Episode 1.  Sacrifice of Isaac

Abraham's emotional sacrifice of his beloved son, Genesis 22:1-18.

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Download the Discussion notes [.doc]

  • Child sacrifice. The problem of child sacrifice here is a difficult one. But, remember that Abraham does not yet have the Law of Moses or any of the Hebrew Scriptures. God’s self-revelation is very limited at this point in redemptive history. So, Abraham could only work off the religious/ritual assumptions of the surrounding cultures where child sacrifice was not uncommon. The command would not have been as unthinkable as it is today and Abraham could not have known of later Scriptures where God clearly forbids it. But if God forbids it later, how could he ask for it here? God’s desire was never for the blood of Isaac. His desire was for the ultimate allegiance of Abraham.
  • Faith and obedience. If we obey God only when his command 1) makes sense to us and 2) we agree that it is good, then we are not really obeying God’s commands as an expression of trust in his wisdom and his character. Instead, we are merely complying with God’s requests only after he has justified himself at the bar of our own moral or intellectual understanding. Will we obey, or merely comply? Will he be the authority, or will we?
  • Faith and anguish. The life of radical faith and obedience will inevitably involve deep and real anguish. The life God calls us to is one that our flesh fundamentally opposes. Does your faith in God lead you to just a more comfortable life, free of the anguish of following him in a broken world? Or does it lead you to constantly wrestle with the values and assumptions of this world? Is there the struggle of anguish in your life of faith?
  • Faith and resurrection. The clip powerfully captures the fact that Abraham essentially receives Isaac back from the dead. The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:17-19) sees Abraham’s faith here as an outworking of his belief in resurrection: that God would even raise the dead to keep his promises.
  • Jesus. Abraham, the father of the faith, had to be willing to sacrifice his only son out of his covenantal devotion to God, but God, the Heavenly Father, actually did sacrifice his only Son out of his covenantal devotion to us.

Episode 2.  Moses & the Burning Bush

Moses' calling to face his past and deliver His people out of Egypt, Exodus 3:1-17

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Download the Discussion notes [.doc]

  • Encountering God. It is not by accident that Moses first meets God not in the midst of abundance and comfort, but in the midst of deep personal struggle and even despair. The sin of humanity in the Garden was seeking to be gods unto ourselves: self-worship and the delusion of human autonomy. When we discover the emptiness of these things and find ourselves confronted with our own weakness, need and sin, it is there that we will encounter God.
  • Power and weakness. Moses has failed in his attempt to do God’s work through human power and violence. Instead, in the wilderness, he is confronted with his weakness. In his encounter with God at the burning bush, he learns that it will be despite him that God will display his divine power. The Kingdom of God goes forward, not through the use of worldly power, but by utter reliance on the power of God. His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9, Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
  • The fire of God. Fire represents God’s presence throughout the Scriptures. It is an image of terrifying holiness, absolute purity and fierce judgment. Fire is also appropriate because on the one hand it is terrifying and dangerous and yet on the other hand it is beautiful and attractive. The glory and holiness of God is exactly like that. Terror and beauty. Danger and comfort. To lose either side of this tension is to lose the essence of God’s holiness.
  • Burning yet not consumed. How do we approach a God who is an all-consuming fire and yet is the very love that the human heart needs? For Christians, the answer is that Jesus took on our flesh and walked into the fire of God’s holiness and wrath on the cross. He was consumed by the judgment of God so that we might come freely to the Fire of God and not be consumed ourselves. We approach the throne of grace not by our own merits or faithfulness, but by his blood.

Contributed by:  Abe Cho, Assistant Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, NY