A sermon preached [remotely] by the Reverend Michael Anderson Bullock,
on 28 July 2020 [Proper 8]: Genesis 22:1-14; Matthew 10:40-42

A God Who Tests?

And after these things God tested Abraham…
[Genesis 22:1]

It’s like a biblical Rorschach, this passage from Genesis.  What do you see?  More to the point, how do you view what can arguably be the most difficult passage in the Bible?  What sense do you make of this testing?  Does our understanding and expectation of faith include being tested – tested by God?  In what ways does this story, referred to in two telling ways: either as the “Sacrifice of Isaac” or “the Binding of Isaac” – in what ways does this story speak to your notion, to your understanding of God?  And if you are not willing to cut this passage out of your Bibles, how does it sit with you that God can test like this?

This morning’s first scripture lesson starts with this curious phrase: “After all these things…”  What “things”?  Essentially, after waiting for God to come through with his end of the bargain that the Holy One made with Abraham: namely, that Abraham (incredibly in his old age) would have a son with Sarah (who has been barren and is herself well-beyond the age of having babies), and that Abraham’s lineage would become a great nation, honoring God and making the God-life known and sharing it with the world.  That’s the deal!  The deal in this case is called “the Covenant”.

The birth of Isaac is the physical evidence of the veracity of the covenant, and “after all these things”, after all the hopes and dreams, struggles and temptations, we now see Isaac as a strapping young man.  God has made good on the promises and on the hopes of Abraham.

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