Typically, the first thing I do with a lectionary text is highlight words or phrases that jump out at me, as well as make notes of initial responses to those words or phrases.
22:1 After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
Life is tough enough without a God testing us. Think of what people in your church are facing. They don't need to be tested by God, do they?
22:2 He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you."
What kind of God would ask a father to sacrifice his son? What kind of God would sacrifice his son? Amos had it right. God does not require sacrifices. (Amos 5)
22:3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.
22:4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away.
What are the places far away that have factored into our lives?
22:5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you."
Interesting that Abraham indicates “we” will come back to you. Was he just saying it or did he really believe he and Isaac would come back? Much of our theology lives in the land of ambiguity and confusion.
22:6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.
22:7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
Somebody has to ask the obvious question.
22:8 Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
It’s one thing to believe God will provide. It’s another thing to believe God will provide your son as a sacrifice.
22:9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
22:10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.
Imagine the therapy Isaac needed to overcome that.
22:11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
22:12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
Get another God. This sounds like a happy ending, but is it really? Imagine the damage done not only to Abraham and Isaac’s relationship but also God’s relationship to Abraham and Isaac.
22:13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
22:14 So Abraham called that place "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."
Too many children are getting “sacrificed” today. The United States sacrifices its children when it cuts spending on education. Parents, unbelievably, sacrifice their children. The world has too many absent fathers and mothers. What other examples of modern sacrifices of children can you share with your congregation? How does your congregation sacrifice its children? How might children be better incorporated into the life, ministry and worship of your church?
©2013 Liberal Lectionary resources