You know how some moments in time are hard-wired into your memory. One of these for me was walking from the car park into Christies Cancer hospital, in Manchester. My 18 year-old son was facing yet another cycle of treatment. Our conversation was to the effect that we both wished it was him taking me for treatment, and not this way round. How I longed to be able to take all this suffering, and spare him. Thankful, that was 11 years ago, and he is quite healthy now.
But the passage of Genesis 22 v 15 – 19 reminded me of that conversation. God is honouring Abraham because he did not withhold his only son, and was willing to offer him up for sacrifice. God knew that it would have been easier for Abraham to offer himself up, than to offer his son.
For me, that puts a another slant on the crucifixion of Jesus. I have heard people say that they cannot understand how a God of love could let his son be killed. But as I see it, it must have been harder for the God the Father to know that that was the only solution, and to make that choice to allow his son to go that path. The Father’s sacrifice was in some ways harder than the Son’s. It’s all just mind-blowing. With our human brains we can’t come close to understanding what God went through.
All we can do is appreciate the love for us, that prompted the choice to go through with it, and then to live our lives in such a way that honours it.
God was so overjoyed with Abraham’s obedience and trust, he renewed his promise to him, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and that through them all nations of the earth would be blessed. He also added another point – that his ‘descendants would take possession of the cities of their enemies’. Obedience and sacrifice are powerful tools. God can give victory to people who trust him with everything they have. God understood how much this act of obedience had cost Abraham. Any act of obedience and sacrifice we make is recognized by God, and he will reward it.