Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reading the Scripture with Imagination and Insight

One of our challenges in reading Scripture is getting to know the people. We have read them many times. We know how they begin and how they end. Do we know the characters? Do they have an identity?

God tells Abraham to take his “only son” (Genesis 22:2) and “sacrifice him.” Let's imagine that we are Abraham. He is very old. He thinks all his serious choices are behind him. He is relaxing into retirement, expecting to hand the family business to Isaac. God made a promise to Abraham. He told him that he would become a “large nation.” He has a son: Only one son. (Ishmael does not count.) And he trusts God. Then he gets a message: “Kill the boy!” The message is clear: “Kill the boy!” Abraham is silent. The silence is deafening.

I have a son. Many of us may have children. I would die FOR my son. You would die FOR your children. But kill them? Isaac is alive because he is the embodiment of every promise God made. He is the promise!. We expect an argument. We would argue. We expect Abraham to argue. This is all monstrously wrong.

He does not say one word. He packs for the trip and leaves. Isaac asks about the sacrifice. “God will provide…” and on they go. He ties the boy up so he can kill Him. Not a single question. No argument. No hesitation. Compliance…from the father and the son.

We know it is just a test. We know he gets the boy back. We know Isaac lives a long life. We know…but Abraham and Isaac do not know. It is a terrifying reality to them. Do we know the struggle that produces such a faith? Here is a trust so radical it sees the invisible face of God and says, “Here is the boy. Here is the promise. Here is my life. I trust you.” This is not mental assent. This is not “blind faith.” Abraham's eyes are completely open. Open to the terror. Open to the glory. Open to the voice of God. Maybe if we open our eyes enough we can see the vision that guided Abraham.

A. I.

No comments: