Spirituality

Hey, God – You’re Kinda Creeping Me Out

Earlier this week, I was talking to another mother that I know and our conversation very briefly landed on theology. I mentioned Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as a part of this conversation and she asked me, “So, what do you think of that anyway? If God wanted me to sacrifice my son, I think I’d say ‘Hey, God – you’re kinda creeping out.'” I laughed, but it’s a fair question. Setting aside all the New Testament parallels, what do I think about that? My initial thought was that Abraham’s experiences with God had given way to complete trust. I still think that’s true, but I must admit, I can’t fathom sacrificing my daughter for anything.

And then I started thinking about other reasons God might have used this method to determine the depth of Abraham’s faithfulness. My hunch is that God uses our ideas about society and culture to get through to us or to help us understand certain things. Baptism, for example. Why, when the disciples started baptizing people who were newcomers to the faith did these people not say, “Huh?? You want to do what?” Numerous historical sources tell us that baptism was not originally a Christian practice and had, in fact, been around for a long time before Christ.  Of course, it meant something new when Christians incorporated it. I know that some people will get prickly about this, but why should it be at all diminishing to think that God would use an existing practice to help people identify with and understand the step they were taking?

I also hear people attempt to discredit Christianity based on the fact that the story of Jesus closely parallels stories of pre-Christian religions. But again, it makes sense to me that God would help us to identify with Christ by using familiar elements.

You would have to research further to confirm, but I have heard that even circumcision was a custom prior to God’s instruction to Abraham.

So, back to Abraham and Isaac. I think it is safe to say that at the very least our forefathers had familiarity with polytheism. It is referenced throughout the Old Testament. Indeed God addresses it directly with the commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” -Exodus 20:3. (It is interesting to note that God does not say that there are no other gods.) If the culture and religions of the time dictated that the people appease their gods to avoid mayhem and disaster through methods such as sacrifice, God’s order to Abraham to sacrifice his son may not have seemed quite as unbelievable as it does in our current culture. In the end of course, we must remember that God did not actually require such a sacrifice.

Just a few thoughts…

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7 thoughts on “Hey, God – You’re Kinda Creeping Me Out

  1. Well, no it may not have been as surprising to Abraham as it would be to us, but the fact remains that for God to ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was putting God’s promises in jeopardy. This was most definitely a point where Abraham had to trust that God was going to keep His promises. Understanding the culture of the day certainly makes the lesson all the more poignant.

    Good thoughts!

  2. I kinda look at it as God wanting us to realize what He was going to do. No one thinks sacrificing your child would be easy, not even God. I think that was the point. He was sorta saying, “Love me? Sacrifice the most important thing to you. It’s hard, right? Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that one for you.”

    1. Agreed! Thanks for responding. I didn’t mean to diminish the incredible nature of the sacrifice – just wondering if historical context might throw a little different light on it. Also exploring possible reasons that God might’ve tested Abraham in that way specifically. God, in His infinite power, could have chosen to do this in any way. Not that I EVER would presume to know… just intriguing to think about it!

  3. Also, right before Abraham left his servants with his son Isaac at the base of the mountain, Abraham said something along the lines of “Wait here, WE will be back.” There’s speculation that Abraham believed so fully in God and His promises that Abraham believed that even if Isaac was sacrificed, God could raise him back to life or something miraculous to fulfill his promises. I love your reflections! Enjoy!

    1. Thanks! You’re absolutely right. I just reread Genesis 22 and Abraham’s absurdness is striking! It is interesting – when Isaac asked his father where the sacrifice was and Abraham responded that God would provide, I always took it as sort of reassurance and avoidance on Abraham’s part. For whatever strange reason, I didn’t quite read it to mean that Abraham simply understood that God would fulfill his promise no matter what. Funny, the way things occur to us! 🙂

  4. I thought about your comments about the cultural aspects of sacrificing and while I haven’t studied into the history very much, it seems like God did do things that were pertinent to that time and place. I found this out when beginning to study covenants with God, specifically between God and Abraham in Genesis 15. Covenants were a common practice between kings and if one king didn’t keep his part of the covenant, the other could take his life and his country. While Abraham specifically understood what covenant meant, he knew exactly what God was doing when God told Abraham to prepare the sacrificial animals so that they could walk through the blood signifying what would happen to the other if he didn’t keep the promise. The beauty of this covenant though is that God caused a deep sleep to come upon Abraham and only God walked through the blood, signifying that only God would always be with Abraham and his descendants. And Abraham would have had that promise in his memory as he prepared to sacrifice his son!

    Of course I am not a Bible scholar, but once I understood our covenant relationship with God, it has changed the whole course of my life. Keep your thoughts coming. I always enjoy reading your blog.

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