Can you imagine? This woodcut image is found in a book titled “Delightful Stories.” Delightful for whom? (p. 127, “Delightful stories: Home talks out of the Wonderful book.” (1888). Public domain.)
I have a Problem with Abraham: Suppose the story was suppose to be different?
I’ve always had a problem with Abraham. Yes, God — at least in the Hebrew scriptures — blessed Abraham. But remember, the story is written from hindsight.
More to the point here is a father who is willing to sacrifice his son “because God told him to.” Would you or I be willing to do this? Can’t speak for you. I can tell you though, I wouldn’t have. Here also is a husband who passes his wife off as his sister, knowing full well that the Pharaoh wants to sleep with her. Then there’s the man, who with his wife, abuses his mistress (true, she’s called a “maidservant,” but that changes nothing) and sends her off pregnant to fend herself. Then God told her to go back to the abuse?
Can you see why I have a problem with this story? How do you reconcile such a story to a God whom we profess to be a God of love? There is no simple answer. Many have tried, none have really succeeded. Somehow, we Christians have made the attempted sacrifice about Jesus sacrificing himself for our sins. Yet, if the “sacrifice for ours sins” theory of the atonement is not the view we follow, what do we do with Abraham?
Perhaps we need to look at the whole story from a different perspective. Perhaps Abraham did not rise up to the task. Perhaps what God really wanted was for Abraham to wrestle — argue — with him as did Jacob, Moses, David in Psalms, and Jesus in the garden. How would the story have turned out then? Yes, Abraham was blessed, but the blessing was a two-edged sword. The Hebrew people never truly had a a land of their own. Even today the half-brothers fight.
One thing the story of Abraham does teach us— No matter how stupid we we are, no how selfish we are, God still loves us and blesses us. But just think, if we’d argue with God what the blessing might be.