What's with that title? Just read, man... it's all down there.
Want to know something shocking about the God you and I worship? Here's something: God told the patriarch Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, whom he loved to an as yet unknown location and present him as a burnt offering. Aside from the fact that Isaac wasn't Abraham's only son, which makes it look like the author momentarily forgot about Ishmael, this passage seems to blatantly contradict God's character, since He clearly condemns the murder of innocents, and especially the act of human sacrifice (Lev. 18:21), as was practiced in worship of the pagan god Molech.
Almost as shocking was Abraham's response, which was to essentially say, "alright, Lord, Your will is my command." Talk about a mindless automaton, right?
So, what about God here? Is Richard Dawkins at least partially right when he accuses the God of the Old Testament of being, "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."? (for a guy who doesn't believe in God he sure seems to hate Him a lot...)
So, what's really going on here? Of course a Bible-believing, Christ-follower like myself doesn't believe any of those facetious statements and questions. But if we are honest with ourselves we will have to admit that, at face value, this incident might seem to validate some of the terrible things unbelievers say about our God. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if many of you reading this have, at one time or another - or possibly right now - felt uneasy about this chapter. There are some who likely avoid this story, skimming it quickly when they come to it and never looking back!
Well, my goal with this four-part series on Genesis 22 is to not only dispel the fears and misunderstandings about this wonderful section of Scripture, but to also tear away the ugly veil woven from false preconceptions, misinformation, and plain old ignorance, to reveal possibly the most radiantly beautiful story in all of the Old Testament.
To that end I will craft this into three distinct sections, meaning that there will be three more blog entries on this subject. The first will be an in depth look at something called the "law of first mention" and its presence in Genesis 22. You do not want to miss out on the information which will be found in that entry! In the second phase we will explore the prophetic - messianic really - significance of the event. The third and final will be a special treat, as we will look beyond Moriah all the way to the end times. I assure you that whatever your eschatalogical stance may be, you will be comfortable with this portion. Of the three this third one seems to be the most revelatory and profound to those I have shared with, so keep an eye out for that!
Next time: The Mysterious Law of First Mention...