What could you have to give up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Yesterday, one of the pastors at my church spoke on Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. Normally today, I would write about Memorial Day, but I honestly think these two ideas tie in together. After all, Memorial Day is all about being willing to make a sacrifice and acknowledging those who did make it.
When we look at the story of Abraham and Isaac, we who are Christians, and Jews many times, look at it and see a great story of devotion and sacrifice. Skeptics of Christianity look at the story and see God as a wicked monster and Abraham as a psychopath. For we in the apologetics world, our natural tendency is to leap into action and explain how they’re misunderstanding the story.
However, before we do that, let’s consider that they are at least taking the story seriously.
Consider what Abraham is being asked to do. He has wanted a son his whole life most likely and has been asked to sacrifice the son of the promised covenant that God Himself gave him. Also, Isaac was strong enough to go to the top of the mountain alone with Abraham and to carry the wood for the sacrifice so this is no toddler we’re talking about, but someone who is practically an adult at this point.
The way the story is told is also interesting. God tells Abraham to do this and the text in a practically nonchalant way says that Abraham gets up the next morning to do this. While Sarah dies in the next chapter, she is not mentioned here. If she was present, one can wonder how Abraham told the news to her if he even did.
What if it were you? What if you had to give up an only child? It might even be harder if you had multiple children and you had to choose one to sacrifice. Sophie’s Choice is never easy to make. How could it be done?
Abraham had to make a real decision. He had to really choose that he was going to go through with this. This was also the ultimate trust in God. God had specifically promised that it was through Isaac that the covenant would be fulfilled. Abraham had to trust that either he would be stopped or that Isaac would be resurrected, and resurrection had not happened before.
What of us today? What would be hard for us to sacrifice? Your child? Your spouse? Your parents? Your sibling? A friend? Maybe even a pet? What about a hobby or a job?
There are things we all have that are good in themselves that would be hard for us to give up. We wouldn’t want to. It’s why they’re called a sacrifice. If you gave up something you didn’t care about, it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. If you give up something that it’s easy to give up, that would also not be a sacrifice.
Suppose I gave $10,000 of my money to a charity right now. That would be a real sacrifice on my part. Now suppose someone like Elon Musk or Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos does the same thing. The charity would appreciate it, but for those guys, it would be chump change.
Before we explain the story of Abraham and Isaac, let’s listen to it really. We are called to make sacrifices in that we are to die to ourselves. We might have to make other sacrifices along the way as well.
Today, we honor those who did make sacrifices.
These were people who left their families and friends behind and knew there was a chance they would never see them again. What did these people think about when they died? Their wives? Their children? Good times with friends? We will never know.
And today, what will most of us be doing? Having a cookout. Now this is not to say that this is wrong, but let’s make it a point to remember those who have gone before us and are no longer able to join in. Some cookouts will have empty chairs there.
Thank you for all of those who have family members who are not there with us and who gave their lives so we could live free. They sacrificed themselves for what they would never enjoy. We should honor such as heroes.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)