Hello, Scroll Eaters! In Genesis 20-23, we see fulfilled the first part of God’s promise to Abraham: he has a son by Sarah and they name him Isaac. But before this happens, the slow-to-learn Abraham pulls the same “Uh, she’s my sister” nonsense on Abimelech, with roughly the same results. Like us, Abraham keeps getting himself in stupid situations , and as with us, God keeps bailing him out. Glory to God for his mercy!
Now that Isaac is here, Ishmael feels the standard envy all older siblings feel when the baby arrives, but with two separate mothers involved, it turns ugly quickly. Sarah wants Hagar and Ishmael gone. Abraham consults the Lord, and the Lord says, “Let them go.” After all, Ismael is 13 now, so off they go, without any support net. God lets them get to near death and then “The Angel of the Lord” ministers to them, letting them know that’s he’s there, and that Ishmael, a son of Abraham, will become a great nation as well. Of course, Ishmael and Isaac are still quarreling brothers.
When Isaac is old enough to know about the sacrifices, God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It’s one of the darkest, most confusing, and most controversial passages in Scripture. Why would a loving God tell someone to kill an innocent child? God forbids child sacrifice in the Law, so why call for it here? Two quick observations: first, by no means will God allow Abraham to go through with it; he just wants to know if Abraham will. Better said, he’s wants Abraham to know Abraham will go through with it. See, the trick is, Abraham’s been wondering for twenty-five years if and when God was going to give him that promised son, and soon after he does, he decides to take it back? It’s a test of Abraham’s faith in God to provide both the heir and the lamb. The second observation can only be appreciated as we read the Bible “backward.” Many have pointed out the parallels between this incident and what happens with Christ. The Son carries the wood of his execution on his back up the hill; Isaac carries the wood for the fire of the burnt offering on his back up the hill. Abraham carried the knife and fire – the tools of the killing of the offering. The Father was the orchestrator of the sacrifice of Christ from before the creating of earth. In both events, the father was the sacrificer. The difference in them is that the Father went through with it, and it was his idea! Abraham was not made to go through with it. God gave an example to Abraham’s descendants how close to annihilation they all were, and how painful it would be to sacrifice one’s own son – then he did it himself.
Sarah dies at 137, and Abraham buys a plot of land to bury his wife. Isaac is now 47 years old, and it’s time to find him a wife.
Tomorrow, we read Genesis 24-26.
Until then, Scroll Eaters, the Lord bless you and keep you.