James Meehan - Why Did God Ask Abraham to Sacrifice His Son?
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So when I first became a Christian I knew reading the Bible was really important. The problem was I had no idea how to read the Bible or even where to get a Bible so I did what I did when I was looking for a book I drove to Barnes and Noble went to the section of the store that had all of the Bibles and the number of different Bibles was overwhelming to me. And so I looked at them all realized I have no idea what the best Bible to get is. So then I went home and Googled it because at the time I didn't have a smartphone. Get home Google, what is the best Bible version. And what I found on the internet was two primary responses to that question.
Response number one was whichever version you read and response number two was the King James Version or nothing. Now, if you're unfamiliar with the King James Version that is the version of the Bible that was translated in 1611, 400 years ago. And so it uses a lot of older English terms like thee, thou, thy, art, shalt all of those different things that don't get used very much in our world today. But because the internet was so convincing to me that it's either the King James Version or whichever one you read I knew the safe answer was King James Version. So I bought the King James Version, took it home, and I read that thing every night for 30 minutes before I went to bed and I did this for months. And about three months in I realized, I have no idea what I'm reading. And maybe you've had a similar experience where you've heard about the importance of reading the Bible. Maybe you've even tried to read it yourself but it is a struggle because you're just not really sure how to understand what's being written and that's what we wanna help you with today.
Is learning some of the principles and ideas and lessons that have helped us learn how to read the Bible more wisely. Because the Bible we believe is the most important book written in history. Because it was written by people, but it was inspired by God. It's a story that leads us to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus. Every page, every passage of the Bible is pointing to Jesus and showing us how to live like him. And that's why we read it. And what we wanna do today is tackle what is a more difficult part of the Bible. It's a story found in the Old Testament where God asks a man named Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
And so what we read in Genesis 2 starting in verse one and two is this. This is, "Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, 'Abraham!' 'Here I am,' Abraham replied. Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac and go to the region of Moriah sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.'" So what is the deal with this story? Why is God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac? Well, that's what we're answering today. And I think when we understand this story it helps us understand a little bit more about God and a little bit more about how He wants us to live.
So two primary reasons that God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Reason number one is that God wanted to test Abraham. That's literally what it says right there. It says sometime later God tested Abraham. God was trying to see how committed Abraham was to the partnership that God had invited him into. Now, it is important to note that at no point was God actually going to have Abraham sacrifice his son. That's why in the story, there's an angel that shows up and stops Abraham before the deed is done because God wasn't looking for Abraham to actually sacrifice Isaac. What God was doing was he was testing Abraham to see how committed he was. To see how much faith he really had. And Abraham, he passed that test with flying colors. That's reason number one, God wanted to test Abraham.
Now, reason number two is super interesting because the more we read the story and the more we understand about what God did through Jesus the more this one makes sense. Reason number two is that God wanted to give us a preview of what he was going to do through his son on the cross. Because the parallels, the comparisons, the similarities that show up between Jesus and his sacrifice and Isaac and his sacrifice are ridiculous. Like there are so many of them. I'm just gonna give you a couple of them because I think they're really interesting but there's so many more that you can find. The first one is that Isaac and Jesus were both born through miraculous circumstances. Abraham and Sarah, those are Isaac's parents were way past the age of being able to have kids naturally, but God miraculously blessed them by allowing Sarah to become pregnant and that's how Isaac was born.
And Jesus was also born through miraculous circumstances because his mom, Mary was a virgin. That means she never did what married people do to produce children, but she was still able to get pregnant and give birth to Jesus. Then other thing is that Isaac and Jesus were actually both named by God himself. In Genesis 17:19, God says this to Abraham, he says that, "Your wife, Sarah will bear you a son and you will call him Isaac". And in Matthew, 1:21, a messenger of God, an angel tells Joseph that Mary will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name, Jesus. Isaac and Jesus were both born through miraculous circumstances. And they were both named by God.
Now, this next one is really important. Isaac and Jesus were both loved by their fathers. The first time the word love ever shows up in the Bible is actually in this chapter, in this story. In Genesis 22, when God says, "Take your son, your only son whom you love and go to the region of Moriah". Then in the New Testament, the first time the word love is used, is when God the Father describes the love he has for his son in Matthew 3:17 where God speaks and people hear these words. "This is my son whom I love". This is the first time love shows up in the Old Testament and in the New. A father describing the love they have for their son. And what's interesting is if you keep reading in Matthew's gospel, that's what we read, then you go into Mark's gospel. It's also the same scene, at Jesus' baptism. And then in Luke's gospel it's the same scene, at Jesus' baptism, the first time love shows up in either of those books.
And then John's gospel. Love shows up in a little bit of a different context, but it's a pretty well known verse. It's John 3:16, where we read that, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". Over and over again in the Old Testament and the New, when we read about this idea of love, the first example we're given is the love that a father has for their son. The love that a parent has for their child. And this is super important because sometimes I think we can get confused about what love is because the way we define love in our modern culture is often as like strong affections or positive feelings or even sexual desires. But the way the Bible defines love is first the kind of relationship that a parent has with their child. And for those of us who are followers of Jesus we are children of God who have been adopted into his family. That means that you, you are loved by God.
So Isaac and Jesus, they're both born from miraculous circumstances, they're both named by God, they're both loved by their fathers. And then the last one we're gonna talk about today is that they were both willing sacrifices. They were both willing sacrifices. Like most father and son stories we think of today often are a lot of tension and conflict and bitterness between the father and son. Like I think of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, right? Like there is so much unhealthy drama in that relationship where it's like they're literally trying to kill each other. And I think if we're not careful we can read into the biblical story our assumptions because the relationship between Abraham and Isaac was not one of conflict, it was one of unity and compassion and deep love for one another.
And so we read about Abraham being asked to go and sacrifice his son, Isaac and they have to go on a hike to get to the place where the sacrifice would take place. And on this hike Isaac is carrying the majority of the weight. Like we're told that he has carrying the wood on his back while his dad, Abraham is just carrying the knife and the fire. Important detail here. Isaac is pretty strong and capable. His dad, he's like a old old man. And Isaac is a strong and capable son. If Isaac didn't want to be sacrificed, if his dad is like a hundred plus years old and Isaac was strong enough to carry the wood on his back if he wanted to resist, do you really think that Abraham could force him into this position?
I think that seems really unlikely. I think what's a lot more likely is that Isaac just like Jesus trusted his father and he was willing to follow his father wherever he was leading because he believed that what his father was doing was actually the best way of doing things. Way after this event takes place, even after the resurrection of Jesus Peter, an eyewitness of Jesus's death would write this. He would say that, "When they hurdled their insults at him, Jesus, he didn't retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he, Jesus, entrusted himself to him. God, the father who judges justly". Because Jesus trusted his father. Isaac trusted his father. In every single step of the way we're given a picture of God's love for us because he was willing to sacrifice his own son so that we could have our sins forgiven and we could be made right with him.
So what is the deal with God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac? The two main reasons we talked about are that God wanted to test Abraham. He wanted to see how committed Abraham really was. And reason number two is that God wanted to give us a preview of what he would do through his son, Jesus on the cross. And so as we are reading this story today for us I think it's inviting us to trust God the same way that Abraham did. To trust God the same way that Jesus did. And I think it's inviting us to see and believe that God's love for us is so extreme that he would sacrifice his own son so that we could be made right with him. This is why I love the Bible because even in some of the more difficult and confusing stories like this we are given a picture of just how good God is. And we are invited to become a little bit more like Jesus every single day.
Now, sometimes I admit it does take a little bit of work to read the Bible wisely and that's what we're gonna do every single week on the show is we're gonna walk through different passages of scripture questions that you have to paint a picture of how good this story really is. To teach you lessons that you can then take on your own and in your own Bible reading start to find some of these truths and nuggets of wisdom all throughout the Bible so that hopefully you can become a little bit more like Jesus and you can know just how much God loves you. And so if you have questions, if you have thoughts, if you have comments, make sure you drop them down below. Let us know what you thought and any suggestions on things that you want us to cover in the future. Well, thanks for joining us this week on Bible Nerds. Make sure you like, comment, and, subscribe if you haven't already. And with all that take care and stay nerdy.