A test of faith indeed!

April 16, 2022

Genesis 1:1-2:4a [The Story of Creation] | Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13 [The Flood] | Genesis 22:1-18 [Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac] | Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 [Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea] | Isaiah 55:1-11 [Salvation offered freely to all] | Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 [Learn wisdom and live] | Ezekiel 36:24-28 [A new heart and a new spirit] | Ezekiel 37:1-14 [The valley of dry bones] | Zephaniah 3:14-20 [The gathering of God’s people] | Romans 6:3-11 | Psalm 114 |Luke 24:1-12

“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 …”  Genesis 22:2

As I read these words, I find myself thinking about war. They have led me to ask, “Why would God instruct Abraham to sacrifice his only son, the still young child through whom he had promised to make him the father of myriad nations? How would killing Isaac make it possible for Abraham’s seed to multiply into generations of men and women?” 

A test of faith indeed! But what was this test really about? Perhaps, I thought, it was God’s way to remind every generation’s elders to be mindful of from which altar, to which battlefields and for which causes they may send their children off to war.

Today, I believe we are witnessing the ways two nations are responding to this test. How can we know, through the language of their behaviors, which is answering it in a way God might expect of them? 

I see that it is not just the youth in Ukraine who are sacrificing themselves in order to protect their children and their hoped-for future generations. I also see their leaders and elders, both men and women, putting themselves in death’s way even as they sound the call to action. I also see a single, autocratic, man, safe from the battlefield who hides his true motives and merciless orders from his people and from those he sends to fight and die in his war.

I cannot believe that God ever wants any of his people to wage war. But I do believe God would understand. I do not believe it surprises God that Ukraine would take up arms to defend itself.

I also believe I must ask, “Where will we find the ram that God will provide in the thicket of this conflict?” I am certain that God expects me to pray for the courageous people of Ukraine and for the ordinary, unaware people of Russia. I believe I am expected to hope for a miraculous transformation of Vladimir Putin … and … for justice for his victims and for the judgement that only God can bring upon those who fail the test.

Mike Cerullo