From this Wednesday on, we will learn Paul’s letters in the Bible. Yesterday and today I read all his letters through. They were much more difficult than Jesus’ words or the Old Testament, because they were sent between those who were intelligent. Paul had been highly educated before he followed Christ, and he sent his letters to the leaders of newly established Church in Italy, Greece, etc.
Through his letters he insisted repeatedly, “Abraham was justified by God because of his faith, not manners.” I searched where in the Old Testament it was described, which took me yet a pretty long time, for I thought it were written after the incident that Abraham was asked by God to offer his only son Isaac as a Sacrifice, in the Genesis, Chap 22.
Abraham followed His order and took his innocent son to the mountain. It might have been the saddest hiking for Abraham. Moreover his son, who knew nothing, asked him “Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”, which might increase his pain in the heart.
God must have found Abraham’s faith in such obedience of his and justified him – so I thought.
But wait, it is indeed the “manner” of Abraham to obey his Lord. Paul wrote it was not what to be justified.
At last I found the exact description in Genesis 15, a lot before the Isaac’s incident.
The episode was quite simple. Only the Lord promised him many offsprings. And Abraham (still called Abram) did nothing but believe His word, that He would give the old man offsprings.
Abraham did not any dramatic performance. He just believed God’s promise, so he was justified, exactly as Paul wrote.
So what was the meaning of His demand for his son as a sacrifice?
Many people in the later era explain that the incident should foretell that God Himself would offer His only Son as the sacrifice. Yes, I think God showed Abram the future incident and perhaps made him aware the pain of the Father to sacrifice His Son, and promised He should do it to save human offsprings in the future.
And it’s surprising that Paul knew the Old Testament very well.