In Genesis 12, God calls Abram out of the land where he is to a land of promise. Once there, God promises that Abraham’s decedents would be as numerous as the grains of sand and the stars of Heaven. The only problem is that, up to this point, Abram (who God renames Abraham) does not have a son.
In a visitation, God tells Abraham that he will bear a son in his old age, and sure enough he does.
In Genesis 22, Isaac is a young man, and God comes to Abraham again, this time asking Abraham to take his son up to the top of Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice.
And here’s where skeptic goes nuts. Since when is God a god that desires human sacrifice? The fact is, there is only one time where God demanded a sacrifice—the sacrifice of His Son.
Since all we know in this story is that God gave commands to be obeyed, and prepared an alternate sacrifice, that means there was a different intention all along—that this would be a test. A being not bound by space and time would have no issue of creating a situation where Isaac would not have been sacrificed either way1.
As for this lovely scenario:
Imagine that a good friend of yours comes to you and tells you about a tough situation that he’s in. He says that he heard God’s voice telling him to murder his son. Your friend loves his son, but he intends to go through with the murder because his devotion to God is greater than his love for his son.
Can you point to anyone today that hears God audibly? That God has come to visit physically? That God has created a covenant with individually? Lastly, is there any standing commandment of God for any type of sacrifice? Since Jesus was said to be the final sacrifice—once for all—there is no way God would say such a thing to anyone today.
You could easily tell your friend that he was wrong.
Lastly, what about all the other “commandments of God”:
Jephthah (Judges 11)
First of all, Jephthah is the one that promised (foolishly) to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his door after a victorious battle. It had nothing to do with God’s commands, other than Jephthah honoring an oath to God. And even then, the Scripture is unclear how he followed through. Some have said that he committed her to God, or left her to wander instead of murdering her.
God’s Direct Commands to Slay All (Ezekiel 9, etc.)
This is not a direct problem, in that we all stand before God as sinners, guilty of sin and deserving death. As Creator God, He has the prerogative to end any life, and He can choose the means. This is a case of the atheist standing in the position of God saying that he knows better, when he neither possesses the insight to know the heart nor the context of the command.
Rules for sale of Daughters as Slaves (Exodus 21)
Slaves have different connotations today than it did then. There must be some way to pay off debt. Furthermore, every slave in the Israelite kingdom was to be released every seven years. It’s a loaded term being used for the purpose of furthering a point.
Sex Slaves as Spoils of War (Judges 5:30)
This passage says that in the defeat of a certain enemy they took as spoil women from the defeated, but it does not declare that this was of God’s doing. This is totally taken out of context and worded to inflame.
So, of the comments in this first section, we see a case where God was in total control of a situation that will not be repeated, a man making an oath and men acting in their own accord, a command to enact a just judgment and a rule about how to justly provide service for a debt.
And we’re just getting started…
- If Abraham did not attempt to sacrifice him, Isaac would not die. If Abraham followed through, which he did, Isaac would not die.