Abraham and Isaac’s Lesson For anti-Trinitarians

“A great war always creates more scoundrels than it kills” (Blackwood Magazine of England, circa 1860’s).

Genesis 22 is a wonderful harbinger of the Story of the Crucifixion; it paints a picture of Abraham, a father, walking side-by-side with Isaac, his son, to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice. This act, called barbaric to those who don’t understand, reveals Abraham’s faithfulness to God and willingness to do anything God asked him to do. The promise (covenant/contract) God offered Abraham in chapter 17 was specifically to be carried out through his son Isaac.

This very poetic and heart-tugging story is a test not only to Abraham, but we shall see it was also a test for Isaac. But more than that, in Isaac’s test is a eye opening lesson for anti-Trinitarians.

A Lesson For Anti-Trinitarians

Many anti-trinitarians like to tout that Jesus didn’t do anything of Himself, but was a vessel of God. They accentuate that “The Father” did everything through “The Son.” It’s how they preach and teach it creating a picture that Jesus was an empty vessel or puppet which God manipulated, like Geppetto, on strings. But really, it is so much more than that simplistic picture.

Some scholars speculate Isaac was twenty years old at the point of this story. Genesis 22:6 tells us, “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid [it] upon Isaac his son…” Anyone who’s ever built a fire, especially one that is going to be used to cook an animal knows that kindling cannot and will not do the job. Logs are needed, and pretty good-sized logs that will burn long and generate enough heat to consume the meat in this instance. Verse 3 tells us that Abraham cut the wood that morning before leaving. Would a young lad 10 to 13 years old be able to journey with his father, who then “took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac” (22:6) who then had to carry the logs off to a “place in the distance” (22:4)? I have to side with the experts and say a much older lad, strong enough to carry logs for a vibrant, strong, long burning fire would be needed to carry such a load.

For three days Abraham journeyed with Isaac to the place God directed them. Is there a significance in the three? Perhaps, but I don’t really know. But what I do know is that three days was enough time for Abraham to ponder all that transpired up to that point and was about to take place. Abraham knew what had to be done, and although his heart broke, he was steady on in his course.

I want to pause here and briefly address the word Trinity and the anti-trinitarian view of it. It is true that the term “Trinity” conjures up much controversy. Birthed by a church who at the time introduced to Christianity many false doctrines such as idol worship, non-biblical prayers to dead people they dubbed saints, and paying money to have dead relatives move from one place to another. However, this doesn’t mean that everything they ever did was not of God. Within those doors God raised up mighty warriors and defenders of faith.

We don’t have time to delve deeply into this topic, perhaps another time, but during the late 1990’s the internet boom was a new phenomenon, and businesses and people could now sell from their doorsteps to people on the other side of the nation. Two new phrases were birthed out of that new era: Brick and Mortar and E-Commerce.

There was a need to qualify and name the new technology, so as a result, those terms were coined. The same thing happened in the Christian world. The Jewish religion was now opened up to the world in the new Christian movement; in addition, a new language had taken over the world, Hebrew was no longer the sole language of the Bible so something needed to be done. The Jews always believed God was more than one, never questioned it, and simply accepted it. But the followers of the new Christian movement knew that many of the words used in the Bible for God were plural. They also recognized that there were three person’s mentioned throughout scripture, God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit. What to do with that? A new challenge arose in the new world of Christianity and no one really knew how to address this Triune issue. The words Lord or God were too ambiguous and didn’t really show plurality, so a new phrase was born in order to refer to the the obviousness of scripture: Trinity.

Unfortunately, this term didn’t come without it’s controversies. Remember, the church who birthed it also persecuted people for reading their Bibles. But all the same, a term was needed. Like anything in life, Satan endeavors to distort and mess up everything.

Returning to Abraham, he and Isaac traveled to the spot God guided them to. It’s interesting that Mount Moriah was the future spot of the Jewish Temple. What powerful imagery of Abraham placing his son on a slab or rock to sacrifice him on the same site where hundreds of years later Solomon would build the temple. Incidentally, not far away was the hill Golgotha.

Now, the lesson for the anti-trinitarians. I had this eureka moment a few days ago and mentioned it in my article “Evangelism 613-617″ article review. Genesis 17:1 tells us Abraham was 99 when God told him he would have “the promised son.” Genesis 17:17, 21 teach us that he was 100 when Isaac was born. If we conclude with the experts who say Isaac was 20 when this happened, then Abraham would be 120 years old. How many of you know of a 120 year old man who could overpower a young virile 20 year old?

Isaac was no mere empty vessel or puppet! He willingly, knowingly gave in to his father and allowed himself to be the sacrifice. We’re given this insight into the moment:

Isaac believed in God. He had been taught implicit obedience to his father, and he loved and reverenced the God of his father. He could have resisted his father if he had chosen to do so. But after affectionately embracing his father, he submitted to be bound and laid upon the wood. And as his father’s hand was raised to slay his son, an angel of God, who had marked all the faithfulness of Abraham on the way to Moriah, called to him out of heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me. {SR 82.2}

Here we’re given clear insight that Isaac willingly and knowingly participated in this command. In the story of redemption the Trinity are all willing participants. Christ is not an empty vessel who can’t think or make up his own mind. But even in a more perfect union, Christ willingly, during His ministry on earth and his crucifixion participated in man’s redemption. He knew and understood what had to be done, and like Isaac, just before Christ went to the cross, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You [will],” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus was a willing participant along the way, and although through His own strength, power, and might, could have done any of the miracles or raise himself from the grave, he willingly participated and submitted to God. Similarly, Isaac could have easily resisted his father, or easily gotten the lamb afterwords, he didn’t. Instead he chose to allow his hands to be tied and laid down so that his father could finish binding him.

Christ was no empty vessel puppeted by God. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were on display before all the universe and every step they made was scrutinized by Satan. Jesus had to willingly do nothing of His accord and allow God, through The Holy Spirit to accomplish man’s salvation. When men through fanciful words explain away God and diminish Them (plural), the awesome mystery of Them and what They’ve done is defiled. Isaac knew what would happen, but could not see the end result beyond being sacrificed. He could not see beyond the grave. This foreshadowing showed us that Jesus even more powerful and perfect way willingly and purposefully participated in the sacrifice, yet He too could not see beyond the grave.

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