In preparing for this post I ran across some very interesting ideas and thoughts on the sacrifice or near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. They range from Isaac actually was sacrificed and was raised from the dead to continue the life of the “promised son”, to the one that I am going to share with you tonight. I read about 5 different viewpoints and believe this one from a man called Zoltan Fischer fits more what I believe about the entire story. His article “Sacrificing Isaac” is very interesting and here is the link to read it. In a much shorter explanation, Mr. Fischer thinks that Abraham misunderstood – in some way – the instruction to “sacrifice” Isaac. The one thing I thought was interesting was the word used in the original text for “burnt offering”. It is the word “olah”. Here is the JewishEncyclopedia.com website’s definition and/or explanation.
“The ordinary translation in modern versions of the Hebrew “‘olah” (). This term does not mean literally “burnt offering,” but “what is brought up” or presented to the Deity. The name is a translation of the Septuagint rendering, which is itself based upon the descriptive phrase often attached to “‘olah” in the ritual prescriptions: “an offering made by fire unto the Lord” (Lev. i. 9 et seq.). A synonym is, which defines the offering as complete; i.e., when it is placed upon the altar, to distinguish it from the other forms of animal sacrifice (see I Sam. vii. 9; compare Ps. li. 21). The burnt offering was the highest order of sacrifice in the Old Testament ritual. The bloodless offerings were made only in connection with it.”
“It has been pointed out by scholars that G-d could have used the word for ‘slaughter’ but He did not. He used a slightly more ambiguous word that still conventionally meant ‘sacrifice’ but left open some other interpretations, in my opinion. There is more than one way a father can offer his son to G-d. He can offer his son’s life-long service or he can offer his son’s blood and burned body. Abraham started to think about this.” (from “Sacrificing Isaac” by Zoltan Fischer)
Now there are some places where I am a little cloudy on but I do agree with Mr. Fischer that this story in Genesis is not intended to promote “blind faith”. God doesn’t want blind faith, necessarily. He gave us a brain and expects us to use it. Yes, we take things that the Bible says on faith coupled with studying and research… well, we should anyway. I have found so many things that I didn’t know and so many things that have been untwisted in my mind since I have begun studying what God’s Word really says. We, as Christians, should not just take everything on “face value”. We have to understand what is in this Book the Bible so we can explain, in an intelligent fashion, to others that either don’t believe or simply don’t know and are seeking. There is a scripture that tells us to know why we believe what we believe. Here is the scripture:
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
In my mind, “being ready” means know what is in the Bible and know why we believe it. Yes, now there is a personal experience with Jesus Christ that a Christian experiences when they are “saved”, however, there is more to it than just the “feeling” that we have when we are saved. We have to know that we know and why we know. It will strengthen your relationship with our Father! Believe me! It will! I have grown so much over the past couple of years … and really a lot in the last 6 months! Mainly because I have made a choice to study and find out what the scriptures mean and what is the lesson in the stories in the Bible. How do they relate to me and my life with Jesus today?
With that said, let’s look at the scripture about the sacrifice – or near sacrifice – of Isaac.
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
2 Then He said, “Take now 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 of which I shall tell you.”
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad[a] and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, 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.”
13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
As I said in yesterday’s post, God always provides. He, the other Father, provided His Son as a sacrifice for us so that we may live. God also provided a sacrifice for Isaac so that he could live.
With that said, here is the next scripture (verse 14 about God providing). This is one of the “names of God”. Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Will Provide and provide He did.
14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide;[b] as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
This is where I will stop tonight. The prayer between Abraham and God (and the Angel of God) is so precious. There is a lot that is left out of the text and I probably won’t be able to get to each part of it. However, I will attempt to provide another day or so and go over more of the prayer time.
Thank you for reading and thank you for joining me on the “journey” in this series on Prayer. As you can see there are many twists and turns that we will take as we study “prayer” along the way.
The Video – Our God is an Awesome God (with lyrics) – Michael W. Smith