This Christianity is a strange business. The juxtaposition of faith and logic never seems to baffle me. That’s not to say that all of Christianity is illogical, but, let’s just admit it, a lot of it is.
By human standards, it makes zero sense that God would give up His son for mortals full of copious amounts of sin.
Beyond that, a lot of God’s directives in the Bible don’t make much sense either. Jesus told Peter to walk on water. I’m no physics major, but that just can’t be a good idea. God sent angels to barren old women on several occasions to tell them the Lord would be blessing them with children. I’m no OBGYN, but I think it is safe to assume that is IMPOSSIBLE.
I guess I can get over those kind of wacky examples and just choose to believe that they really did happen. The historical accuracy of the Bible is so amazingly verifiable that I feel safe and wise trusting its pages.
And just as I say that, God bumps things up to a whole new level of nuts.
In addition to giving us examples of God going against human logic, He decides to incorporate a story in which He seems to go against His own logic.
God told Abraham, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned” (Genesis 21:12). In other words, God TELLS Abraham that his family line will continue through Isaac. There is no tricky symbolism or otherwise unclear language employed here. Per God’s own words, Isaac is going to have at least one child.
“Some time later” – a decade or so is a safe bet – “God tested Abraham… God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…'” (Genesis 22:1-2).
There are SO many things “wrong” with this directive!
- Isaac hasn’t fathered any kids yet. How will Abraham’s line continue through Isaac if Isaac is dead?
- Abraham has no other (legitimate) sons through whom his line could continue. If Isaac dies, so does the family name.
- Abraham LOVES Isaac. Surely, there is not one cell in this daddy’s body that would choose to sacrifice his son, no matter what God said.
- Last, but not least, WE DON’T SACRIFICE OUR CHILDREN! It’s just a rule. We just don’t do that. There really shouldn’t have to be an explanation why on that one. Although the pagans may have done that in their rituals, the Israelites had never done that. Child sacrifice was totally out of bounds of acceptable worship to the one true God.
Abraham had every reason (except one) to assume these instructions to sacrifice Isaac were not from the Lord. Sure, Abraham had heard the words himself, but they did not match up with God’s previous promise or the traditional practices of worship. It would not have been hard for Abraham to reason, “I must’ve misunderstood the Lord. This just can’t be what He meant for me to do. It would break my heart, and there is no way the God of love would want to do that. Tomorrow I will go back to Him in prayer and ask for Him to clarify His wishes. I’ll feign confusion before Him, hoping He’ll conclude I am too dense for Him to use me in this particular way. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try to stall by asking Him for affirmation through other wise men. He’ll love that I want to be absolutely sure I’ve heard Him correctly before I ‘step out in faith’. After I ask for it, I’ll do my best to not see any affirmation He offers. If I don’t acknowledge it as such, it’s just like He never affirmed His will for me! I’ll be off the hook!”
Except that isn’t at all what Abraham did.
Despite the absurdity of the situation, “Early the next morning, Abraham got up… [and] set out for the place God had told him about,” (Genesis 22:3).
WHAT IN THE WORLD?!
What could possibly have been going through Abraham’s mind? God was seemingly off His rocker. Was Abraham off his too? Was he the equivalent to a parent who murders their children because they are suffering from some sort of psychosis?
I don’t think so. For one thing, no other records of Abraham depict him as having a mental disorder. On the contrary, he is portrayed as a man of great faith over and over again in the scriptures.
In fact, Hebrews 11 indicates Abraham was acting out of his faith in God by obeying God’s directive to prepare to sacrifice Isaac. How was this an act of faith? Hebrews 11:17-19 reads, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice… even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.”
Abraham believed God would honor His promise to preserve the Israelites through Isaac some way, some how, even if it meant God would have to resurrect Isaac to do so. Abraham took responsibility for his own obedience to that which he knew God had called him, and he left God’s fulfillment of His promise up to God. Abraham didn’t try to manipulate the situation or “help God out” by changing the plan. Rather, out of his belief that God would only ask Abraham to do that which was best for Abraham (and Isaac and the Israelites and the Kingdom), Abraham was able to overcome his desire to disobey the Lord and trust Him instead.
What crazy situations are you in? Is God asking YOU to do something that makes no sense? Is he asking you to sacrifice something or someone?
He is inviting you to trust Him with the outcome. We cannot begin to conceive of how God will use our obedience for our benefit and for Kingdom purposes. Like Abraham, we have to do our part – obey – and, by faith, trust God to do His part. He will. He can’t not.