Yesterday’s meditation in “My Utmost for His Highest” is one of the very few – perhap the only – instance where I believe Oswald Chambers got something majorly wrong. Here’s the Scripture reference and the first paragraph:
Take now thy son . . and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. — Genesis 22:2
Character determines how a man interprets God’s will (cf. Psalm 18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God’s command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this tradition behind by the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way. If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditions that misrepresent Him. There are many such beliefs to be got rid of, e.g., that God removes a child because the mother loves him too much – a devil’s lie! and a travesty of the true nature of God. If the devil can hinder us from taking the supreme climb and getting rid of wrong traditions about God, he will do so; but if we keep true to God, God will take us through an ordeal which will bring us out into a better knowledge of Himself.
DJ: God did not break Abraham from any tradition that misrepresented Him. God fulfilled in iconic form a requirement that He Himself laid down: In Paul’s words, “without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins]” – Heb 9:22. God required of Abraham that he give up his son, his only true heir, the son of God’s promise, as a sacrifice for sin. I agree He had no intention of having Abraham actually complete the act, but He had every intention of showing Abraham what was required for the forgiveness of sins. By letting the sacrifice proceed to the last possible moment, Abraham was given the opportunity to prove to God and to himself that his faith was genuine and complete. Once that was accomplished, God provided the sacrifice – an icon of the sacrifice that would be provided through the binding, scourging, and death of God’s own true Son, the Son of God’s promise, the Paschal Lamb slain for the sins of the world. The tradition was not meaningless, and it was not misrepresentative of God. Indeed this particular instance of the sacrifice definitively proves the nature and character of God: completely holy, completely perfect, and completely loving. And He calls us to become that, “to be conformed to the image of His Son” Who was that Lamb (Romans 8:29).
Chambers is correct when he says, “There are many such beliefs to be got rid of”. It’s just that the requirement for sacrifice – and our faith in God to provide it – is not one of those beliefs.