Monday, October 6, 2008

THE BiNDiNG OF ISAAC

Genesis 22 is one of the most glorious texts in all of Scripture. I was reading some Jewish liberal commentaries on it the other day and even they have to bow the knee to its beauty. Here are some things to note.
  • 22.1 - This is God testing Abe. Abe couldn't have a kid, but God promised him one. Then God gives him one and tells him to go kill it. That is testing. We think testing is a few bucks short on one month's mortgage.
  • 22.5 - Abe told his servants that both he and Isaac would worship and then return. This is either faithful boldness or ignorance. The NT prefers the former.
  • 22.6-7 - Isaac carried his wood up the mountain to the place where he was to be sacrificed by his father. That sounds strangely familiar? 
  • 22.8 - I love this. It says that YHWH will provide a lamb for Himself. Yes, Abe is being tested. But this is about God's plan and His covenant that will be carried out for His sake [cf. Ps 23, Ezk 36, Is 43.7, etc].


We went over this as I taught my 10th grade Redemptive History class the other day. When we finished, I had the kids write a poem from the point of view of either Abe or Isaac. Some were, of course, 10th grade-ish and done just to be done. Other students put forth great effort. One young lady was quite frustrated and scratched out huge sections of her paper several times. Everyone near her could tell she was flustered. When she handed it in, she even told me that it was dumb and she wasn't satisfied. It was actually really good. One line she wrote perfectly captures the breadth of emotions that were likely rushing through Abraham:

"With hand out-stretched in praise and fear..."

Isn't that beautiful?! The question is: Why do we never find ourselves in places where that spectrum of emotions is on display? Is it because of our lack of faith? Is it because God doesn't do crazy stuff like that anymore [at least that's what we'll say to pat our weak faith on the back]? Those feelings - praise and fear - both say something about God, something great about God. If our faith is merely conditioned to our good or bad circumstances, then the world will only see a circumstantially-conditioned God and King [which is no God or King at all, but only a good idea].

So, maybe we should pray to find ourselves in places like Abe did. I don't know. But I do know that the God of the Bible will provide for Himself and that He alone is worthy of both praise and fear - and both at the same time.

2 comments:

Sara said...

sooo beautiful.

andrew.lewis said...

"With hand out-stretched in praise and fear..."

What a beautiful line. Thank you for sharing.

It isn't often that I can say this, but I actually resonate with that quite a bit right now. Having huge decisions about my future looming just on the horizon is inspiring a lot of praise and fear right about now...