Abraham got it wrong - He should have questioned God?


#1

Hello everyone,

In a homily in our parish church given by the parish priest, we were told that ‘Abraham
got it wrong’. When God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac to God Himself, that that
in fact Abraham, instead of being obedient, should have questioned God on making such a
request.
The parish priest’s point is that Abraham should have known that God is a God of love and
would never have made such a request that Abraham sacrifice his son to Him. Thus Abraham got it wrong by not questioning God over such a barbaric request.

Is this interpretation of the the Abraham and Isaac story and sacrifice to God an interpretation that others have heard or are familiar with?

God Bless
Neil


#2

God asked of Abraham nothing that He Himself was unwilling to sacrifice.


#3

It is a common interpretation, but it is simply wrong. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only beloved son. God asked of Abraham nothing that He Himself was unwilling to sacrifice.


#4

If Abraham had gotten it wrong, wouldn’t the end of the story be different. We see Abraham got it wrong when he had relations with his wife’s servant to have a child. God didn’t stop him because Abraham and Sarah weren’t talking/listening to God about it.

I believe God stopped Abraham because Abraham was doing exactly as God had asked. Then God said to Abraham that He saw Abraham was willing to do as God asked, even giving up his son. Then God supplied the lamb just as Abraham prophesied.

It is all a prefiguration of God giving us the Lamb for a sacrifice. We would not have this prefiguration had this story not played out as it did.


#5

Yes, this is a Jewish perspective held by some of the Abraham and Isaac story. G-d was testing Abraham NOT to find out whether he would obey Him but whether he would argue with Him and stand up for what is morally right, and, according to this minority perspective, Abraham FAILED the test.


#6

At the moment, I have no explanation to offer, but it’s interesting to compare it to Abraham’s unabashed questioning of God regarding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:
Genesis 18:23-25

Then Abraham drew near [to the Lord] and said: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous people in the city; would you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Should not the judge of all the world do what is just?”
It was some time afterward that Isaac was born. By that time, perhaps Abraham had seen enough of God’s power and fury to fear him. Perhaps too he had developed such a perfect trust (or faith?) in God that he was not compelled to question God’s command to offer Isaac up as a burnt offering.


#7

Also the theories:

  1. Abraham obeyed because he knew God would stop him and save Isaac,

  2. Abraham said beforehand, “God Himself will provide the lamb,” (Abraham had faith God would provide a lamb, and so went ahead being obedient to killing Isaac because he knew God would stop this and provide a lamb)


#8

Pax Christi!

So, by this reasoning, Zechariah in the Christian Scriptures was not out of his place when he questioned the Angel’s message? We Christians contrast that with the Virgin Mary’s fiat.

God bless.


#9

Wouldn’t it be very wrong and disrespectful to “question” God? He who made morality?!


#10

Zechariah was not wrong for what he asked, but why he asked. Mary asked from a place of trust and belief, “tell me more.” Zechariah asked out of doubt. Asking isn’t wrong… how and why can be.

“And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time” (Luke 1:20).


#11

Abraham believed God when he said that his descendants would be more numerous than the sand in the sea. God could only promise this and then command Abraham to kill Isaac if God could raise Issac from the dead.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.” He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

Abraham trusted God’s promise.

-Tim-


#12

When confronted with these sorts of Old Testament passages, I’m reminded of this great video by Fr. Barron. He argues that going back to Origen, Church thinkers knew to look at these OT stories as written in a certain language to convey a certain truth.

I think the lesson is clear, “Put God above all else, including your family.” God comes first. The particular tale is relating this truth in a way that the ancient Jews would understand. Remember, they were an ancient people and the ancient world was a hard place. The literary setting is distasteful to us today, but it wasn’t written directly to us. It was written that way for them. We have to recognize that the literary structure of the story isn’t the important thing, it’s the truth God is trying to convey.


closed #13

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