Given By Rev. Madison Shockley July 2, 2017
The saying “There is always a ram in the bush” is a piece of folklore. One has to be familiar with the story of Abraham and his son, Isaac, to understand the meaning of this saying. This story follows last week’s passage where Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away. God is now testing Abraham. He is told to take Isaac to a place on a mountain three days away and sacrifice him. Biblical stories are deep, multi-layered expressions of human culture. Today, we are examining the interpretational dimensions of this story. There is the oral tradition of a human story. As the Jewish faith grew, they layered over it a theological understanding of who they were as a people. Today, we are focusing on the human story. Abraham was distraught and maybe angry that Sarah made him send Ishmael away. Now Isaac is his only son. As Abraham sets out on this journey, he has Isaac carry the wood. As Abraham and Isaac ascend the mountain, Isaac asks where is the sacrificial lamb. Abraham replies that God will provide it. Most would consider a father killing his son as inconceivable. In ancient times, human sacrifice was part of the culture in some places during certain times. There was a belief that human sacrifice had benefits for the family, class, or nation. Remnants of this practice are seen in honor killings. A shame is erased when the source of that shame is killed. Could this be the case for Abraham? After Isaac asks the question, Abraham may have seen a new path of faith. Life can go on even after making a tragic mistake. God would provide the lamb to end the shame he felt. Faith allowed Abraham to keep walking though he did not know where the sacrifice would come from. This touches our lives. We too must live through the tragic moments of life with our own children. We do this because we have faith and live in hope.