Alternative Title: The day, my father almost killed me
I decided, at 18; I wanted to tell my side of the story. Yes, yes, for ages, you have heard my dad’s side. Here is a reminder of his story, just in case you forgot:
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 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.”
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
(Genesis 22: 1 – 18)
So, we were born in a time where there was already a system in place.
“Appease the gods” was a thing…
So the system was this. To say sorry for our misdoings, there would need to be a punishment. A sacrifice made. The idea and belief that this would make the gods happy.
So the people subscribed to this system would burn an offering an altar to try and make amends with the god. The aroma from the burnt sacrifice was supposed to be pleasing to the gods. (Oh man, those burnt carcasses hardly ever smelled good. The irony!)
And this system… is the world that my father was raised in.
So, to that the day on the mountain. It was a few years ago now, but I remember it clearly. It must be, because of the weight of that day. The weight of the moment.
Dad and I, we were close. After all, he had waited for me. God has heard his prayer. I was his pride and joy.
But that morning as he loaded the donkeys and told the servant to bring some wood; he was acting edgy. He wore his beautiful smile. But his eyes gave him away.
As a youngster, I was excited. To be outside. Going on an “adventure” with my dad.
Plus we were going to make a fire! (What little boy, doesn’t like that?)
The journey turned out longer than expected and my little legs, were feeling weary!
And it bugged me, that my dad, was not as talkative as usual. I could see he was having an internal dialogue; and it was paining him.
The trip by the way was magnificent! (Oh, I could wonder as a boy!)
The rugged mountains peaks around us.
The chameleons hidden in the desert shrubs.
The sheet of stars above us at night.
That silence hovering above us in the evening.
I think I visualise lot of that now, because of the weight of that trip. Something was up? But as such a young age, I could not work it out…
There was a moment, when I clicked that we were going to offer a burnt offering to God. It was when we left the servants behind and headed further on our own. But what exactly where we going to “offer God” and I asked my dad.
He said God would provide. (But he looked anxious with that answer!)
Then it got horrible… I can still hear my heartbeat on that very day, racing, so quickly!
“Dad, what are you doing?”
One moment, I was looking out. At the view.
Then the next, my dad, had grabbed me and was tying me up.
I was petrified! He had tears in his eyes. Mumbling, “we must trust God.”
He was trying to be strong, but he was broken! I could see that.
He hated himself for what he was doing to me.
He told me God had asked him to bring me up here to offer me as a sacrifice! What the heck?!
But we were taught, it was ingrained in us, appease the gods!
And s I lay there, no words, could came out, but in my head, there was a flurry of them. “What sort of God would do this?”
Because, the One that I have come to know; I know that He loves me. But this… what is this?
I closed me eyes, as I saw my dad pull out that knife.
I was scared of him at the moment. But I caught a glimpse of his eyes.
That wasn’t him. It wasn’t the dad, I knew.
As if the inner turmoil was spilling out. I love my boy so much.
Then came that voice! So loud, so definitive, so piercing, so holy!
I had never heard an Angel before. Wow! It was incredible!
It was a holy moment. I then understood what was going on.
I remember the message from that mountaintop so clearly.
Our holy God.
The God of my father.
Now, my God too.
He is holy. He is like no other!
If I had any doubt that God was real, in that moment it was eradicated!
I saw and heard for the first time, the God, my father had told me about.
And then the most incredible thing. In the thicket, right by us: there was a little ram. I swear to you, there was nothing there when we got there. A miracle indeed! The God of my dad. Now my God from that moment, had provided.
He was real!
He was to be feared. (Well not feared in the negative way! But a sort of holy respect, if you will.)
I remember, the lesson from that mountain, so clearly:
No other thing, no one, should come before God!
(Oh, how I fear, people of my time, now at 18. And I can imagine for generations to come – how they are always going to put many things before for God. And come up with elaborate reasons why…)
So, yes, you can imagine, that walk down the mountain, was a little bit awkward!
I was a kid. I was angry with my dad for being willing to do that.
But I had also heard the angel.
I understood the sanctity of the moment.
It was a moment far bigger than my dad and I.
I didn’t hate him for it.
I would forgive him in time.
So he and I, and some hurt walked down from that mountain that day. But I can not leave out this important fact:
I went up, with little first hand knowledge of who God was.
But I came down, having had a real encounter! I had heard His voice.