Sunday, November 4, 2007

Abraham and Isaac (Gen.22)

Without a doubt, this is one of the most scandalous, surprising, disturbing, and shocking passages in all of Scripture. God asks Abraham to straight up murder the son that was born after a 25-year-old promise was finally fulfilled.
This was the passage that I preached on Sunday. I wrestle with Scripture every week--actually, Scripture wrestles with me--but this week this text got the best of me. The difficulty is that we are not allowed to read Scripture as bystanders. We can't peek into Scripture as we peek out of windows. We don't read Scripture as a history book. Instead, we are invited to put it on...get into the story...live into the moment. However, this is one text that I struggled to get in on.
Here's how I preached it. Let me know what you think:
-One way to read this story is to see Abraham as a man that is fully present. In 22:1, 22:7, and 22:11, Abraham responds, "Here I am." This is his response to God, to Isaac, and to the angel of the Lord. Abraham is fully present. He is fully attentive. This is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to God and to our fellow human beings.
-God takes faith very, very seriously.
-An untested faith cannot be strengthened.
-This story doesn't allow Abraham to be the hero. This story is not about the faithfulness of Abraham; this is a story about the faithfulness of God.
-The statement, "God provides," is scandalous. We live in a society that says that bank accounts provide. It says that reason, logic, and greater knowledge provides. However, we are the people of God that hang our hats on the fact that God provides.

This text got the best of me.
Are there pieces of Scripture that have gotten the best of you?

7 comments:

Rick Ross said...

Great observations.

The passage that 1st comes to mind to me is "Love your enemies." It is just so unnatural.

Anonymous said...

I think there are many difficult scriptures that cause us to remember that we are not in control but we have given control over to God. An example is the passages that discuss gossip-we really do like to talk about each other!

Edward said...

I look forward to reading your blog Josh. I would like to talk to you about setting one for myself sometime. By the way I appreciated your "struggle" with scripture Sunday.

Anonymous said...

It's a difficult passage and you preached a really good sermon on Sunday. C.S. Lewis said that we learn more truth by engaging the difficult passages than we do the easy ones. Well done, Josh.
Blessings, kcp

Anonymous said...

I was moved to tears and repentance by your sermon, the words of the song service, and prayers lifted up. I've been whining like a baby lately. "Oh yea of little faith!" How did Abraham do it???!!! Surely I can trust the Lord to get me through tomorrow, if Abraham can do what he did. Our group had an especially moving prayer time following your sermon. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I was most interested in your comment that "an untested faith cannot be strengthened."
The image you showed onscreen was an image of someone actively ready to kill their very highest hopes and dreams, in a way their own selves, for the Lord, while fully expecting and believing that He would provide a better plan. In a different way, I think we are prone to make some personal sacrifices while sometimes strictly avoiding that our children be touched by sacrifice. This kind of "protection" may not bring them closer to and understanding of God. Isaac could vividly testify to His father's faith. --lt

Beverly Ross said...

Genesis 22 took on life for me when you had just turned 13. We had moved to Mesquite and it was so hard on you. You came into my room one night when you couldn't sleep and we both cried over your desire to move back to Crockett. I told you the story of Genesis 22 and through our tears we sacrificed your 'happiness' only to watch in anticipation of what the 'Lord would provide'. He was so faithful to you! He gave you such a heart for the lonely and the 'new kids'. Yahweh-Jireh showed up that season!