Day 6: Genesis 21-23

Genesis 22: Isaac

As promised, God gave Abraham a son by Sarah when Abraham was 100 years old. The son was named Isaac, and he was circumcised at 8 days of age.

Remember that son Abraham had with Hagar, the maidservant? He’s still in the picture, but Sarah doesn’t like that. Sarah sends Hagar and her son away into the desert. They ran out of water and Hagar feared for her son’s life, but God showed up with water and all was well.

The camera pans back to Abraham.

God tells Abraham to take Isaac—who is referred to as Abraham’s only son as if Hagar’s son somehow isn’t Abraham’s—into the woods to sacrifice him. Yup, sacrifice. Abraham prepared the alter and the wood for the burnt offering…of his son.

Isaac questions where the sacrifice is, and Abraham dodges the question as he ties up Isaac to kill and burn for the Lord. Abraham doesn’t question God’s instructions. Not even once. He doesn’t even show emotion.

As Abraham is about to slay Isaac, the angel of the Lord tells him to stop.

It was a test.

And Abraham passed.

God provided a ram to sacrifice instead of Isaac.

Phew! That was close.

And it seems like Abraham and Isaac never mentioned the incident again.

Most cringeworthy grammar instance of this chapter? In one line, Abraham says, “…while I and the boy…” which made my skin crawl.

Fun fact: this chapter was actually called “Birth and Near Sacrifice of Isaac,” but I felt like that gave too much away.

Genesis 23: The Death of Sarah

Again, the title is just giving it away.

Sarah died. She was 127 years old, so she lived a long life (though nothing compared to the 900 years of Noah).

Abraham was in yet another strange land when Sarah died, but his reputation preceded him, and the residents gave Abraham land on which to bury Sarah. She was buried in a cave in Abraham’s newly acquired land.

 


 

This was a pretty uneventful reading. Besides the close call on sacrificing Isaac, I guess.

I remember the story of Abraham and Isaac from childhood. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like a great story to tell children. But it didn’t phase me then.

My recollections of the story involve much more questioning by Abraham. I’m not sure if the story was told to me that way, or if my child brain added questioning.

Abraham was 100% ready to blindly follow God’s orders to kill his one and only son (with Sarah). On the one hand, I understand how that shows true devotion to the almighty God. On the other hand, though, blindly following someone (even a deity) frightens me. Perhaps that’s one of the factors that led me to withdraw from religion.

I’m naturally curious, and therefore questioning. I want to know why. I want to know how. I want to know what if. I don’t think I’m capable of the blind faith required to follow someone or something with the kind of dedication Abraham shows.

I understand that this type of questioning is what makes faith, faith. Faith is all about believing when there’s reason to question. But for some reason, I just don’t have it. I’ve seen people with true faith. I feel like I understand it on some level. But it’s just not a way I feel capable of living.

As always, I want to know what you think. Does Abraham’s story resonate with you? (In terms of faith, not in terms of sacrifice your child…I hope.) Comment below or, since this is a touchy topic, shoot me a private message.

 


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About Megan Horn

I'm spending portions of the next 365 days reading the Bible. And document my thoughts as I work through the Holy Book.

6 thoughts on “Day 6: Genesis 21-23

  1. Megan said:
    “On the one hand, I understand how that shows true devotion to the almighty God. On the other hand, though, blindly following someone (even a deity) frightens me. Perhaps that’s one of the factors that led me to withdraw from religion.
    I’m naturally curious, and therefore questioning. I want to know why. I want to know how. I want to know what if. I don’t think I’m capable of the blind faith required to follow someone or something with the kind of dedication Abraham shows.”

    Welcome to humanity.

    There is a verse that you will be coming upon in the not so near future if you continue on this project, that covers this problem quite succinctly (no spoilers as to the book/chapter/verse):

    “…Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

    These six words encompass the joys, as well as the immense difficulty mankind, has in truly exhibiting the faith that is asked of us by God.

  2. I love that you are reading thru the Bible just to do it…

    I have been reading and continue to read the Bible as I believe this book is alive and active and an incredible help to Gods people.

    With that said, it wasn’t that Abraham was going to kill his son, Abraham knew God personally/ intimately, and therefore knew that Gods promise was true. He knew that even if he went through with killing him, that he would raise him from the dead because he was the child of promise…. look at what he said to his servant,
    Genesis 22:5 NIV
    [5] He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. WE will worship and then WE will come back to you. ”
    He knew they both would come back down the mountain.
    The closer you stay to God the more you hear him and the more you recognize his truth. The more you trust him, this leads to more faith.

    Mw

    1. Thanks, Mike! Someone else I was talking to said a very similar sentiment…that Abraham knew it was a test.

      That just didn’t come through to me on a first read, which is why I’m happy to have other people along this journey with me to help me understand these things.

  3. “Does Abraham’s story resonate with you?”

    Not only is this a test of faith for Abraham, but also Gods mercy and love for us as well as an example of substitutionary atonement.

    According to scriptures, sin is defined as breaking Gods laws, as well as our rebellion of God. As a result, there is a penalty for this sin, just as we would have if we broke one of our own laws. But the difficulty is, we can never pay that price. As sinners, we have no ability to repay the required cost to God’s holy and just nature. Sin is a clear affront that He cannot ignore.
    However, God gives them a temporary means of paying for sin – blood sacrifice of an innocent who has no sin – a lamb, or dove, or other clean animals such as a ram.

    Notice here that just as Abraham is about to pay the ultimate cost to him as a result of obeying God, God at the last moment offers a substitute – a ram, to pay atonement for his sins. God doesn’t have to do this but shows Abraham mercy and reward for his faith and obedience.

    “And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering *instead of his son*.

    This, in essence, is the idea of substitutionary atonement is introduced, of which Christ would later fulfill with His sacrifice on the cross.

  4. “Most cringeworthy grammar instance of this chapter? In one line, Abraham says, “…while I and the boy…” which made my skin crawl.”

    I to. Should be “While me and boy”.

    Pfft, amateurs.

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