On the mountain of the Lord

Genesis 22: 14 "So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.'”

Yesterday, Greg talked with us about the story of God's apparent demand that Abraham should sacrifice his son Issac. (Spoiler: at the last minute, God provides a ram as a substitute for Issac.) This story has troubled people for centuries, and it's definitely confusing! If God is testing Abraham, it feels like a pretty cruel test. 

But Greg pointed out a couple key things here. The first is that human sacrifice was fairly common during Abraham's time, so while Abraham was likely heartbroken by God's request, he wouldn't have seen it as completely out of left field. Second, it seems likely that God's eventual substitute (the ram) actually signaled to Abraham that his God was different than the God's of neighboring tribes and nations. In a way, by providing the ram, God signaled to Abraham, "Human sacrifice is ultimately not what I ask of you."

Put yourself in the position of Abraham. (It might help to listen to Greg's exploration of Ancient Near East sacrificial practices in this week's sermon; you can listen to that on CCLB's podcast.) What do you think of this reading of Genesis 22? Was it cruel for God to ask this of Abraham? Or does this make sense as a step toward nonviolence for God's people?