Faith … The trouble with the Aqedah.[1]

Then God said [to Abraham] “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” Genesis 22: 2

This is one story that I have much trouble with.

Why would God ask Abraham to do something so abhorrent to God Himself? After all God hates child sacrifices? Isn’t this order against God’s own principles?

Why would God need to test Abraham anyway?[2] Doesn’t He know everything?

The funny thing is, why didn’t Abraham protest and reason with the Lord. Why didn’t Abraham ask God “Hello, you said ‘my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you ….in Genesis 17:21” (quoting chapter and verse), Now you want to kill Your promise to me? Have you forgotten? Hello?!!!“

Or at the least try to negotiate better terms, after all Abraham was a top negotiator when it came to Sodom and Gomorrah[3] (although they couldn’t even keep up with even the minimum requirement).

Or buy some time[4]? Maybe God would have changed His mind later? Or got over it.

No, Abraham did none of those things but set about early the next morning to do the deed. Why? I ask. Is faith so blind?

In an attempt to even try to understand what is going on, I naturally go to Mr Google and, by golly, there are a million and one[5] articles, comments and even books on this! Looks like I am not the only one having trouble with this. I delve deeper.

In Hebrews 11:17 – 19

 “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him. “it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.”

The word that struck home for me was the word “reasoned”. It was a rational decision that Abraham made. He was not in a frenzied state of mind or having temporary dementia. It was thought through. What was he thinking?

And in the earlier part of Hebrews 11:11 – 12

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

Abraham saw and experienced with his own eyes how his own “as good as dead” body (and that of his barren wife) were able to come alive, able to consummate, conceive and generate life. He saw Isaac grow in his wife’s belly and birthed out “laughing”. He had personal experience and had full confidence in God. In legal terms, he had precedent. God was always truthful and faithful.

Hence, God had no problems in giving the order and Abraham had no problem obeying it. So the trouble is not with the Aqedah, but the trouble is with me. I have my own hang ups and I call them “justifications.” Especially when I don’t want to obey God or to allow the Word to penetrate my heart. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart[6].

Perhaps this was a private conversation between two good close friends[7], God asking his good friend will you do this? And His good friend Abraham saying “yes, most certainly, because I trust You.”

God tested Abraham because He knew that Abraham would pass the test. He certainly will not test us beyond what we can bear.[8] He knew Abraham.

Abraham knew God and that God can be trusted. The love, trust and faith was reciprocal.

Perhaps it is not only Abraham that was tested and came up tops. Perhaps God was also tested to hold on to His promise to Abraham. And He certainly showed Himself real and faithful to the promise He made to Abraham. God never broke His covenant with Abraham.

Perhaps God foreknew that in the future He Himself will have to allow His one and only Son whom He so dearly loved to die on the cross and bear all the sins of the world. And He would have to say “yes”. God knows that that only through the death of His Son on the cross that death will be finally defeated and He can say victoriously

“Where, O death , is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[9]

Yes, Christ has indeed resurrected and is alive. Death has no hold on Him. Because of Him we are alive and have been given the gift of eternal life. God is faithful and true to His word to us. Will you allow God to speak to you? Will you be willing to obey Him absolutely?

In this season of Lent may this be a time of listening and obedience and to see the transformative power and miracles of God in our own lives.

[1] Aqedah is the Hebrew word translated “bind” in Genesis 22:9. It’s used of Abraham binding Isaac in preparation to kill him and then set him on fire as a sacrifice to God. Click here to read more about the Aqedah.

[2]. As a modern woman in the 21st Century the thought ot being tested does bring up negative emotions. Although in truth God has every right to test us..

[3] Genesis 18: 16 – 33

[4] This is a normal tactic. It is also called “buat tak tahu”

[5] I exaggerate. But this is a very old story and I am sure everyone from centuries past and religious inclination has a spin on this.

[6] Hebrews 4:12 – 13

[7] Of which we are given the privilege to hear (like a fly on a wall)

[8] 1 Cor 10:13

[9] 1 Cor 15: 55 and Isaiah 25:8

1 thought on “Faith … The trouble with the Aqedah.[1]”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *