One of the things that I’ve never empathized with in the Old Testament was the child sacrifice. To level set, this type of sacrifice is not when a parent decides to take of their child off the ventilator and donate their organs to save lives. This type of sacrifice was to throw your child into a fire pit as a dedication to the god. The one we read about this week with Manasseh was actually introduced to Israel by King Solomon (1 Kings 11:7), even though it was a practice that God outlawed for His people to participate in (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35).
To me, honestly, it’s a whole other level of crazy. It’s not just because I’m a dad. This has been something that I’ve studied in graduate school because I desperately wanted to understand how a parent could sacrifice their son or daughter in the name of religion. Even more so when it was a different religion than the one they were born into and raised in.
As I studied this, I found that child sacrifice was a practice with religion back to a time around the life of Abraham. This led me to the story where God told (not asked) Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son he waited a very long time for (Genesis 22). Then with this historical context in mind, I started to read and understand the story of why God would have Abraham sacrifice differently. Although the story can be used to point to Jesus and how His Father sacrificed for the sins of the world, the story in the historical context is some different. We read it now as God interrupting a trembling, yet obedient dad and showing that He is unlike every other god Abraham has seen and worshiped. He is the one true God. He is someone that Abraham can follow, trust, and count on.
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