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International Bible Lessons Commentary

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Protecting Our Children and Abraham’s Sacrifice — Genesis 22:1-14

Today, we sometimes hear or read about someone who claims God told them to kill their children. I will not go into details. As Christians and Bible teachers, we need to be prepared to tell others that the LORD would never command anyone to kill their children. And we need to be able to explain Abraham and Isaac and the LORD’s commands against child sacrifices.

I believe that when the LORD told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a test of his faith, Abraham deeply believed and understood that the LORD would not make him sacrifice his son. Three reasons come to mind (I am sure there are more):

First, the LORD had made a promise to Abraham that Isaac would bear him children and Isaac had not yet done so. Abraham knew God would never break a promise.

Second, though the Law had not yet been given to Moses (or Abraham), because Abraham had walked by faith in the LORD, I think he understood that God would never require a child sacrifice because such a sacrifice would be contrary to the loving, just, and merciful moral character of the LORD. In any event, when the LORD commanded Abraham to stop and not sacrifice Isaac and provided a substitute ram instead, this came to illustrate that the LORD forbids child sacrifices.

Later, when the LORD gave the Law to Moses, He commanded specifically: “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:21—KJV) or “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:21—NIV). People profane God’s NAME, God’s moral character, when they claim to believe in God and sacrifice or abuse a child for any reason.

By the time of Jeremiah, the Israelites had begun sacrificing so many children as a common practice that the LORD led Jeremiah to condemn the practice once again. Jeremiah seems to say that God is so holy that He never ever even thought of requiring someone to murder their children (or abuse them) in His Name or to worship Him! “And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin” (Jeremiah 32:35—KJV). “They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin” (Jeremiah 32:35—NIV).

Third, the shortest reason is “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). By abusing children, people can “murder” a child in many ways: psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

We cannot expect those who do not believe the Bible and trust God to act as those who do believe the Bible and trust God (at least believers know how they should act). If more and more people turn from God and the Bible as their guide for life, we should expect increasing abuse and increasing numbers of abused and murdered children. The only places the Bible and the true character of God can be taught rightly today are in our churches, home Bible study groups, home schools, and Christian schools and colleges. The Bible and the Christian faith cannot be taught in many places where it is most needed to be taught. Many oppose the legislation of Christian morality, preferring to impose their owe moral standards on society; therefore, until more and more people learn about and voluntarily choose to live according to God’s ways, we should expect more abuse of children. I do not mean this to be discouraging, but to show the vital importance of what you do each week when you study and teach the Bible.

Let us pray for all the children of the world, for their parents, and for those who teach the Bible about Jesus Christ and His gracious loving power to save us from our sins and protect us and our loved ones As Christians and teachers, we have the Bible, the Holy Spirit and the power of God to make a saving difference in our world and the lives of many.

Bible study and prayer help us continue to grow spiritually and live more effectively as Christians. In addition to the International Bible Lessons Commentary and the International Bible Lessons Forum, you will find the International Prayer Lessons helpful as we study together The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence by Andrew Murray and Brother Lawrence using the FREE audio book chapter-by-chapter.

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May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

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Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God's Word and His people,
L.G.
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