So let me get this right: chapter 21 starts off with "Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah...Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham..." And then in chapter 22 God tells Abraham to take Isaac, his only son, and kill him - sacrifice him as a burnt offering for God.
As a dad...I have a few choice words. I have to be honest: people tell me I've got great faith, but if I'm Abraham, I think this is where my faith runs out...
Just off the top of my head I don't think there's another story in the entire Bible, outside of the Gospels themselves, that does a better job illustrating what happens on the cross than this one. A good Study Bible will tell you that the region of Moriah where God told Abraham to go, is believed to be the region where Jerusalem now sits (place names change over time so there's no 100% way to know for sure). Jewish and Muslim tradition both hold to that. In fact, inside the Dome of the Rock, built on the former site of the Temple, there's a rock feature that is believed to be the rock upon which Abraham was about to kill Isaac on. This is a mere stones through away from the location of Jesus' own crucifixion.
Clearly the story turns out fine in the end, with Isaac being saved and a ram being offered as worship instead, but the whole concept of a god who asked so much of Abraham, gives him the one thing he's always wanted, and then demands that a father sacrifice his own son?! I'm speechless...
It can sometimes be hard to fully grasp the significance of what God went through at the crucifixion. Our trinitarian theology says that the Father and the Son are one, which really just makes the whole thing really complicated. But on the cross, the Father sacrificed his son - his only son (just like Abraham and Isaac) - in order to appease God (seriously, I get the language here is really weird).
Over the past year, I've been really struggling with issues and questions of personal motivation for the work and ministry that I do. I need my motives to be right; I need to be driven by a longing and desire to bring glory to God and to proclaim the good news. In order to do that, I need to be excited about the gospel, too. And unfortunately, I found myself caught in a place where the cross and the empty tomb had become old news.
God sacrificed his own son! Would I sacrifice mine for God? I confess...I can't. But God did it for me. For you. Just in typing this up I feel myself overcome by chills, by holy and reverent fear and awe. How could I possibly deny and fail to worship and give honor and glory to a God who loves me so much he was willing to sacrifice the Son of God for my sake?!