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  • First

    1 posts, 1 voices, 395 views, started Jul 1, 2009

    Posted on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 by Denise Richardson

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    • Diamond
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      First  

      "And He said, "Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go
      to the land of Moriah, and offer him there" Genesis 22:2

      Love – There's a first time for everything. First times are usually quite significant, especially when the occurrences are in the Bible. For example, the first time we encounter the word 'ezer (translated "helper"), we learn something incredibly important about women.  In this verse, we encounter the word 'ahav for the first time. Oh, you need to know what 'ahav means. This is the Hebrew word for love.

      Do you find this a bit curious? After all, here we are in the middle of Genesis. We have already covered the creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham's call and the birth of Isaac, but not once is the word 'ahav used in any of those stories. If we were writing the book of Genesis from our John 3:16 evangelical perspective, we would probably start with this word. "In the beginning, God loved," is probably how we would open the text. But the Hebrew Scriptures reserve this word until God challenges Abraham to sacrifice his only son. That's when 'ahav becomes the only word significant enough to capture the thought. There must be a reason for this linguistic economy. What makes this particular story so different that it requires the introduction of this very special word?

      If you connected this story to the sacrifice of another Son, then you're in the right ball park. 'ahav describes a relationship between Abraham and Isaac that reflects another relationship, one that becomes the center point of all human existence. The Father and Son share a special destiny, and a special bond. And the love is not one-way. Isaac has to love Abraham enough to willingly lay down his life in obedience. Certainly Isaac could have easily overpowered Abraham and saved himself. But there is not a single hint of this in Scripture. Isaac loves his father. In Hebrew, that love is displayed by trusting him, no matter what the circumstances might seem to indicate. Does Isaac anticipate something is wrong? Of course. "Where is the sheep for the offering?" Does it prevent Isaac from walking alongside his father to the place of sacrifice? Not at all. Isaac obeys. That's love.

      Does Abraham love Isaac? How could a man who loves his son be willing to sacrifice him? But the text tells us that Abraham does love Isaac. In fact, he loves Isaac in a way that is unparalleled in any previous relationship between human beings. This is the first time 'ahav occurs. Abraham loves Isaac so much that he is willing to trust his son's fate to the God he has known for a century. Abraham withholds nothing. That is also love. And, not coincidentally, all these factors play a part in the love of the Father for the Son as the story concludes 3000 years later.

      The Scriptures are God's living word. They are deliberate words. When they don't follow the patterns we would expect, we need to pay very close attention. There is usually something hidden from view that we need to know.



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