Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
[:18] The ethical problem which the story presents to twentieth-century readers is not the problem on which our author [of Hebrews] concentrates. The problem to which he invites his readers’ attention is this: The fulfilment of God’s promises depended on Isaac’s survival; if Isaac was to die, how could these promises be fulfilled? And yet Abraham had no doubt that the one who had given the promises required the sacrifice of Isaac. What was he to do? It was Abraham’s problem; apart from the dictates of natural affection, how could the promise of God and the command of God be reconciled? Later writers, reflecting on the incident*, make much of the turmoil in this score. Indeed, the impression which we get from the biblical narrative is that Abraham treated it as God’s problem; it was for God, and not for Abraham, to reconcile his promise and his command. So, when the command was given, Abraham promptly set about obeying it; his own duty was clear, and God could safely be trusted to discharge his responsibility in the matter.
–F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews
*Abraham’s relation to Isaac, ethically speaking, is quite simply expressed by saying that a father shall love his son more dearly than himself. Yet within its own compass the thical has various gradations. Let us see whether in this story there is to be found any higher experssion for the ethical such as would ethically explain his conduct, ethically justify him in suspending the ethical obligation toward his son, without in this search going beyond the teleology of the ethical.
–Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
Bruce mentions Kierkegaard and the title Fear and Trembling in his footnotes but didn’t quote him. I found what I thought was a decent quote but must confess I don’t understand most of what Kierkegaard writes. Somehow I managed to read this book a couple of years ago and thought of it before I looked at Bruce’s footnote.
Back to Bruce’s quote on Hebrews 11:18, this adds another dimension to my concept of worrying. We can obviously worry apart from God altogether and just worry. Or we can bring things to God but then worry about how he is going to do it. This isn’t for us to worry about either. It can become more complex by worrying about whether he will answer yes or no, and if he answers no, how he will then provide or work things out. This is God’s problem, not ours as long as we are obedient.
But what kept me going more than anything else was my confidence in the character of God.
–Ravi Zacharias quoting Charles Cooper in Cries of the Heart
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.