Genesis 22 Extended
Sunday morning's sermon came from the story of the near-sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22. If you want the audio, it's here to hear. Here's a few additional thoughts:
1. Ritual child-sacrifice was not uncommon in the Ancient Near East. It's really not uncommon in ancient cultures around the world. No matter how common of a practice it was, it's still evil. Going all the way back to the Flood: don't take the life of another. The only exception granted there is for the guilty-in-no-uncertain-terms murderer who is to be put to death for the crime. Majority opinion does not equal right behavior before God. Most of the Canaanites around Abraham would have normally practiced some form of ritual sacrifice, and the record shows that human sacrifice, while not everyday, it wouldn't have been foreign to them.
What have we to do with this? Something to keep in mind is that the God of the Bible is not like most gods of human religion. Without getting too crazy into the history of religion, most religions start with someone seeking meaning in life. They are meditating, searching, whatever---but Biblical religion starts with Abraham who is apparently minding his own business and God speaks to Him. Likewise with Noah. Nobody's really sure what happens with Enoch at all…The point here is that our practices of worship ought to be different from the world around us. They ought to reflect differently on both us and our God, because we are serving God as He requires, not as we desire. That's important. Very important.
2. I firmly believe that the Bible contains all we need to know, though here's a place that I find the Bible does not have all I want to know. I want to know—does Abraham object at all in this situation? He just seems to very willingly take his son up on Moriah and sharpens his knife. If that's the test of faith, one thing I recognize is that I'm toast. As best I can, I would not put my kids in danger much less willingly sacrifice them.
So what about it? We don't get to know. We do get to know the point: whatever Abraham may have said, this story isn't about him anyway. It's about God. It's about the fact that Abraham is told not to put the knife into his son. The story is the foreshadowing of the one time that a Father willfully sacrificed His Son. It happens in the same neighborhood, just about 2 millennia later. At the Cross, when the Lord Jesus took all of our sin and died for us, taking the punishment we deserved.
3. On the less applicable side, let's talk history for a moment. Tradition holds that the mountains of Moriah are in the same general area as Jerusalem. Further tradition places the Temple Mount as the specific peak that the events of Genesis 22 took place on. In truth, there's not clear Scripture to answer this specifically.
I think it might be a shade different. There's another hill in the Jerusalem area that is more significant in the life and faith of Christians than the Temple Mount is. That's the hill called Mount Calvary, or Golgotha, or the Place of the Skull: where the sinless Son of God offered Himself, where God provided Himself the sacrifice (Genesis 22:8).
Reading through Genesis 22 is quite the challenge. There are points of application throughout for all of us. Read it, consider it…what would you do?