Why did God ask Abraham
to sacrifice Issac?
Q. Why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice Issac?
A. When questioning the motives of God, the Creator, one must always keep in mind that God is not a human being. Attributing human characteristics to God (or anything other than a human) is called, "anthropomorphizing". When we anthropomorphize God, we commit a grave error of logic. Furthermore, it is an act of folly and a lack of wisdom should we decide that we (God's creation) can "judge" God.
God's love and mercy are by His very nature very different from human "love and mercy" because of the vast differences in potential and power. Since God has the power of resurrection, human death is a vastly different situation for Him than for a human being. A human who takes the life of another, or causes another to lose his life, cannot undo that grievous act but it is as nothing to God to accomplish this act. We live and move and have our being within God. We are His to do with as He wishes.
"Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, `Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" (Romans 9:18-21, NIV)
For a human being to make the decision as to whether another lives or dies is an act usurping the power of God and that is why it is such a terrible sin, condemned by all cultures and moral standards other than under special circumstances, i.e., an act of war, or self-preservation or protecting another human being from harm.
In the episode about which you inquire (Genesis 22:1-18) God told Abraham why He tested him by this act:
"Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But 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 . . ."
"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 22:10-12, 15-18, NIV)
Though God knows "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10), He always allows human beings to make their own choices.
Though God knew what Abraham would likely choose, He still allowed Abraham to make the choice of whether to obey God and offer his son as a sacrifice or to disobey God, showing that he loved his son more than God.
Later on God had to make the same choice as Abraham -- to allow His only son to die so that our sins could be forgiven, or to turn His back on humanity. We praise our heavenly Father for the choice He made.
Abraham did not anthropomorphize God but had faith that whatever happened God would make things right. Abraham knew that God has the life of each of us (including his son) in His hands to do with as He wishes – he also knew that God could bring Isaac back from the dead if He chose to do so.
All of the great blessings that have befallen the descendents of Abraham, including those resulting from the sacrifice of Abraham's many times removed grandson, Jesus, were based upon this demonstration of faith by Abraham.
We can today be proud of our ancestor Abraham who, by obeying God rather than attributing human motives to Him, procured all of these great blessings for Abraham's descendents and, indeed, for the whole world.
Thank you for submitting your question about why God asked Abraham to sacrifice Issac.
Written by: Clay Willis
The Sacrifice of Abraham
Oil on poplar panel by Andrea Del Sarto
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