is God vengeful?

Category : faith

The story of Abraham and Isaac is difficult for us to understand.  It’s shocking.  It’s offensive.  And for many of us, it confirms our view that the Old Testament God was mean and wrathful.  But is that really the case?  Is that really the message God is sending with this story?

I don’t believe God ever intended to take Isaac’s life.  He didn’t change his mind half way, or wimp out.  He intended to teach Abraham the He is loving and merciful, but it also requires submitting everything to following Him.  Those lessons hold true to us.  But we need to look at the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus.  And that means we get one more message to take away.  God never intended to take the life of a child.  Instead God wants us to understand that he will go where he won’t even call us to go.  God wants us to see that he’s a God who sacrifices for his people.  That he’s willing to pay a cost that very few of us would dream of paying.

God would never sacrifice a child.  But he’ll sacrifice himself.

Does that sound like an angry, vengeful, merciless God to you?  Or does it sound like a God who loves us more than we can even understand?

photo provided by flickr user CP Storm

doing it my way

Category : Genesis, God, faith, trust


It’s hard to trust God.  Partly because we don’t believe that the promises he makes us are going to happen.  “God’s a busy guy, he’s probably just distracted” we tell ourselves.

And so we do it our way.

We take matters into our own hands instead of waiting for what God has promised.  At least this is what happened to a guy named Abraham.  The Bible tells us Abraham and his wife couldn’t have children.  In fact they were actually too old to have children by the time God got around to making his promises. (Genesis 12:4)

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem like a promising start to me.

On top of that, it took 25 years for God to fulfill his promise.  But Abraham didn’t know it was going to take that long.  So after waiting about 10 years he got impatient.  (10 years is more than generous, right?)  And decided it would be a good idea to sleep with his servant.  A perfectly acceptable thing to do in that time.  But it wasn’t what God wanted him to do.

We want to do things our way, because at least we can see what we’re doing.  We figure where there’s movement there’s progress.  But that’s not really the case is it?  Sometimes all that movement means we’re just stuck on the treadmill and can’t get off.

So often forcing the issue with God makes things worse.  I’m sure Abraham thought it was a good idea to sleep with his servant.  This way at least he had some kind of heir.  Heck, his wife was the one who suggested it.  But this just isn’t the way we were designed to live.

And so there were consequences.

Interestingly the first person to be affected by this decision was his wife – who became jealous.  The second to be affected were the child and mother.  The third: Israel itself, because Ishmael and his sons “lived in hostility toward all their brothers.”  (Genesis 25:18)For those of you scoring at home, that’s pretty much the hat trick for bad decisions. 

Why is it that we try to force God’s hand?  We convince ourselves that we know better.  And we plow on ahead, even when, deep down, we know better. 

Sometimes we just have to take him at his word, and wait.

Which brings us back to the beginning: it’s hard to trust God.  Not just because we don’t trust God; because even when we trust him, waiting is so difficult for us.  Fortunately for us, God always follows through in his promises, just like he did for Abraham.