By Jarrod Belcher
One of the most difficult stories to read in the Bible is when Abraham is commanded to take his son Isaac up on the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice in Genesis chapter 22. You’ll remember how it was that Abraham was childless until a great old age. But despite the impossibility of it all, God gave him a Son at the age of 100 years old. That’s what makes this story so puzzling. How could God ask Abraham to have his son Isaac strap the wood of the sacrifice upon his back and march up the mountain to be offered as a sacrifice?
One of the things that helps us here is to know something of the culture of the day. God had promised to give Canaan land to Abraham’s descendants. The people that lived in the land of Canaan were a wicked people. In fact they were so wicked that one of the gods they served demanded child sacrifice. This practice was disgusting to God to say the least. It was one of the reasons that the Canaanites were going to have their land taken from them and given to Abraham’s descendants. Yahweh is not a God like the Canaanite gods. And that’s the point of this story. So when God sent Abraham up to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to him, God stopped him as if to say, “I don’t want your sons to die. I want them to live.” You see that’s the kind of God we serve. He is a God that wants us to live.
The interesting thing is that God also has a Son and one day he would encounter the same scenario that Abraham encountered. In the gospels we find Jesus the Son of God with the wood of his cross put upon his back as he climbed the hill to Calvary. Only this time the sacrifice would take place. Not because God wanted his Son to die. But because he wanted his adopted sons and daughters to live.