Imagine three things concerning Genesis 22:
- Abraham’s father (Terah), was still alive,
- Father’s Day was part of the Hebrew culture,
- and Abraham and Isaac’s trip to Moriah happened over the course of a Father’s Day weekend.
If all of that were true, then Terah could have received a postcard from his son saying, “Happy Father’s Day from Mount Moriah.“
And that would supply us with the emotional landscape we need to keep this story fresh (maybe raw is a better word). To think of Abraham sending Terah Father’s Day wishes while he is preparing to sacrifice his son is dark and surreal—something you would expect Stephen King or the Coen brothers to come up with, not God.
Yet Genesis 22:1 makes it clear that everything connected with Moriah was God’s idea from start to finish. It was to be a test for His child Abraham.
Most of us don’t appreciate tests. They are painful meaningful specifics that get in the way of our comfortable wandering generalities. Sure I love God and would do anything for Him. What . . He wants to be Lord of my money? He wants to reign over my speech? He wants me to love the unlovely? Can I get back to you on this?
If we are unable to appreciate the test itself, maybe we can at least appreciate the purpose behind it. God’s “now I know” (v. 12), is accommodative for James tells us in his discussion of these events (2:21-24) that years before when God counted Abraham’s faith for righteousness (Genesis 15:6), Abraham had it in him then to do what God later asked him to do at Moriah. That’s why James writes that 15:6 was fulfilled in Abraham offering Isaac (22:23). Though the opportunity didn’t come for quite a while, his faith in God was on fire years before. The teacher who tests often already knows exactly what’s inside their students—the purpose of the test is to draw it out. In this case, Abraham is tested so that his faith might be brought to the fullest light as an example for all. God is arranging events to create, nurture, and deepen Abraham’s faith. This is what father’s are supposed to do!
But what kind of father, what kind of God, asks a father to sacrifice his son? The answer is a God (and Father), who did the same Himself. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that what happened at Moriah is a microcosm of what would happen centuries later at a little hill called Golgotha. It would also involve a father & son, a sacrifice, a painful question, three days, and God providing.
In the end, we’re grateful that our Father sees in us things we’re unable to see in ourselves and arranges events to bring our faith to the forefront. But we’re absolutely awestruck and humbled by what we see in His submission for our sakes.