Genesis 21:1-3; 22:1-14A coloring page - Really???
Let me put my cards on the table - I've been preaching weekly for 8 years and I've never preached this text. Another card I've got is - I've been pastoring for 20 years and I have had dozens of conversations about this text with folks. This text is absurd at best; it's disturbing and unconscionable at worst. What kind of God tests someone by asking for a human father to sacrifice his only son? What kind of horrific father was Abraham anyway? And Isaac? What became of him after this psychologically damaging event in his life? And don't get me started about Sarah. Where was she?
We're still reading, interpreting and commenting on this text as if the literal story must teach us a moral lesson. We're still reading, interpreting and commenting on this text as if the presenting story teaches us something about God, about humans, about family values.
The only sermons I've ever heard about this text leave us with the obvious Christian theological lesson - Abraham sacrificing Isaac is a foretelling of God sacrificing Jesus. I can't preach it this way for two reasons. First, I typically honor the Hebrew scriptures by keeping them true to themselves without inserting the Christian scriptures and their meaning. Second, I have a problem with violent atonement. The idea that God would require a human sacrifice is - foul.
When Abraham had the thought that God wanted him to sacrifice his son, why didn't he recognize it as foul? And when Sarah heard about it, why didn't she tell someone that her husband had gone mad. And then why didn't she pack her and Isaac's bags and run away? When Isaac realized his dad was going to do him harm, why didn't he overpower his father and since he didn't, can we assume that he'd been abused by his father for so long that he had lost his voice?
If you're still reading - you may be quite irritated by my lack of respect to the patriarch. I'm asking these questions because I find them to be lacking in the discussion. Instead of shaking our head in disgust and picking at the text in the critical manner we usually do, we approach the text with our preconceived notions. We have already decided that God is good and it taints our ability to see this text for what it is. Abraham is our patriarch; he too must have been a faithful person (after all Hebrews 11 says so). As a result, we overlook reasonable perspectives of this hideous story. We have already accepted that women and children have no say and so we perpetuate the hidden, abused, ignored, discarded voices in the scriptures.
When you read this story, whose voice are you listening to?
Search this blog for a specific text or story:
I am grateful for