Thousands of years ago a man was told to kill his son.
And this matters to you and me.
The man was Abraham and it was God – our God, the same one – who told him to kill his son. That’s why it matters.
The son was Isaac, and most of us know the story. We know that Isaac was a miracle child. God had promised him to Abraham and Sarah and then waited over twenty years – twenty years! – to deliver on the promise.
And Sarah was already old when the twenty years started.
By the time Isaac was born she was long past fertile. She was long done. As the bible so succinctly puts it, “her womb was dead.”
But that’s no problem for God. In another bible story, He started with a walking stick: Aaron’s staff. It was long gone from the tree yet God grew buds, then flowers, then almonds from that dead stick.
In the same way He grew Isaac from Sarah’s dead womb.
And there was more. Isaac was not only promised, but he was a promise. God had promised Abraham that through Isaac, Abraham would be given a multitude of descendants.
The story almost loses me here because I don’t get what is so great about a multitude of descendants.
But I think it’s a bit like if God said to us, “Your life matters. It is so important to what I am doing in the world that generations upon generations of people will know you and know that through you they are blessed.”
Anyway, that’s what Isaac meant to Abraham and – so Abraham thought – to God.
Then God told him to kill Isaac.
Can you imagine?
Honestly, it would seem as though God had come unhinged.
“This Isaac? God, you want me to kill this Isaac? The one you grew from death? The one you promised so much about?”
And, in a smaller voice, “The one I love so much?”
But Abraham does it.
He does it!
Faith? In God? The God who has completely reneged on everything He said? The God who has become so strangely, unrecognizably, horrible?
But you see that’s what faith is.
It’s not just believing that God exists. It’s believing that He’s good.
I’m going to say that again: faith doesn’t just believe that God exists. It believes that He’s good.
Sometimes, He really doesn’t seem so. It’s almost as though He tries to be difficult.
I think He does.
It’s like muscle-building for our faith.
So, when God seems not good to us, even … horrible, then let’s turn our faces toward Him and walk. Let’s obey though it cost our dearest treasure. Let’s believe, against all the evidence and against all reason, that He is good.
Let’s muscle up our faith.
Oh, did I forget to mention?
In the end, God didn’t let Abraham kill Isaac.
He’s not actually like that.