"And it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham..."
I tend to think of the story of Abraham and Isaac as a foretelling of Jesus. My brain always concludes with, "Wow, that's swell... look how God gave us this epic foreshadowing of His only begotten Son through Abraham. That's neat."
Then Bill Paxton and Soren Kierkegaard come stomping onto the scene to vomit all over my happy-go-lucky thoughts. Sigh...
"Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood."
I wonder, did Isaac combat his father when he began to tie him down? Where did his thoughts lead him? Did he think his father mad? Was he ready to give his blood to the fire?
So the question is begged: If God told you to do something absolutely repugnant, would you do it? The Christian answer must be, "Yes", but with the caveat, "But God would never do that, it goes against His nature." This is a fair place to land, but Kierkegaard is begging us to be Abraham on Mount Moriah. Can we do it? Bind your son! Raise that dagger! Ready yourself to plunge the blade into his flesh.
Again we may take solace in that the physical act was never committed. Isaac's blood was not spilled, and that spot was joyfully given the name,
"YHWH-jireh: The Lord Will Provide"
Genesis 22:14.But I ask, does Jesus not tell us that we can sin by our very thoughts? If covetedness towards our brothers and lust for our sisters is sin just by the thought alone, isn't also filicide?
This sparks the insistence of another strange bit of Scripture. 1 Kings 22:19-23... The prophet Micaiah gets a vision from God. God desires to bring destruction to the evil King Ahab. God, on His throne in Heaven, asks who will deal with Ahab that will lead Ahab to his end. A spirit speaks up and says he's good for the job. God asks, "How?" to which the spirit replies that he'll send a lying spirit into Ahab's prophets. God responds in verse 22 by saying, "You are to entice Him and also prevail. Go and do so."
So a literal interpretation of this 1 Kings passage has God deliberately sending out a spirit to lie. I must tiptoe through my proceeding comments, for these are treacherous waters. Can we too send people out to tell lies? Wouldn't this implement us in the sin of distortion? Is this not a kind of perjury?
The answer leads us to this prognosis: God can do whatever he wants. Truth is as subjective as that. Thankfully, and life-savingly for us, God has a will to love us and to keep His commandments. So these sorts of seeded scenarios are not likely to arise. But can we rule them out? If God wanted He could tell Bill Paxton to go kill demon-people, couldn't He? Is He not Sovereign?
Another rescue from the Abraham paradox can be found in the idea that the story takes place before the law was given on Mount Sinai. The sixth commandment of murder and the following Levitical laws outlawing human sacrifice were not yet uttered, so it's a good thing we don't have any later examples of righteous sacrifice.
"...for I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back."