When God Tells Abraham To Kill Isaac…

1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” […] 9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” – Genesis 22, English Standard Version

I don’t understand how a father could begin to go along with this. How the heck do you rationalise it? Setting aside for a moment the question of whether or not I personally believe in God – assume that God does exist, as Abraham is obviously pretty well convinced that he does.

Before God speaks to Abraham here, Abraham must believe either that his God is a good deity, or an evil deity. If he believes that God is evil, why does he want to obey him? If he believes that God is good, why does he believe this instruction comes from God at all? If he previously believed that God was good, and then received this instruction in such a way that it could not possibly have come from anyone other than the deity he believes in, why does he not at this point realise that this deity must actually be evil?

If God is good, he would not demand the sacrifice of a child. If God demands such a sacrifce, then he cannot be good.

I’ve read the argument that since God stops Abraham from killing Isaac, this proves that God isn’t actually evil – he never really wanted Isaac as a sacrifice, he just wanted Abraham to prove his faith.

But Abraham doesn’t know this! When Abraham takes up the knife he truly intends to slaughter Isaac. He truly believes this is what God wants… and he goes along with it. You can say that this demonstrates his faith in God, but I don’t understand why it is considered a good thing to place blind faith in a deity who has just told you to murder an innocent child. Anyone or anything who tells you to do evil is not to be trusted, and certainly not to be worshipped!

If God is truly good, then why does Abraham’s willingness to commit murder in his name please him? Why does he say that Abraham has passed the test, and will be rewarded? If God is good then he should value morality in humans, and he should have explained to Abraham that he just failed the test.

2 thoughts on “When God Tells Abraham To Kill Isaac…

  1. God wanted to test Abraham’s faith in Him, that he knew God knew what He was doing. Abraham needed to trust in God to know that He would protect Abraham and Issac.

  2. The whole event was a prophetic allegory of the Father sacrificing HIS own son out of love. There are numerous metaphors such as the son carrying the wood up the hill, and asking “Where is the lamb?” when God’s son WAS the Passover lamb.

    And it DOES defy human logic as you say, concluding that God must be evil to even ask such a thing. But you have to know the history of Abraham up to this point. He had seen God do several amazing miracles. This wasn’t even hard for Abraham. First of all, he and Sarah were barren until they were about 100 years old (totally unheard of!), finally having Isaac, the miracle child that was promised to him long, long before.

    He was visited by God Himself, in the form of three messengers, one year prior to having Isaac and God announced that Sarah would be with child the following year. Before all this, the test of circumcision—and THAT was a hard one. Abraham had to circumcise every man and boy in his village!

    Prior to all of this, Abraham and the 300-something men of his household defeated the armies of 5 kings that had just defeated 4 other kings in a major war in the valley of Sodom and Gomorrah, in order to rescue Lot, his nephew, that had been taken prisoner.

    I won’t even get into the miracles he saw with the Pharaoh of Egypt, and Abimelek, the king of the Arameans (I think).

    These are just a few of the many interactions Abraham had with YHVH, God, and Abraham was getting to know Him well. Abraham said to the men he left at the bottom of the mountain that he and the boy (probably about 18, by the way) would be BACK. This indicates that Abraham was probably thinking that something like a resurrection would occur after the sacrifice.

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