The story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac creates a moral dilemma for those who believe the Bible.
How could Abraham simply accept God’s command to simply take Isaac and offer him for sacrifice?
Surely Abraham knew better. Could he not see that such a command to take human life was wrong?
The following article is by our guest writer, Ralph Haulk.
Abraham did know better, and he had a strong sense of life and justice, as we see in Genesis 18:23.
When Abraham learned God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he questioned God:
“Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?…shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Would God destroy the good with the evil?
Abraham had asked the same question as many do today: “how can I serve a God who has no concern for the goodness of human life?”
Then began a negotiation between Abraham and God. Would God destroy Sodom if there were fifty righteous people there? How about forty five? Forty? Thirty? Twenty? Ten?
God had said He would not destroy Sodom if there were only ten righteous men.
Yet Abraham, when told to sacrifice Isaac, never questioned God about the destruction of an innocent life. No negotiating, no intervention. All we see is, “Abraham rose up early in the morning…”.
Abraham then told Isaac, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…”.
Why this shift in attitude? Who really stood to lose if God destroyed Isaac through Abraham? If Abraham obeyed and God did not act to save Isaac, then God would appear to be a liar and not worthy of worship. He would have destroyed the very foundation of the gospel itself.
We know that Abraham understood the moral implication. Abraham had God’s word at Sodom that God would not destroy righteous people to punish sinners. Isaac was no sinner. He was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.
What God did was exactly what God had to do. He stopped Abraham and provided a ram for sacrifice.
But what if Abraham had said “No! I will not destroy an innocent human life!”
That would certainly be a moral choice.
The simple fact is, in either case, God could STILL use Abraham as father of the faithful! Abraham’s choice would not really have mattered, because the only real loser would have been God!
Whose son was Isaac?
God had told Abraham that Sarah would have a son. But Sarah couldn’t have children. Abraham was capable, because he had fathered Ishmael by Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. We see in Genesis 21:1-2: “And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said,and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken, for Sarah conceived,and bore Abraham a son…”.
I would suggest that Isaac was born of the “spirit of promise”. Because of that, he was God’s son. Abraham was merely an adoptive father, who simply trusted God to do the right thing. Abraham had already asked God, “shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”
The spirit of promise, the”Holy Spirit”, were one and the same. Isaac was born of it, and the elect are born of it, as Isaac was (Galatians 3:29, 4:28).
God would literally select certain individuals to be born as Isaac was; foreknown, predestined, and called (Romans 8:29-30).
Paul had clearly stated this in Romans 9:8: “That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the CHILDREN OF THE PROMISE are counted for the seed.
Isaac was the first of a kind, not born of law at Sinai, but of a spirit, of God’s word between God and Abraham, who would become the adoptive father of these special children, born as Isaac, of the same promise.
Paul uses Romans 9 to explain that this is how God operates. We cannot alter this plan. It is completely dependent on God selecting certain individuals to establish a kingdom. It is they, these special children, who are born of the Spirit of promise, the promise God made to Abraham. Not born”again”, but born from above, of God. These literal children of God will establish a kingdom of God for the benefit of the world.
That is what Abraham understood, and why he never protested against God.