“Right About God”

Categories: Bulletin Articles, M. W. Bassford

Genesis 22 contains one of the strangest stories in the Bible. There, God commands the patriarch Abraham to take Isaac, his only son, and sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah. This seems utterly unlike God. Throughout the Bible, He is the Helper of the helpless. The Law of Moses describes sacrificing one's children as an abomination. In Romans 1, Paul condemns those who are without natural affection.

Nonetheless, God commands Abraham to commit this abomination, to deny his natural affection, and to do that at which the heart of nearly any parent would revolt. We would expect such an instruction from the lips of the evil one, not the God who is wholly good.

Despite what has been asked of him, Abraham continues to obey. He takes Isaac to Mt. Moriah, ties him on an altar as as a sacrifice, and has his hand upraised to slit his son's throat before God stops him. He is willing to surrender even his only son if that is what God asks.

In Hebrews 11:17-19, we gain more insight into Abraham’s thinking. He knew that God had promised to give him countless descendants through Isaac, and he trusted that God would keep His promises. Thus, he concluded that if he obeyed God and killed Isaac, God would raise his son from the dead. He believed that God was capable even of resurrection; if that was what had to happen for God's promise to be fulfilled, God would do it.

As it happened, Abraham was wrong about God's plan. God never intended for him to complete the crime of killing his own son. However, Abraham was right about God. He believed that God was faithful, acted in accordance with that belief, and was rewarded for his faithfulness.

Thankfully, God does not ask any of us to present our children as burnt offerings! However, there are times when He asks us to do things that are confusing or difficult. Isn't it terribly hard to ask Christians who experience same-sex attraction never to act on that attraction, not even once? What about when we pray and pray for something, but as months and years go by, the answer to our prayers is nowhere in sight?

In these predicaments and many others, we might have our own ideas about why God is doing what He's doing. God has forbidden this because of X; God is not giving me what I ask for because of Y. These assumptions may be right; they may not be. Sometimes, though, we get so attached to our assumptions that when they prove to be wrong, we stomp off in a huff like Naaman did when told to bathe in the Jordan.

However, we don't have to be right about God's plan either. In fact, it may be that God is testing us by doing something different than we expect. Certainly, that was true in Abraham’s case.

Instead, we simply have to be right about God. Like Abraham, we must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, and we must have the courage to do it. If we do, even if we are completely wrong about what He is doing, we are certain to find His blessing.