Wrestling With the Text

Wrestling With the Text
Author: Andrew Archer, Student Ministry Director
Foretold - Part 3
Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together.
– Genesis 22:8
When my wife, Delaney, and I were living in Clarksburg, she was involved with a ministry for teen moms. She served as a mentor for them, and we would invite them into the “normal” ministry we were doing for teens. This provided opportunities for them to have friendships and experiences alongside their peers in spite of their very different life circumstances. We would recruit adults to babysit while the moms got the opportunity to play wild games or read the Bible, sometimes for the first time.

One of my favorite memories from this time in ministry was during one of our Bible studies. We probably had around six or so students on this particular evening. Two of those students were the teen moms that Delaney was closest with. These girls were unfamiliar with classic Bible stories, which may seem rote to those who grew up in church. The story we studied that evening was the same one Pastor Tim shared with us this past Sunday, that of Abraham and Isaac found in Genesis 22.

For those of us who know the story well—I think we can miss out on just how shocking it is to see God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son. I know that was the case for me until we went through the passage with those girls.

Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. You’re 16 or 17 years old. In many ways, you’re an outcast amongst your peers. You’re looked down on by most adults for the decisions you’ve made. But at the same time, your child is the most precious thing in your life, and you would do anything for them.

This is the lens these girls had as they read that God asked Abraham to do the unthinkable. They couldn’t believe it. And because they didn’t know the full story, they were on the edge of their seats—both emotionally and physically as we read each new word. When we finally got to the end of the text and read how God saved Isaac, tears burst forth from relief.

What I appreciated most as I reflected on that night was how those girls genuinely wrestled with the text. They experienced the full range of emotions; they were confused, angry, sad, joyful, and more! They asked good—and hard questions. They wondered, “Why?” and sought the answers.

Read through some of the most familiar stories in the Bible with fresh eyes because when we don’t genuinely wrestle with God’s Word, we will miss out on the fullness of what God has for us.

So, why did God ask Abraham to do the unthinkable?

God wanted to test Abraham's faith. But couldn't He have done it in some other way? Yes! He absolutely could have. God tested Abraham with his son, Isaac. This situation would point to another Son who was to be sacrificed by His Father a few thousand years into the future. That Son would actually be sacrificed. He would be given up for the sins of the world.

My encouragement to you would be to read through some of the most familiar stories in the Bible with fresh eyes because when we don’t genuinely wrestle with God’s Word—when we don’t ask hard questions and wonder, “Why?” we will miss out on the fullness of what God has for us in His Word.
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