Reflecting on Genesis 22:1-2,9ª, 10-13, 15-18
Okay, let’s take that Genesis reading and stare it down. It’s awful. And it’s not about what we thought at all. Whew.
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. If any person attempted to “sacrifice” their son because God demanded it, we would quickly remove the child and get the parent psychiatric help. This is precisely what God is doing in the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. The entire story is meant for the ears of the neighbors, those terrifying Canaanites who killed their firstborn sons in huge numbers in order to prove to the gods of rain and harvest that they were seriously devoted to them.
See how the Canaanites behave? It shall never be this way with you, says the God of Abraham. It’s God’s way of removing the children from the scary parents.
When Abraham allowed Sarah to cast Hagar out into the wilderness (along with his firstborn son Ishmael, a thirteen-year-old) he did so because God assured him they would survive. Years later it was Isaac’s turn to be endangered, as he himself had become thirteen (the threshold of adulthood). The same God who proved trustworthy earlier was demanding Abraham sacrifice his second son as a sign of devotion to him. Would the God who was faithful then be faithful now?
This isn’t about a sociopathic god requiring the blood of children. It’s about life’s most important question: can God be trusted in our lives and in our deaths?
We’ve all stood at the grave. Like Ishmael and Isaac, we’ve stood at the threshold of death. Can God be trusted to bring life from death? That’s the big question in this Lent’s gospels. Take heart, and wait.
Can God be trusted with your life?
Kathy McGovern ©2018