Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days (Gen. 21:34). And while there, I am persuaded that he was influenced by the pagan ways of the Philistines. “It came to pass after these things, that “God” did tempt Abraham.”
The apostle James said, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:13-14).
As I searched the Old Testament scriptures for understanding of the God that tempted Abraham, I found that the translators of the scriptures translated the Hebrew word elohiym (el-o-heem’). The Interlinear gives the meaning of this word as “gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative.
We must hear the voice of the Holy Spirit to know the nature of the true GOD and to determine which god is commanding Abraham to do as the pagans; for there were many gods back then.
The voice that Abraham heard, said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, 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 you of.” Now, if this god had the wisdom to know that Abraham loved his son, did he not already know Abraham loved him?
Surely we cannot justify murder just because it is a sacrifice. If it was justified back then, would it not be justified today? Yahweh, the God of the Israelite, was so set on mankind seeing him in his true nature that he sent his son into the world to be a manifestation of himself knowing they would crucify him (John 3:16-17). His desire for his Son was for him to “live” and be the light of the world. Those who crucified him were murderers acting out of the will of their own flesh. They were not offering a sacrifice unto the Father to please him, they were against the Word that was made manifest in flesh for their sakes.
Abraham did not see Yahweh in his true image or he would not have connected the voice he heard to Yahweh. He did not judge whether the voice he heard was in accordance with the law/nature of Yahweh. This was after the time of Cain, but even Cain knew it was wrong to kill for he hid his brother’s body.
Christ said, “If you see me you see the Father.” His nature and the Father’s nature were the same. In Malachi 3:6, Yahweh said, “I change not.” Christ [the nature of the Father] is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). I am persuaded that the voice Abraham heard could not have been his heavenly Father’s. Our God would not condone such actions.
There could be nothing more sadistic than a Father who has all knowledge and all power over a man to pretend that he does not know the man’s heart and then ask him to kill his son to prove his love. This world would be in a very sad condition if murder in the form of a sacrifice proved our love to one another.
Are we to believe that Yahweh left Abraham in the sadness and turmoil of his request for days then changed his mind at the last minute because he finally figured out that he really did love him? I think not! Love “is” kind.
If the voice Abraham heard was his heavenly Father’s, would this not have been a most sadistic thing for a father to command? Did Yahweh not consider the stress, the fear, and the trauma created in Isaac just so he, who was all knowledge and a “Holy” Spirit, could see what Abraham would do? Didn’t the heavenly Father already know Abraham’s deepest feelings and his faith? Why would he need to deceive and confuse Abraham to find out what he would do if he asked him to kill his son?
“For God [a deity, especially the Supreme Divinity] is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33).
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels [messengers]? how much more things that pertain to this life?” (1 Cor 6:2-3)
It is obvious that Abraham was sure in his mind that Yahweh would save Isaac, for he told his companions that he and Isaac would come back after going up the mountain to sacrifice him. In some of the cultures that he came in contact with during that time, it was common practice to sacrifice children to their heathen gods. It is obvious to me that Abraham was listening to the wrong spirit.
Verses 9 and 10: “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”
Is this a scene that any earthly father would ask of a son, even the worst of fathers? Was he not acting just like other pagans that sacrificed their children? Nowhere in the scriptures did Yahweh tell the Israelites to sacrifice their children to him. When Abraham heard the voice he obviously did not consider the GOD of Able, which he had to have known. I am persuaded that he was influenced by the pagan worshippers around him.
As we read the scriptures concerning Abraham and his attempt to sacrifice his son Isaac (verses 11 and 12), if we look closely we see a change of voices. The voice of the angel of the LORD (Yahweh) God said, “Abraham, Abraham.” And he said, “Here am I.” Yahweh repeating Abraham’s name is a way of correcting or drawing attention. It was like saying; you need to think about what you’re doing because you are wrong.
In Mal. 3:6 Yahweh says, “For I am the LORD, I change not; … .” Yahweh “is” love, love is kind, and He will not play both sides of evil and good. Murder is evil and will always be evil.
Yahweh’s angel said, “Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now [at this time] I know that thou fearest [reverence] God [judges, gods, and sometimes Yahweh], seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.”
These two verses could have just as easily been translated: Don’t kill your son with that knife; I know you have respect for me, so much so that you trust me to save his life. The term “seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me” leaves one with the impression that sacrifices were the way to give one’s child to Yahweh. If this was true, many Christians would be childless.
Verse 15 continues, “And the angel of the LORD [Yahweh] called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,…” There was only one other time that the angel of Yahweh spoke to Abraham concerning this matter and that was when he said for him not to kill Isaac and that he knew his heart. The voice that said for him to kill his son was not the voice of Yahweh or of Yahweh’s angel.
Now let us read verses 16 through 18: “By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD [Yahweh], for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son [because you were willing, though I did not require it of you, to give unto me your greatest treasure on earth]: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.”
We need to remember that the voice spoke to Abraham and said to make his son a burnt offering. He didn’t make his son a burnt offering because he was fully persuaded that he would not have to – he said that he and his son would return and he told Isaac that Yahweh would provide another sacrifices. Yahweh had already promised blessings upon Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3. Deep in Abraham’s heart, he knew the voice was incorrect, that it did not correlate with what Yahweh had said in the past. In his love, understanding and compassion, Yahweh knew Abraham’s deepest desire to obey him though he was wrong in his understanding, judgment and actions. To comfort Abraham, Yahweh reconfirmed his previous promise which had not been disannulled.
In what way did Abraham obey Yahweh’s voice? Was it by “not” sacrificing his son? Yahweh did not change his mind because he learned something he did not know before; he saved Abraham from making a grave mistake. How often are we Christians wrong out of our ignorance even though our hearts long to do that which is right? Even Saul was persecuting the Christians for the sake of his God because he truly felt he was right, yet he too was wrong.