Matt 18:6 “And everyone who commits an offense against one of these little ones who believe in me, it were profitable for him that a donkey’s millstone would be hung around his neck and he be sunk in the depths of the sea.” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
Jesus is the revelation of God. The good news is the revelation of a God who saves. Jesus is that revelation. Jesus said stuff like this:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. (ESV)
Jesus also says this:
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (ESV)
And what is the “name” of the Son of God? Jesus.
Iēsoús – Jesus, the transliteration of the Hebrew term, 3091 /Lṓt (“Yehoshua”/Jehoshua, contracted to “Joshua”) which means “Yahweh saves” (or “Yahweh is salvation”).
God saves! God is salvation! When we believe this we are no longer condemned. That is what it says. Jesus reveals the nature and character of God. His revelation was very contrary to the angry-God image of the Hebrew religious leadership (and tradition). “Forgiving enemies, what? Turning the other cheek, are you kidding? Not judging, then who is going to do it?” Just like the religious of today they screamed…chaos, anarchy, you are letting them get away with anything, God is not that good, just look at what it says…and away we go back to a fallen-nature image of God that Jesus came to set us free from.
So if you want to know God you must know Jesus. Want to know more about God? Want to see if He is really that good? Want to find freedom from fear? OK, maybe one domino falling is all it takes. How about this one?
Matt 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (NASB)
So what do you think God feels about hurting children? Would Jesus approve of killing children? Is killing a child “evil?” Is ordering the killing of a child “evil?” Would Jesus approve of a child sacrifice? Would Jesus “order” a child sacrifice? Did Jesus order a child sacrifice?
Gen 22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (ESV)
What does it say on this side of a revelation of God through Jesus?
Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, (ESV)
Who tested Abraham? Does it say explicitly who tested Abraham in the verse above? OK, don’t get mad at me yet…there is more.
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. (ESV)
The words tempted and tested in these verses are exactly the same word in the Greek.
So what is the point? It is not OK to sacrifice a child to a god, any god, ever. So what is going on? Let me suggest a few things as background. Abraham was alive when it was normal to sacrifice a child to a god. This was a thing to do to a mythological god that would bring blessings to the people (or so they thought). The devil had not been mentioned (other than the serpent story in the garden which we find out later was the devil) until David and his census in 1 Chronicles. The people during the time of Abraham to David would have believed in a monotheistic concept of God that brings good and evil (we know better now). Job (similar timeframe) blamed God for all the stuff that the devil was doing to him.
Is it possible that Abraham heard wrongly? Is it possible that the devil was involved? Does it matter? In the end what was the “test?” Did Abraham trust God, His nature and His promises? That was what made their relationship so unique and a model of faith for us today. Abraham believed God. Abraham believed in who God was. Abraham believed that God would keep His promise. Abraham believed in a good God. Abraham believed in the “name” of Jesus…God saves!
Heb 11:19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (ESV)
Why do I tip such a sacred domino? It isn’t to get a reaction or be shocking. I am hoping to encourage you to use your mind of Christ. Jesus is the revelation of God for us. The people of Israel did not have a full revelation of God until Jesus. None of us had a revelation of God until we met Jesus. We can search the scriptures to find eternal life but it is only found in Jesus. Eternal life is that we would know God. Jesus brings us the revelation.
Believe what you want about Abraham and his “test.” That is your choice. I believe the power of the story is the faith of Abraham in a good God. He believed that God saves. Maybe there is more behind the story than we can “see” from our perspective. Maybe like Job, the devil is playing a bigger part, trying to suck Abraham back into some Canaanite, Mesopotamian god-worship (including child sacrifice) and God comes to the rescue? The beauty of the story is Abraham never lost sight of who God really was. Abraham never lost faith in the nature of God. Abraham never doubted that God would provide as He always had in the past. This is what it means to “believe in the name of Jesus!”