BIBLE STORIES (19): ABRAHAM’S TRIAL

What I am about to post here is one of the most controversial stories in the Bible, especially when it comes to understanding the nature of YAHWEH, and his relationship to, and with man. Interestingly, I had written about this sometime ago, not as part of this series, but in relation to an Islamic festival in “EID AL-ADHA AND THE SPLIT BETWEEN THE ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS | https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/eid-al-adha-and-the-split-between-the-abrahamic-religions/” and the different interpretation as well as dramatis personas involved, as elucidated in the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In Genesis chapter 22 verse 1, it is written that “… YAHWEH did tempt Abraham”, but before I go any further I would like to draw your attention to Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:13, where you can easily glean the following points from:
1. That – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man”, that is to say any temptation that comes to you is such as is common with humans, put succinctly by the Yoruba when they say, “A rì irú e rí, a fí j’omodé l’áyà ni”, literally meaning it’s only children we scare, when we say we haven’t seen this sort of thing before!. It is therefore instructive to return to YAHWEH in prayers when we face temptation and trials like Job did, rather than looking for one devil or diabolic human or the other to blame (or cast and bind), or visit evil prayers or curses upon, and that even when it is likely or obvious as in the case of Job that the devil was behind his travail, or even man as in other cases (as the case may be).

2. ” … but YAHWEH is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that/what ye are able”; a very personal part of the verse for me, seeing that I have suffered heavy losses in several aspects of my life this year, some of which I am yet to recover from. However, when a friend in reference to the above quote, posted on one of the social media outlets, that the angel in charge of sharing temptations must think he is Clark Kent, I couldn’t help but smile and feel sad at the same time, as those words clearly mirrored me at the point in time. Regardless, the point that’s been made shouldn’t be lost, and which is the fact that YAHWEH is “faithful”, and wouldn’t have “approved” of your temptation if he hadn’t considered you capable of overcoming it. I would again refer you to the story of Job to corroborate this assertion of mine, so that I don’t digress too much from the subject matter, though I fear that I may still come back to it. The admonishment that we give “thanks in all things” couldn’t be more sufficient here.

3. “… but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”, and that my friend is the crux, and the end of the matter. In fact, if not that I intend to elaborate more on that Abraham story, this is a very comfortable place for me to stop swiping qwerty, and call it a day with this post, but for your sake, I’ll move on. It is imperative that we approach our temptation/trials/problems/challenges as we may have done tests and examinations in school, understanding that there isn’t going on to the next class with passing the test or exam. Such my friends is life, even if the trials are such that it will cost us our lives, it shouldn’t shake our love for YAHWEH.

Armed with what you’ve read in that short Paul’s message to the Corinthians, lemme take you back to Genesis 22:1, where I’d already told you, that it was written that YAHWEH tempted Abraham. Verse 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”. This is at a time when Abraham had acquired the reputation of trusting YAHWEH enough not to question HIS instructions, but rather go on to do as he’s bided, just like the first time he was called upon to leave his father’s house “unto a land that I will shew thee”, (Genesis 12:1) and he proceeded without question. Sometime ago, a friend and I thought about what would happen should a Nigerian in today’s time and situation be asked to build an ark, like Noah to save his family because of an impending flood to be caused by YAHWEH, owing to man’s sin. In the end we arrived at the point that the ark wouldn’t even pass the foundational stage. I’m sure if we looked at the case of Abraham with Isaac, with the specific instructions as to where and how he should be sacrificed, we would also come to the same conclusions, especially seeing that there’s no word as to what the rewards will be, with Isaac “an only son”, “of promise”, and Ishmael exiled to “who knows where” after Abraham must’ve sacrificed him. The same Isaac that YAHWEH had promised HE’d call his seed by?

Indeed, we have heard stories, especially if you’re from the part of Africa I come from, of men even women using their children for money rituals, and secret societies latching unto this story as validation for dabbling into human rituals, with even some Bible scholars and believers linking the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac as an example YAHWEH imitated in offering his son to shed his blood and die for the remission of sins for mankind, which many have also interpreted as supportive of rituals even amongst Christendom, but inasmuch as I’d love to touch on these controversial aspects of this story, I’d rather remain with the letters thereof and what is to be learnt from what Abraham did.

Now, regardless of what you might have heard, or read, or felt to be what was in Abraham’s wrongly assumed “murderous” mind, the only passage that points us to Abraham’s thought is found in Hebrews 11:17, where the writer opined that Abraham in willing to sacrifice “his only begotten son”, accounted that “… YAHWEH was able to raise him up, even from the dead;” it is with that conviction, and nothing else (except you have a contrary view from the scriptures), that Abraham “rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which YAHWEH had told him” (Genesis 22:3).

Apparently, though Abraham had the requirement to perform a sacrifice, in the form a of burnt offering, he hadn’t told those around him what he intended to do. So, his wife Sarah had no knowledge of his intentions, so also the young men with him. At some point three days after they had embarked on the journey to the location for the sacrifice, he asked the young men not to accompany him and his son further to the point where he intended to “.. worship, and come again…” (Genesis 22:5) to them. It took Isaac, who was now laden with the “…wood of the burnt offering…” (v.6), while Abraham “…took the fire in his hand, and a knife”, to ask his father, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”. Abraham’s response, establishes the assertion in the Hebrews scripture I earlier quoted, in saying “My son, YAHWEH will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (v.8).

THREE DAYS AFTER COMMENCING THE JOURNEY TO THE SACRIFICE LOCATION, ISAAC WAS SADDLED WITH THE BUNCH OF WOOD, AND WALKED WITH HIS FATHER, LEAVING BEHIND TWO YOUNG MEN WHO'D ACCOMPANIED THEM TO THE SITE.
THREE DAYS AFTER COMMENCING THE JOURNEY TO THE SACRIFICE LOCATION, ISAAC WAS SADDLED WITH THE BUNCH OF WOOD, AND WALKED WITH HIS FATHER, LEAVING BEHIND TWO YOUNG MEN WHO’D ACCOMPANIED THEM TO THE SITE.

Interestingly, because Abraham had heard nothing contrary to the initial instruction from YAHWEH, he went ahead “… built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son (who also trusted his father), and laid him on the altar upon the wood” (v.9). But as Abraham made to “slay” his son, an “…. angel of YAHWEH called unto him out of heaven”, saying “… lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do you anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest YAHWEH, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (v.12). Thereafter Abraham found a ram behind him, offered that up instead of his son, and he “…called the name of the place YAHWEH-YIREH, as it is said to this day, in the mount of YAHWEH it shall be seen”.

AN ANGEL STOPS ABRAHAM FROM SLAYING HIS SON, OFFERING INSTEAD A RAM CAUGHT IN A THICKET OF BUSH NEARBY.
AN ANGEL STOPS ABRAHAM FROM SLAYING HIS SON, OFFERING INSTEAD A RAM CAUGHT IN A THICKET OF BUSH NEARBY.

I would’ve highlighted a key phrase there, save that I didn’t want to break the flow in the last paragraph. The key phrase is “not withheld”, which is what Abraham did and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. It’s our inability not to withhold things we hold on to dearly that many times cost us a relationship with our creator. Unlike Abraham, there are many Isaacs in our lives that we aren’t willing to sacrifice hence our relationship with YAHWEH suffers, sometimes irreparably to the point that we are ashamed to kneel in prayer and ask him for the forgiveness of our sins. A covenant with YAHWEH isn’t without sacrifices, unfortunately it is the opposite that people want to hear, understanding salvation to mean only to accept the saviour as ones personal L-rd and saviour, and just like that everything is settled, with no need to sacrifice certain behaviours, lifestyle, time or even delay gratification, just because we are under grace and turning the wordings of scripture on its head. That there, is my take on Abraham’s total submission to the will of YAHWEH, such that next time you go singing “Abraham’s blessings are mine”, take a deep breath and ruminate on the letters of that song, and consider if you’d be willing to undergo all of what Abraham had to endure including the requisite sacrifices to be called a “TRUE FRIEND” of YAHWEH.

‘kovich

REFERENCE:
– THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000

PICTURE CREDIT:
http://www.ourgloriouslord.com
http://www.sabbathcovenant.com

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