Many people in our day think God is cruel and savage, especially taking into account the Old Testament sacrifices. I have had this question lingering in the back of my mind for years, Why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? I know the commonly taught theory, the action is a picture of God providing Jesus as a sacrifice for us, but what was the significance for it in Abrahams time?
The more I contemplate this, the more I think it was to show Abraham and his household that the God he followed was a different kind of God. He wanted Abraham to realize He was not like the god’s of the area. We know from Joshua 24:2 that Abraham was a worshipper of other god’s. “And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, from ancient times your father’s lived beyond the river, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they serve other gods.'”
We can deduce from the fact that Abraham willingly took his son without question to sacrifice, that he was familiar with the worship practices of the land, which was child sacrifice. I believe that God had Abraham take his son to show him and his household that He is a God who cherishes life, not destroys, and that He does not need a sacrifice, but will provide His own, unlike the other god’s. God was beginning the nation of Israel through Abraham and wanted this nation to have different practices of worship, drawing people to Him.
Isaiah 55:9 says, “My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s actions are sometimes questionable in our minds, but they are always for a good purpose, even if we can not comprehend.
Father, forgive us for thinking Your ways are cruel and help us to trust the fact that You are loving God who cherishes life. In the name of Jesus, I pray.