Students sitting outside Bockman
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Monday, June 26, 2017

What we have in this well-known story of the sacrifice of Isaac is an account filled with irony, yet profound spiritual truth. We can assume that Abraham, even though living centuries before the Ten Commandments were given, knew that murder was contrary to God's good will. Yet, in response to the living voice of God, Abraham subsumed the commandment and obeyed God. Even a deep love for his precious son did not stand between Abraham and obeying God. Soren Kierkegaard, in his book, Fear and Trembling, called this obedience to God a "temporary suspension of the ethical." Rules, commandments and laws are important guidelines for shaping life responsibly and faithfully; yet, there are times and circumstances, extreme for sure, when responding to the living voice of God means subsuming the commandment and suspending the ethical. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's decision to become involved in the conspiracy to kill Hitler was--for him--such a suspension. Difficult, but necessary.

We give you thanks, Lord God, for your gracious commandments, intended to nurture our lives and guide our discipleship. Yet, O God, help us to be ever attentive to your living voice, as well. Help us, through the ambiguities of life to follow your lead, through laws and conscience, and through your still small voice. Amen.

John Matthews, '82
Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, Apple Valley, Minn.

Genesis 22:1-14 (NRSV)

1 After these things God tested Abraham. He 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 that I shall show you."
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.
4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away.
5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you."
6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.
7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
8 Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.
11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 So Abraham called that place "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.