this is a painting by Rembrandt. it depicts a scene from Genesis 22 when the angel of the LORD stops Abraham from killing his son Isaac.
this is one of the most challenging stories in the Bible. it is extremely demanding; theologically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
God asks Abraham to kill and sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loves.
it’s a “test.” and as with any test there is the possibility of passing or failing.
luckily, Abraham passes. a ram is provided for the burnt offering instead of Issac, and the promise first given to Abraham in Genesis 12 is reaffirmed here in chapter 22.
there are so many things to think about and so many questions to ask in this passage.
this is a dark passage; cold and cruel. our North American and 21st Century ears would call it barbaric. how could God ask Abraham (or anyone) to kill and sacrifice his son (or anyone)?
beyond the horrific nature of this story, there are beautiful allusions to the Gospel.
Martin Luther once read this passage for family devotions (awkward) and his wife, Katie, couldn’t believe it. she said God would never have treated his son like that. Luther replied: “But he did.”
God did treat his son this way. God sacrificed his son, his only son, Jesus, whom he loves, on the altar of the cross to bring salvation to every child, woman, and man on the face of the earth.