What is the Moral Justification of God's Asking Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by StefanM, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. StefanM

    StefanM
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    As in Genesis 22:

    22 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

    2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

    Can someone help me with this? I'm really struggling to come up with a solid explanation, but it seems at face value that God is asking Abraham to do something wrong (human sacrifice), even if he provides a way out of it later.

    Also, what might have happened if Abraham had replied, "Lord, do you not ask us to sacrifice only animals?"

    I'm sure there's a good explanation out there. I'd love to hear it!
     
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  2. TCassidy

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    God knew what Abraham would do. He wanted Abraham to know how strong his faith was. Up to this point Abraham had failed God on several occasions. Now God instructed him to do something that not only violated his conscience, but seemed to violates God's own instructions, previously given. But Abraham "believed God." And the rest his history.

    God sometimes puts us in very difficult places (He sent an evil spirit to Saul) to test and try us. But He always provides a way of escape.
     
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  3. Deacon

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    “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?" Job 40:1 NIV

    This was a time prior to the Law of Moses
    Among the surrounding cultures it was a common, acceptable form of devotion
    The Lord, who knows the beginning from the end, knew the outcome

    Rob
     
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  4. Van

    Van
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    No scripture says God knows the beginning from the end, but it does say God declares the end from the beginning. :)

    You can find lots of atheist arguments trying to hold God to the same standards God established for us. The answer ultimately is found in Romans 9. As creator, God can give life or allow life to continue, or OTOH take life or put life in jeopardy. God created the environment that has famine, flood, earthquake, lightning, tsunami, and tornado.

    Lets look at this from our personal perspective. Would we serve God, if it meant putting our life or the lives of our loved ones, at risk? Is it easier to find fault with God, rather than face our own faults? Food for thought.
     
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  5. Baptist Believer

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    That sounds great, but that's not what the text says:

    Genesis 22:11-12
    But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

    Yes. God puts us into situations where our faith MUST grow. Sometimes those situations seem to go against everything we think we know. Our job is to be obedient even when we can't see the next step.
     
  6. TCassidy

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    The Lord knew. The Angel learned. Ephesians 3:10-11. "the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms."

    “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:10-12).
     
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  7. StefanM

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    I hadn't thought about differentiating God's knowledge from the Angel's knowledge. Thank you for this insight!
     
  8. Van

    Van
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    Many commentators believe the Angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity. And a duality is seen where the Messenger of Yahweh appears to be both God and angel. Exodus 3:1-7
     
  9. OnlyaSinner

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    "For now I know...", viewed from a human perspective, implies that the speaker had not known previously. Given the scriptures on God's omniscience (Psalm 39, for one example), I don't think we should apply that interpretation to Him.
     
  10. Revmitchell

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    Wrong according to whom? God can ask or do it Himself and be perfectly justified. He made us and he can take us out at His good pleasure.
     
  11. StefanM

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    According to God's own character. If God wants to take anyone out, that's his right, and we have no basis for questioning it. What comes with a bit more challenge is when he involves humanity.
     
  12. StefanM

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    I've heard this interpretation as well, but I think it's also entirely plausible for the Angel of the Lord to be God's highest ranking messenger (angel). I would consider him like God's ambassador to humanity. When he speaks, he speaks with the full authority of God.
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    That is all that needs to be said right there. However, it is clear from scripture that Abraham had a faith in God that God would provide the sacrifice Himself (Genesis 22:8) and still keep His promise with regards to Isaac. It is a mistake to divorce the command to sacrifice Isaac from the context and then question what God did. It does harm to God's character, His word, and our theology. Your question is inappropriate.
     
  14. Van

    Van
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    When we see someone ask a question, should we assume ulterior motives, like those that asked questions of Christ only to ensnare or disparage. Or should we do our best to answer from scripture, knowing that truth is our ally. Plenty of time to shake the dust based on responses.
     
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  15. JonC

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    I agree with that interpretation. It corresponds with the times the Angel of the Lord accepted worship, and here when the Angel of the Lord declares that Abraham did not withhold his son from him. It seems to me that the same one who commanded Isaac to be sacrificed is the same one to whom Abraham did not withhold his son.

    Insofar as God being morally justified, I don't think that that even makes sense as moral justification is based on God. But for Abraham, it was a belief in God's righteousness and His provision (and in the concept of resurrection). For God, it was never a moral issue. Had He allowed Abraham to kill Isaac, it wouldn't have been a moral issue. That said, I believe the reason that God commanded the sacrifice was to test Abraham's faith as well as to foreshadow the Cross.
     
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  16. Van

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    Spot on JonC!
     
  17. Yeshua1

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    God already knew wehat would happen, but he wanted to make sure that Abraham himself would know and understand that his faith and trust in God had indeed gotten to that stage...

    was NEVER a question if God would allow Abraham to kill his son, as the Lord knew that he would not...

    This is the type of situation that really vexes those into Open Theism!..
     
  18. StefanM

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    I fail to see how a sincere question seeking a sincere answer is inappropriate. I know this is a point of attack for atheists, so I just wanted to have a good answer. I apologize if it appeared to be something else.
     
  19. StefanM

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    Thank you for your reply. I'm honestly just trying to get things straight in my head. A few years ago, I might have been able to formulate a good answer on my own, but I've had some health issues that have made some things a bit more difficult for me. That's why I sought the help.
     
  20. StefanM

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    I think the foreshadowing of the cross is probably the clearest element of this story, and I know it's important to keep that in mind at all times.

    I also recognize that perhaps I chose poor wording with "moral justification." I mostly meant to ask how this situation fits with God's character, as revealed in the Bible. On its face, the command seems very unusual, and I was simply seeking a solid answer for my own sake and for the sake of others who might raise the question with me.
     

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