“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here am I.’ 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.’ ” (Gen 22:1-2, ESV)
This is a portion of Scripture which continues to cause in me mixed feelings and emotions. In fact, considering debates about the existence of God, this passage is in many ways most troubling for me because I agree that God does in fact exist. I mean what kind of God gives a man a son and some time later require that man to sacrifice his son. And this is no metaphorical sacrifice. Its real wood; real fire; a real ascent up real rocks; a real binding; and a real knife. Its a real slaughter (22:10). Try selling this God in 2010. Have you comfort before this God? Can you explain this God?
Do you run to the imminent verses which stay the hand of Abraham and spare Isaac?
Do you stop your ears to the silence of the long walk up the mount?
Do you turn your eyes from the binding of a child by his father?
Do you see the confusion and stress in Isaac’s eyes?
Do you feel it in Abraham as he wrestles with the silence of God?
Do you hear the confusion screaming……screaming………SCREEEEEAMING!!!
“Take your son…….
your only son……
whom you love….”
In fact, to these questions, I answer no. Nope.
No, I want the following verses. I want resolution. I want rest in the ending I would hope for, no….expect. I want the end, the day, the moment to be aligned with my expectations.
I wonder how much of my time is spent with my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears when I read the Bible and go through my day, so that God can’t get through and that I might construct for myself a God who comforts, acts, saves, refines, and loves according to my expectations? Are not my mixed feelings as mentioned above evidence of the god I have constructed warring with God, who is True? This is the difficulty. I am, after all (as is Isaac) entitled to life. It seems intrinsic to my existence. If (or since)I have been created; if I exist; if I have life , I have, at the very least an entitlement to received those things, events, needs which would support, merely, my existence. Right? Yet, Gen 22 betrays this. It betrays us. It betrays me at the essential level of being or not being. It betrays the reasons I have to demand of God certain rights and privileges.
God tests me here, as he tests Abraham.
Engineers can draw a bridge and surmise about its capabilities. But the math and physics of the structure are confirmed in results which comes about via testing. Talk all day about the strength of a bridge; the endurance of a bridge; the science of a bridge, but the evidence is in the testing.
Talk all day about your faith. Sing all Sunday about your God. Speak all week about your love for Christ, your friends, and your family. But the evidence is revealed in the testing.
What do we do; how do we respond; where do we go when God reveals Himself in a way that seems contrary to us in every way. What do we do:
When we are physically harmed or maimed?
When we are rejected?
When we lose a loved one?
When life does a 180?
God says I allowed all of it?
God says I willed it?
What do you do when its your existence being compromised by the will of God?
Such an abstract notion demanding all of my being, which cries, hungers, feels….
I am confronted with the love of God which seems to me to be cruelty. Ahhhhh! What a betrayal!
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
Oh my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.”
Ps 22:1-2, ESV
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory,
should make the founder of their salvation perfect
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out
with a loud voice,
‘Eli Eli, lema sabachthani?’
‘My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?’ “
Mt 27:46, ESV
“In this is love,
not that we loved God
but that he loved us
to be the the propitiation for our sins.“
“And a voice came from heaven,
‘You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.’ “
Is it that the atheist doesn’t believe in the existence of God? Or is it that he believes and does not want such a God as revealed in the Bible?
When the rubber hits the road, I am the same.
Yet it is you, my Lord, who opens my eyes and gives me the perspective beyond my capabilities which leads and defines and offers real hope; real joy; true purpose.
In my confusion, in my limitations, in my decay, in my grave…
into your hands I commit my spirit!”