Abraham & Isaac: Did God Condone Murder?

Straight Talk

The Question

Why would a good God command Abraham to offer and kill his son Isaac? This would be tantamount to murdering his own son. Why would God allow murder in the world?

– GVA from Manila, Philippines

The Answer
Part 1: Allowing Murder
Part 2: Abraham & Isaac

Allowing Murder (Part 1)

There are two very different questions being asked here and they each have different answers. I’m going to answer the second one first (but not in depth) and get it out of the way. Why would God allow murder in the world?

God allows murder because of free will. Adam and Eve had a choice whether to commit that very first sin. Since they chose sin over obedience to God, a curse was introduced into the world. We live daily with its results all of our life. Because of their fall, we have an inclination to evil which we must fight. When we succumb to sin such as murder there are consequences both to ourselves and to others. God accepted Adam and Eve’s decision and then made a way to win back fellowship with man.

God allows the repercussions of sin to play out but he does provide a remedy and restoration through Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross. When we embrace what he did for us our sin is covered, yet our free will remains. Even when we are born again, we may make the choice to sin and God does not stop us. Our free will remains inviolate.

This is a good basis for beginning to answer your first question about Abraham and Isaac. You wonder why God would command Abraham to kill his son. Isn’t it murder? Yet, God did that very thing to HIS own son, didn’t he? It was his plan to sacrifice his son for the sin of the whole world. Do you realize there is a connection to the two events?

Abraham & Isaac (Part 2)

Though Abraham had no idea of it at the time, his willingness to obey God and sacrifice his own son Isaac was a prophetic revelation (or a “type”) of the death of Christ on the cross which was to come. God would willingly give up his son Jesus just as Abraham was being asked to give up Isaac.

Concerning Abraham, the “willingness” part was fulfilled and God held him back from actually going through with it. Abraham trusted God completely without knowing the reason behind the command. The New Testament gives us an insight into how he viewed it. “He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead.” (Hebrews 11:19) Abraham figured he would actually kill Isaac and then God would raise him back up.

Remember that Abraham was justified because of his faith. It was in the command to kill his God-given son of promise that his faith was tested and proven true. What could God have asked that would have been as difficult? Yet Father Abraham didn’t even hesitate and that is why he is considered the Father of Faith.

That may not yet answer for you why a “good” God would ask someone to commit murder. God’s goodness is not in conflict with everything else that he also is. God has perfect mercy yet he has perfect justice. He is also perfectly wise. As human beings, we see those things as either/or. We don’t know how it is possible to be ALL. But God is bigger than the little boxes we try to stuff him into.

Ultimately, like Abraham, we also have a faith choice to make. At times we don’t understand his ways but are we going to trust God anyhow? Out of our free will, we should choose YES because when the answers are ultimately revealed in eternity, we will want to be considered true sons and daughters of Father Abraham.