a loving God don’t seem to mesh.
There’s really only one way to make it work. It’s written on the name of the mountain. The Lord will provide. God demands more than we can give, but His word provides everything it demands. When God’s word demanded too much of Abraham, He provided that too. Even a sacrifice.
Abraham looked up. And behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. Abraham was right. God will provide the lamb that wears the crown of thorns.
God’s Word demands that the sins which hurt our neighbor, destroy ourselves, and war against God be paid for with the highest of cost. So God’s word provides it. God sent His own son to bleed for you, to die on a cross for you, and to conquer death for you. God, in all of His justice, is also loving. So He made the two meet on the cross. Look to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He paid for every last sin we bury deep down, every last sin we can’t fix, and every last one we’re not even sure we want to. He died for you. It is finished. You are forgiven.
On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided. God sent His son to the mount of Calvary for Abraham, for Isaac, and for you to spare you from death by bearing it Himself and destroying it from the inside out. He loves you too much to see you try to cover what you can’t. He pays it for you. It’s not fair, but it is just. It’s not fair, but it is love.
Instead of trying so hard to deal with the knife in Abraham’s hand, look to the fact that the lord provides. It’s what Abraham was hoping for too. He provided Isaac against every odd. He was born to an old lady after years and years of heartbreak. He spared Abraham from every terrible thing he’d done. Over and over again, Abraham saw that the Lord provides. He says it himself. God will provide the lamb. He tells the young men who went with him to that mountain that somehow, two people will come back down. “We will return to you.” I can’t do that. Abraham can’t either. God can though. And more, He has.
Look to Calvary. On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided. Forgiveness for every evil that writes checks we can’t cash. Hope for a victory over everything we can’t survive on our own, and life that death cannot destroy.