Recently I was studying the cross. What happened is multi-faceted and probably will never really be fully understood in this life. As I was studying I came across the story of Abraham and Isaac. Have you ever had someone ask you about this story? I have. Here is how it goes, “what kind of god asks you to kill your firstborn son?” Which then usually goes into a diatribe about how destructive religion is and how the god of the Old Testament was barbaric and on and on.
I don’t have all the answers but I do know that God has worked in culture for his/her purposes to come about. Abraham lived in a culture that worshipped many gods. It was part of his life to offer sacrifices to the gods. The first of their livestock, crops and even firstborn children were offered to the gods in the ancient Sumerian culture.
When the voice of God first speaks to Abraham something different is happening. The unknown Divine is actually communicating to a human, is connecting in a way the gods do not connect with humans. Abraham responds and goes, not knowing where he is going but trusting in this God who is very different than the gods he has offered sacrifices to all his life.
At the point God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham obeys because that’s what you do if you are a good ancient, you sacrifice to the gods. I don’t believe the only point of this story is about Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience. As terrible as it must have been for Abraham, this request was not out of the norm.
The point of the story for me is this God said, no don’t, and provided a ram. This God is different than the other gods of his time, he intervened to show Abraham who He/She was – the God that doesn’t require a sacrifice but the God who provides. This God is love. This God provides. This God will intervene in time, space and history to connect with humans and say “go” or “follow me”
This God is not like the gods of stress, worry, success, image, consumerism, self-absorption, that demand our sacrifices of health, time, peace, joy, relationships, distraction from the real issues of life, humanity as we were meant to be.
This God provides! Learning to step into it is and ongoing practice eh?