Day 11 – The One and Only Son

Yesterday I read an article about Tim Tebow and the fact that Google hits for John 3:16 are spiking since Tebow wore the words on his eye paint (forgive me football fans if I speak not footballese).

The article also mentioned that Tebow passed 316 yards against the Steelers (I ask once more: concidence? or providence? LOL). The article also quoted the verse in question:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

[An aside: I just read a great article on God and Tebow here]

So what does that have to do with Genesis, you ask?

Well, today I read the following in Genesis 22:2:

Then God said [to Abraham, about his long-awaited son], “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (all quotes NIV)

I know God said that Abraham was faithful when he trusted God for a son 25 years back. But then there were a those faith trip-ups: the Ishmael and Sarah situations… I wonder how Abraham’s faith grew enough for him to obey the command to sacrifice his only son?

Maybe it was because the son was actually born, “at the very time God had promised him.” (Genesis 21:2). When Abraham was 100 years old.

In any case, Abraham obeyed. And just as the knife was ready to cut (Genesis 22: 11-12):

… the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

And what was the result of Abraham’s obedience, coupled with God’s grace?

The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring  all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:15-17

Two one and only sons.

Two promised descendants of Abraham.

Two fathers willing to sacrifice their one and only sons. (Note that Abraham responded “Here I AM” to the angel)

Two sons willing to obey their fathers to the death.

Two offerings that atone for sin.

Two sons through whom all peoples are blessed.

The incidents: two thousand years apart.

Coincidence?

It think not.

As I type this up, I am somehow moved to tears by how God orchestrated all of this.

That’s all.

Today’s readings: Genesis 21:1-22:24, Psalm 6:6-10, Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 8:18-34

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9 thoughts on “Day 11 – The One and Only Son

  1. I think only God can justify his actions in these stories I find problematic… I do find more comfort in other believers’ empathy than in their answers, so far.

    And it’s interesting, isn’t it, how often pastoral concerns are hidden in intellectual ones.

  2. I suppose…

    I guess I just want other people to care about the underdogs… I have found myself identifying with people like Cain and Isaac and the unelect and it’s problematic.

    It’s akin to having the English class read Grendel as well as Beowulf, or other exercises in perspective taking / point of view.

  3. Well, if Isaac was old enough to fight back, he likely would have – one reason for Abraham to keep quiet. Abe may have also hoped that he’d never have to follow through. I think it’s also significant that they were living in another time, a day and age pre-Cross, where there was so much violence going on that this particular act might not have even approximated what it would in our society in terms of shock and trauma. I mean, Abraham let Sarah be married off to the King of Egypt. And Lot’s girls slept with him. And the guys from town came to rape and kill Lot’s guests. It was a brutal time. They saw child sacrifice around them, too. People were more prepared for things like this – it was part of life. And parents weren’t likely as “enlightened” as they are today. They were trying to survive, not as worried about their kid’s mental health, I suspect. And if Isaac was traumatized, so was Jesus (Gethsemane) – another way he was a “type” of Jesus. I really can’t imagine how they lived. But, then, I can’t imagine how people live in the third world where people barely survive, where hundreds of thousands were simply wiped a way in a tsunami a few years back.

  4. I would be tempted, too… and yet, thus far, I have found it better to give some advance warning, as age-appropriate and truthful as possible… and regardless, seriously, how traumatic would it be to be Isaac’s age (old enough to know what a sacrifice is, and to talk about it) and to suddenly be tied up and put on an altar and see your dad wielding the knife? It seems he was certainly old enough to understand that he was about to be killed by his father. And without benefit of knowing what God had commanded in this situation, and without more understanding of Abraham’s hope than the ambiguous “God will provide the lamb” answer given earlier.

  5. I have really wondered about Isaac in this story lately. He was old enough to ask about the animal for the offering… and obviously had no idea what was about to happen. In what sense was he willing to obey unto death? In what sense was he dreadfully traumatized without any comfort or explanation?

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