EP 137: The Great Faith Of Abraham And Isaac

Diana WinklerDomestic Violence

We are discussing the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac on this week’s show. Is there another perspective on this difficult narrative? Is Abraham a horrible parent? Why would God ask them to do this? These questions and more we will explore, with a few alternative views presented. Be brave and join me on some challenging passages in the Bible.

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Abraham Isaac transcript

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Wounds of the Faithful Podcast. Brought to you by DSW Ministries. Your host is singer songwriter, speaker and domestic violence advocate, Diana Winkler. She is passionate about helping survivors in the church heal from domestic violence and abuse and trauma. This podcast is not a substitute for professional counseling or qualified medical help.

[00:00:26] Now here is Diana.

[00:00:33] Hello everybody. I’m coming to you live from the Winkler couch with my foot propped up on lots of pillows. Now I am not gonna show you the picture, my boot, you’ve all seen a boot before.

[00:00:51] But maybe later I can show you my scar when it gets, more healed up and I can take the boot off and wear regular shoes. [00:01:00] So, as you probably can gather that my foot surgery went well, very successful.

[00:01:10] I don’t have any pain with some Advil and Tylenol. Overall. Everything went great. So I am still here to do a podcast episode with you.

[00:01:23] I’m bored anyway out of my mind, so

[00:01:29] why not, right? I can sleep, I can watch tv, surf Facebook, but. I’m gonna do a podcast episode for you, and I mentioned last week that we were going to do Abraham and Isaac, Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and I mentioned last week that I almost didn’t do this one because it’s difficult. It’s not.

[00:01:58] It’s not an easy study[00:02:00] because the majority of our society tends to think that this is child abuse. We’re going to talk about that, but as always, God is recording things as they happen. And there are always lessons to be learned even in the difficult Bible passages. Even the ones we don’t understand a hundred percent.

[00:02:29] We do have to trust the Lord that

[00:02:31] He has our best interest at heart. He can see the long term picture and we can’t,

[00:02:40] we see the back of the quilt. There’s a mess. We don’t see the front of the quilt, where we can see how all the squares and rectangles, fit together to make something beautiful. So we’re going to be brave and go through this together.

[00:02:59] This [00:03:00] story takes place in Genesis 22. We did skip the previous chapters because I’ve already done a lesson on, Hagar and Ishmael. Please go back and listen to that one. And previous episode was, Lot and his daughters, the incest. We talked about Sodom, Gomorrah and the destruction of the city and a few things that Abraham has done.

[00:03:29] So your opinion of Abraham might not be very high right now, but join with me anyway. And we’ll see what we can learn from this passage.

[00:03:40] So verse 22.

[00:03:43] This was right after his treaty with Abimelech in the previous chapter. I’m not gonna read that. You’re welcome to it. We’re just gonna jump into the story.

[00:03:55] Verse one. After these things, God tested Abraham and said [00:04:00] to him, Abraham, and he said, here I am. He said, take 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. So Abraham Rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac.

[00:04:31] So let’s talk about the beginning of the story. God speaks to

[00:04:36] Abraham with an audible voice so he’s able to respond back.

[00:04:41] You find interesting in verse two. Take your son, your only son, Isaac. whom you Love. Uh, he has two sons. He has Ishmael, and he has Isaac.

[00:04:53] so I’m taking this passage to mean that Isaac is the only legitimate [00:05:00] son, the heir of the mighty nation

[00:05:04] that they are going to have in years to come.

[00:05:07] So you don’t hear any back Talk from Abraham at this point. And there might be some reasons for that. Abraham has always been surrounded by the pagan nations, and this was very common in the surrounding neighbors, the pagan nations, to sacrifice their children.

[00:05:32] So it doesn’t really,

[00:05:34] it might not be strange to Abraham

[00:05:37] that God Almighty has asked him of this. You don’t have any dialogue yet,

[00:05:43] but perhaps he’s thinking. Well, all the other gods around me, they’re all asking for child sacrifices. I guess this God isn’t any different. He’s gonna ask for a child sacrifice too. [00:06:00] Now speculation, but

[00:06:01] the context and the culture would support that is a possibility. didn’t question anything yet.

[00:06:11] In verse three, he took two of his young men with him, I suppose those are servants, and took his son, Isaac, And he, cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day. Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, stay here with the donkey.

[00:06:38] I the boy will go there and worship and come again to you.

[00:06:44] And Abraham took the wood of the burnt and laid it on Isaac, his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.

[00:06:56] So this is something that’s really important to notice, [00:07:00] is that Abraham said to his servants, to the two young men that were helping to please stay there, but he also said

[00:07:10] that they would come back after they worship. So Abraham is now stating that what he is doing is worship.

[00:07:20] He has Isaac carry his own firewood, and Abraham takes the fire, and the Knife

[00:07:32] and Isaac is, according to most commentators, Isaac is about a teenager. He’s still considered young. He’s a strong boy,

[00:07:42] and he’s smart, and he is paying attention. Isaac knows what you need for a sacrifice to God. Verse seven, he says, Isaac said to his father, Abraham. My father, and he [00:08:00] said, here I am, son. And he said, behold the fire in the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? Abraham said. God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.

[00:08:17] So they went both of them together. And it sounds like Isaac is a believer in the God of his father. He doesn’t question, Hey, we should get that lamb now before we get up to that mountain. He doesn’t ask a hundred questions. He follows his father.

[00:08:35] Verse nine. When they came to the place, which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.

[00:08:52] So this is interesting because again, his son Isaac, is old [00:09:00] enough to probably resist his father. He is old enough and strong enough to overpower his father. But he doesn’t. He lets his father wrap him up in ropes and laid him on the altar. We don’t hear very much dialogue from Isaac at this point.

[00:09:19] He’s probably scared. but I’m thinking perhaps

[00:09:24] Isaac is a believer in the God of Abraham and something is going to happen where he is going to be saved.

[00:09:32] And Isaac knows there has to be a sacrifice. If there is no lamb, something has to take the place.

[00:09:40] And the sacrifice.

[00:09:41] 10. Then Abraham reached out his hand, took the knife to slaughter his son, but the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham. And he said, here I am. He said, do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to [00:10:00] him. For now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.

[00:10:08] Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns, and Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up. as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called, the name of that place the Lord will provide.

[00:10:31] As it is said to this day, on the mount of the Lord, it shall be provided.

[00:10:37] Let’s read the rest of this. Verse 15, and the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, by myself, I have sworn, declares the Lord because you have done this and have not withheld your son. Your only son, I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply [00:11:00] your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.

[00:11:08] And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned to his young men. And they rose and went together to Beersheba and Abraham lived at B eersheba. So let’s talk about this

[00:11:33] because you’re thinking.

[00:11:35] Okay, the ram was in the thicket and he didn’t have to sacrifice his son. So why did God do that? And there is a few things to consider here. And this again is before the law of Moses. The law of Moses did condemn child sacrifice[00:12:00] ,

[00:12:00] so why didn’t Abraham question God? Because he had great faith, because previously God promised that Isaac

[00:12:12] his descendants would become a great nation. They would inherit the land of Canaan, so he had to believe, he had to have faith that what God had promised was true and he had told him more than once. As we talked about in the last episode.

[00:12:31] That took quite a bit of faith to bind Isaac, put in the alter and.

[00:12:38] It’s very significant that Abraham trusted God long before the giving of the law in Mount Sinai. Abraham’s faith was counted for righteousness, that he was saved just like we’re saved, before the law even existed, even before Jesus died on the cross. And you may have heard this [00:13:00] before, but this was a picture of God the father sending his son Jesus to die in our place.

[00:13:08] This was a picture because we think what kind of father would sacrifice his son, innocent son? Well, God the father gave his son to die the cross. He was innocent. He was sinless and God’s son died on the cross for us. He took our place. So when Jesus was on the cross and God was looking at him from heaven,

[00:13:41] I am sure that it grieved God the Father, to see his son dying on the cross. Our sin. Put on Jesus cuz that’s what God the father saw. He saw our sin, he was taking the place [00:14:00] of us.

[00:14:02] But faith is extremely important in the Old Testament because that is how you were saved. You did not have faith then you were not going to be saved. Without faith it is impossible to please God. That is very important verse.

[00:14:18] I mean, the way that I see it, I as a human being, why did he have to choose this boy? Why did he have to choose Abraham to

[00:14:28] sacrifice his son? God was testing Abraham.

[00:14:34] Who is your God? Is it the pagan gods? Am I the one and only God in your life? Are you committed to me? Because I’m going to give you a nation, you’re gonna multiply you more than the sands of the sea.

[00:14:49] Do you have the fear of God? We don’t like that word, do we? Fear of God, but it just basically means respect. Respect [00:15:00] and honor for the God of the universe. Who has the power, who has the power. To create, to give life, to take life away as it is his right to do so. We want to think of God as this milk toast, grandfatherly buddy type God.

[00:15:18] Uh, he is very loving, but he is no pushover. He does not tolerate sin. We’ve talked about that before.

[00:15:27] God requires obedience. God requires faith.

[00:15:30] So let’s think of it from Abraham’s side again.

[00:15:35] So reading in my, commentary Paul Copan,

[00:15:41] most commentaries state that Abraham believed in God so much that Isaac was going to be the promise of God for this great nation, that he did not hesitate in taking a knife into his hand and raising up the [00:16:00] knife to kill him. Why is that? Was he a terrible father? On the surface, it seems that way, but

[00:16:08] abraham actually believed that if he killed his son, Isaac, that God would raise him from the dead. And is also a picture of Jesus. Rising from the dead after the cross. So many commentators believe that because it says here in Hebrews, we call the faith Chapter 11.

[00:16:34] In Hebrews 11, 17 and 19, Abraham had received the promises. He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead. Abraham was confident of this and commended for it in the faith chapter.

[00:16:52] Abraham knew that God’s faithful character meant that God wouldn’t break his promises. Not only is it [00:17:00] impossible for God to lie in Hebrews six 18.

[00:17:05] Abraham believed that not even death can nullify the promises that God has made.

[00:17:11] And another commentator. This is kind of interesting because I’ve never really heard this before, yes, God is testing Abraham, but God doesn’t intend for Isaac to be sacrificed. Abraham isn’t aware of what the reader already knows, that this is only a test.

[00:17:30] Some scholars translate, please take your son, translates it. Take I beg of you, your only son. God is being gentle. He as he is given a difficult order. This is a plea. this is in tenderness. God understands what he’s asking. And some commentators even believe that God is not demanding [00:18:00] here,

[00:18:00] that it was optional. If Abraham didn’t have the faith to do it, he would not have been, in big trouble. I’m not sure I agree with that, but.

[00:18:10] So some people believe that.

[00:18:12] Obviously we see, uh, taking human life is morally wrong, innocent people.

[00:18:21] Of course in, in this context, in the Old Testament,

[00:18:25] people come back to life.

[00:18:27] There is a supernatural being who brings people back from the dead. Now, We live in a world today where people don’t come back from the dead.

[00:18:38] So obviously,

[00:18:40] just because we have this story doesn’t mean that we go and sacrifice our sons on some altar in the backyard. That is not what this is about. This was particularly aimed at Abraham in a specific time in history. This is not something [00:19:00] that God wants us to repeat.

[00:19:03] So we see here, God wanting us to know that, that God suffers along with us. He enters into our suffering as in the case of his son Jesus.

[00:19:17] And Jesus died a humiliating and shameful cross.

[00:19:22] In fact, a God who doesn’t suffer would make God a demon, according to Malman. Jergen Maltman is the author of the book, the Crucified God.

[00:19:38] And then Ellie Weisel wrote his book Night, and I’m gonna read this example in his book about Nazi concentration camps. They were talking about the SS hanging two Jewish men in front of the whole camp and somebody in the back stating, where is [00:20:00] God now?

[00:20:01] And a voice inside myself answers. Where is he? He is here. He is hanging there on the gallows.

[00:20:10] God suffers with us and enters into our suffering. So Isaac foreshadows God’s the Father, offering the sacrifice of Jesus.

[00:20:22] And Jesus was not forced to die on the cross. Jesus willingly gives his life to die on the cross. He was not forced to die on the cross.

[00:20:34] The son came into the world himself to save it.

[00:20:39] We don’t have a passive victim here. Jesus death was the predetermined plan.

[00:20:49] So I read,

[00:20:51] more than one school of thought.

[00:20:53] So hopefully that that gives you food for thought.

[00:20:57] The next chapter is Sarah’s [00:21:00] Death and Burial, which I’m not going to read.

[00:21:03] But kind of wonder what, what Sarah thought about this when they got back this story that Abraham and Isaac told.

[00:21:11] But you have to hand it to Isaac. The great faith that he had, the submission to his father, even though he was probably very scared and didn’t know what was going on.

[00:21:23] So what are the takeaways from this lesson, do you think? As we’ve already stated, we have to have faith to please God. Things are not always what they seem. God’s ways are not our ways. We can’t always see the bigger picture. Sometimes we have to obey the Lord

[00:21:42] with faith, whether we understand, and it might not be something as graphic as. Sacrificing your kid. It might be something else that moving away, far away may be breaking up with somebody or [00:22:00] dating. It may be,

[00:22:01] uh, leaving that job that isn’t God honoring. It might be a number of things that require faith in the Lord.

[00:22:11] And I don’t want this to discourage you from reading scripture. The good news is Isaac’s he has descendants greater than the sands of the sea. There was a happy ending in this story.

[00:22:25] That’s a, crazy story to tell your kids

[00:22:28] His sons. Jacob and Esau,

[00:22:31] they have some crazy stories. The 12 tribes of Israel we already introduced to and their descendants with all their flaws.

[00:22:40] All their flaws and um, sometimes ungodly things that they do, we are forgiven just like they are. We are given grace through faith in Jesus. They were given grace through faith in the coming of the Messiah. They looked forward [00:23:00] to the cross, to the Messiah, and we look behind to the Messiah, to the cross.

[00:23:09] So I’m hoping that you learned some things today.

[00:23:12] I’m hoping that you are still gonna be brave and get into God’s word

[00:23:19] and learn some truth. Learn some lessons. Find out who the God of the Bible really is. Yes, he is holy. But yes, he is also loving. And it’s hard for us to understand everything, especially in our culture, which is very, very different than the one in the Bible. But some truths are eternal that we can take with us.

[00:23:44] So I am going to study and figure out what next week’s, lesson will be. Haven’t thought of what I wanna do next, but I have plenty of time to research and find something good. Something, [00:24:00] really interesting. Hopefully at my post-op appointment and able to drive the end of the two weeks and on my way to physical therapy. We’ll see how it goes and thanks for your prayers for that.

[00:24:14] And, For Brian as he is taking care of me couple weeks. So until next week, thanks for being here. God bless you. Take care. Bye for now.

[00:24:25] Thank you for listening to the Wounds of the Faithful Podcast. If this episode has been helpful to you, please hit the subscribe button and tell a friend. You could connect with us at DSW Ministries dot org where you’ll find our blog, along with our Facebook, Twitter, and our YouTube channel links. Hope to see you next week.