God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac is one of the most troubling in Scripture. God creates life, so it is his for the asking, that’s true. But only phony gods ask for children to be sacrificed, right? So, why did God? Here are some of the explanations that have been proposed. Perhaps God was dramatically displaying that he is not like these pagan gods because he stopped Abraham’s knife before it plunged into Isaac’s chest. Or maybe since Abraham was the Father of all of God’s people, God gave him an extra-terrifying test of the strength of Abraham’s faith. Or maybe this was a picture, foreshadowing God’s own son, Jesus Christ, sacrificed on the cross. 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 alter. 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 there is. If Abraham trusted God for a son, he must trust God with his son. 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 Almighty, You are faithful and just, and You are good. I trust You no matter what, because You are the one 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, to love You completely.