What Kind of God?

2024년 2월 25일

What Kind of God?

< Second Sunday of Lent >

 The sacrifice of Isaac is one of the more dramatic and at the same time enigmatic stories in the Bible. It’s well known yet not well understood. God blessed Abraham and Sarah with their only child in their old age. Then God mysteriously asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. Abraham obediently takes Isaac up the mountain, builds a fire and is about to kill his son when God sends an angel to stop him. A ram is sacrificed instead. By successfully passing this test, Abraham is acclaimed as the father of our faith. But even as we listen to this wonderful story, a nagging question arises: what kind of father would willingly sacrifice his child? And what kind of God would require such a thing? The key to understanding this story lies in knowing the background. The neighboring Ammonite people worshipped the pagan god Moloch. Moloch was a bloodthirsty god who regularly required the sacrifice of children to ensure a good harvest, victory in war or protection from enemies or diseases. What’s worse, the Ammonites complied! Parents routinely, if not willingly, allowed their babies to be sacrificed on the altar of Moloch.

What frightening faith they must have had! To show that Abraham’s faith was at least as strong as that of the Ammonites, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. By raising his knife Abraham showed himself to be ready to obey God with a faith at least as strong as that of the Ammonites. But by stopping him, God showed he was more merciful than Moloch. No longer would child sacrifice desecrate the Holy Land. Of course for us Christians, the story does not end there. The sacrifice of Isaac foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus. This time it was God who did not spare his only begotten Son to show us just how much God loves us and believes in us! As we journey through Lent, instead of concentrating on how much we are giving up for God, let us hold in our hearts gratitude for how much God did –and continues to do– for us.