Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Genesis 22: God learns

As much as many theologians want to reject the notion, God learns the core of a person's character through testing.1 Any of us who have lived a few years know that a person does not really know the content of his/her own character until it is tested. We learn through experience to never make claims like "I would never do that" or "If it were me, I would... fill in the blank." We do not know the truth of those statements until we are tested.

Guess what. God does not know the truth of those statements either, until we are tested. We must not pass over the critical language of God ( = The Angel of Yahweh2):
Genesis 22:12, NRSV
He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
Note the mix of first and second person. This "angel of the LORD" is reporting what God knows and what God just learned.

The only way this passage makes sense is that God knew something after an event that he did not know before the event.

There is a little saying that goes like this: I'm not a judge of the sheep but I am a fruit inspector (Matthew 7:15-20). God is also a fruit inspector.

I leave you with some questions to ponder today.
Genesis 22:3
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.
Abraham's early start shows his determination to fulfill the requirement of the oracle. How did Abraham know this was a communication from God and not Satan?
Genesis 22:5-6
Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
How did Abraham know this? Does Hebrews 11:17-19 clarify or obfuscate?

1 More passages on God testing people: Deuteronomy 8:2; 13:3; Judges 3:1-4; 2 Chronicles 32:31; Psalm 139:23

2 On the Angel of Yahweh = Yahweh, which is usually true, cf., Genesis 22:15; 16:7-13; Exodus 3. But sometimes the angel is more like an aid or ambassador, cf., 2 Samuel 24:16; Zechariah 1:7-17; 12:8.

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