23 Jan. Genesis 22:1-18

23 Jan. God challenges Abraham over child sacrifice

"After these things God tested Abraham's faith. God said to him, 'Abraham!' And he answered, 'Here I am.'"

"Then God said, 'Take your only son, Isaac, the son you love, and go to the land of Moriah. Kill him there and offer him as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.'"

"Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took Isaac and two servants with him. After he cut the wood for the sacrifice, they went to the place to which God had told them to go."

"On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to the servants, 'Stay here with the donkey. My son and I will go over there and worship, and then we will come back to you.'"

"Abraham took the wood for the sacrifice and gave it to his son to carry, but he himself took the knife and the fire. So he and his son went on together."

"Isaac said to his father... 'We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb we will burn as a sacrifice?' Abraham answered, 'God will give us the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.' So Abraham and his son went on together and came to the place God had told him about."

"Abraham built an altar there. He laid the wood on it and then tied up his son Isaac and laid him on the wood on the altar. Then Abraham took his knife and was about to kill his son."

"But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, 'Abraham! Abraham!... Don't kill your son or hurt him in any way. Now I can see that you trust God and that you have not kept your son, your only son, from me.'"

"Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a bush by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and killed it. He offered it as a whole burnt offering to God, and his son was saved. So Abraham named that place 'The LORD Provides.'..."

"The angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time and said, 'Because you did not keep back your son, your only son, from me, I will make this promise by my own name: I will surely bless you and give you many descendants. They will be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, and they will capture the cities of their enemies.'"

"'Through your descendants all the nations on the earth will be blessed, because you obeyed me.'"

          (Genesis 22:1-18)


 

Child sacrifice was a common feature of many religions in Abraham’s time, and God needed to prepare Abraham for a radical move away from the traditional religious practices of his day. So God challenged Abraham's faith over the issue of child sacrifice.

The Bible tells us that God 'told' Abraham to take his son Isaac to the Land of Moriah and offer him as a child sacrifice. The text here is somewhat contradictory, however, as when Isaac asks his father, "Where is the lamb we will offer as a sacrifice?", Abraham assures him that, "God will give us the lamb for the sacrifice". (Genesis 22:7-8) Either Abraham was already convinced that God would provide an alternative to sacrificing his child, or he was openly lying to his son.

Abraham prepared an altar for the sacrificial offering. Then at the last moment, God provided a ram for the sacrifice and Isaac was spared, as Abraham had believed, in faith, would actually happen. Testing Abraham's faith to the limit, God had made it quite clear that child sacrifice was to have no place in worshipping the LORD - whatever might happen in the surrounding cultures.

Abraham called the place Jehovah-jireh (meaning ‘the LORD provides’). It would remind Abraham that in any future difficulties, the LORD would provide a great solution, however improbable it might seem to mere men.

The Mountains of Moriah are now known as the Jerusalem Hills. Subsequently, the rocky summit where Abraham built his altar became the site of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 3:1), now occupied by the beautiful Dome of the Rock (completed in 691AD) inside which the rock that served as Abraham’s altar can still be seen by visitors today. To Muslims, the Haram al-Sharif (the ‘Noble Sanctuary’) also marks the site of Mohammed’s night journey to heaven in c.620AD.

The story of Abraham’s sacrifice is told graphically on an ancient mosaic dating from 518AD on the floor of the Bet Alpha synagogue near Beit Shean. The beautifully preserved mosaic (see the photo) shows Abraham preparing to offer Isaac on the altar, while his two servants hold the donkey. In the centre of the mosaic, a ram gets caught in a thicket, beneath the hand of God’s providence.

You can read more about Abraham @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/23-the-journeys-of-adam-enoch-noah-abraham/abrahams-sacrifice-on-mount-moriah/


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