I’ve wanted to write about the binding of Isaac for some time now. I believe it to be one of the most revealing stories as to “God’s” true character. We’re all familiar with the story, right?
According to the narration, Abraham sets out to obey “God’s” command to sacrifice his son, Isaac. After Isaac is bound to an altar, God stops Abraham at the last minute, at which point Abraham discovers a ram caught in some nearby bushes. Abraham then sacrifices the ram in Isaac’s stead.
Now, the question is why would “God” command such a revolting thing? The answer is simple: “God” demanded fear from his servant…so much for the standard “God is love” garbage.
Let’s give the story a detailed review and take a closer look at “God’s” true character:
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”, “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [Genesis 22:1-2]
So here we have an all powerful deity, quite literally, toying with his creation. It begs the question: Why would “God” test his creation if “he’s” all knowing? Either he’s all-knowing and just wants to play or he’s not all-knowing and needs to question Abraham’s loyalty. The answers are either “God” is a sick bastard or he’s no “God” at all (since one of the definitions of God is to be all-knowing).
We’ve only just begun the analysis and it’s not looking too good for “God”. Let’s continue…
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” [Genesis 22:3-5]
Notice how Abraham does not ask a single question about what he’s just been asked to do. This set’s a very dangerous and real example that has been used by all religious institutions since the beginning of time: Don’t question authority no matter how wicked their demands may be!
This story is still taught to this very day as a lesson in submission. Abraham puts obedience to “God” above his love of his own son Issac, an act of total submission.
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” , “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”. Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. [Genesis 22:6-8]
This is pretty wicked stuff…Not only is Abraham intent on sacrificing his child, but he makes Isaac carry the wood on which he will be sacrificed!
Judging by Isaac’s question, it’s fair to conclude that he’s intelligent. He has assessed the situation, concluded that something is missing, and decides to ask his father for guidance. This is the stuff that all fathers dream off, yet Abraham is cold as ice (the perfect follower) and decides to lie to Isaac about his fate.
Just imagine the hours of treatment and rehabilitation that Isaac would require to get over an ordeal like this. If this would happen today, I can assure you that Abraham would be locked up, labeled delusional and classified as a danger to society! Leave to religion to worship the loonies.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” , “Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” [Genesis 22:9-12]
And there you have it… “God” wanted to make sure that his servant feared him!
The reason for the entire ordeal was simply “God” needing fear from his servant. This is not a “God of love”; “He’s” more of a trickster god, or a malicious god. This “God” seems to feed on fear and is willing to demand that which is most precious to his creation, in this case, Abraham’s child.
There is no softening the plain meaning of this frightful story; that God would require humans to sacrifice their children to satisfy his craving for fear and totally submissive subjects.
This ranks up there as one of the most disturbing and cynical stories in the Bible, yet it’s taught and revered by our three greatest established religious institutions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (though Islam uses Ishmael instead of Isaac). What kind of institution would preach such a repulsive story?
This is not the typical way that your preacher, rabbi, or television special teaches you the story of Abraham and Isaac, but I assure you that this morally monstrous account is there in black and white just as I have described it. Read it for yourself.
Just to recap… What was “God” testing?
Answer: Just how much his servant feared “him”.
I hope this article has opened your eyes as to the real reason behind the binding of Isaac and shed some light on “God’s” true character.
Thanks for reading,
All Bible quotes taken from Today’s New International Version.