Fathers and Sons, and Fathers and Sons…..


I was surprised by Rachel Coleman’s article in Firebrandmag.com, “What Did Abraham Know?”. She says that her flight of imagination and this question arose after a pastor’s sermon suggested Abraham’s experience with God prior to Mount Moriah and the call to sacrifice Isaac was inadequate and his trust in God was tested and molded by that experience.

I had watched the recent movie about Abraham’s journey to Mount Moriah, “His Only Son,” and , like Ms. Coleman and the movie’s producer, I believe Abraham’s trust in God and obedience were very well-developed by that time. And while it was an agonizing journey and task, he did it. She points to numerous clues in Scripture that support her conclusion.

After watching the movie twice, re-reading the biblical account and reading her article, I believe that God was demonstrating to his people and testing in Abraham the inherent risk in a parent making a child more important in one’s life than God…. the gift becoming more precious than the Giver. Abraham demonstrated his proper priority in trusting God even with the life of his future means of a family legacy.

But also, Isaac, it seems to me, was at the age of burgeoning young adult accountability. While Abraham had had many intimate encounters with God, had trusted God’s promises, and had experienced consequences when he failed to trust and obey, Isaac’s experience with God was second-hand. He seemed to know of God only what he’d seen or witnessed in other’s lives. This event was a test, also, of Abraham’s ability to raise up his child in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and to learn to trust God’s promises, as well. Recall that the Egyptian maidservant Hagar seemed to have the authority and influence over Ishmael and Sarah had authority over Hagar. Abraham’s parenting of Ishmael started out rocky because of disobedient circumstances and it never lived up to God’s requirement.

Issac carried the wood up the mountain. He had to have been of some strength and stature to have done so. He could well have rebelled against the scenario as it began to dawn on him what was unfolding, but it doesn’t appear that he did. Isaac was trusting in his Father’s experience with and faith in God on the way up. On the way down it was Isaac’s own experience of witnessing Abraham’s submission to God’s authority and God’s requirement for obedience, as well as God’s faithfulness to keep his promise of a family line for generations to come and in providing a substitutionary sacrifice and restraining Abraham from going further than was necessary to demonstrate his obedience that would now be the basis for Isaac’s own understanding of God’s sovereignty and love. Isaac must surely have felt the love and favor of God on himself, every bit as much as Abraham had come to know God’s love and favor toward his own self. Issac never had to ask God’s name. He’d heard and witnessed the mercy of the God Who Sees in the lives of Hagar and Ishmael. He was himself the testimony to God’s blessing to his parents of offspring when it should not have been possible. Now Isaac had experienced God’s intimate, personal love and salvation for himself.

Later, Isaac’s own son, Jacob (who would become the Child of Promise through whom the family line would continue), who had a deceptive nature and therefore probably also a suspicious nature, found it necessary to ask the name of the supernatural being with whom he wrestled and to ask for a blessing….. Jacob has at Peniel his own kind of “spiritual coming of age” in his own right as he wrestled with God. And, recognizing the significance of this encounter, Jacob built an altar and sacrificed to God.

Genesis 32:22-31

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.24 So Jacob was left alone, and a manwrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?”Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Each generation must have its own personal experience with God. One is not automatically granted the status of Child of God and intimacy with God because a parent had it, although that witness by a parent is a potent one.

The Samaritan village leaders affirmed this, too. When the woman ran back from the well to ask them to come snd see this man, Jesus, who told her everything she’d ever done, they had to see and hear Jesus themselves., John 4:39-42:

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Are we relying only on the testimony of others’ personal relationship with Jesus or are we receptive to God’s desire to be welcomed into our lives…. of knowing and being known, loving and being loved, celebrating and being celebrated, and serving and being served by one another, as well? (CBByrd 3/27/24)