In Genesis 22 God tells Abram to sacrifice his first born son, a son that was long overdue and the passion of Abrahams life. Abraham climbs a mountain with his boy, always believing that God would provide a sacrifice rather than Isaac ending up on the altar. We pick up the story in verse 12 when an angel of the Lord speaks;
“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.” Genesis 22:12-14 (NIV)
In Abrahams time, child sacrifice was the way you demonstrated your loyalty to your god. Religion will always tell you that you must do certain things to appease God, who is generally angry, or so “holy” that He can’t stand to be in the room with you. Even in Christianity we have taught and preached that we are such revolting sinners that we really should be subjected to an eternity in the fiery pits of hell.
However, in this story we see that God provides the sacrifice to demonstrate His loyalty to Abraham! What a concept! God actually wanted Abraham to know that He was for him and not against him. That He wanted to bless him and was committed to him. This is the consistent Biblical picture we have of God throughout the Scriptures. God is for humanity and not against it!
If we are in any doubt a quick look at the life of Jesus will make it crystal clear. In Jesus, God became human. Jesus, who by the way is the exact representation of the Father, (Heb 1:3) was not allergic to sinners, but was drawn to them. He was not put off, or disgusted, rather He was compassionate and accepting. Jesus death on the cross was not to appease an “angry holy God”, rather it appeases our own doubt and insecurity as to whether God really likes us or not. Jesus death on the cross is the ultimate demonstration of the love and commitment God has for us.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8 (NIV)
This God is different to all the others! This God did something for you first. This God is pursuing relationship with His creation. This God sees value and worth in humanity. God has already reconciled us to himself through Christ, meaning, He is all good with us! He is not counting people’s sins against them. Instead He says “I love you and am totally committed to you.” So how do you respond to such a bold statement? The statement made through sweats of blood, a brutal torture, a humiliating death? Can you trust the God Man who did all that to show you His great love?
I’m speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. – 2 Corinthians 5:20 (MSG)