It is through our unwavering trust and fear in God that he/she is able to truly recognize our faith and deem us righteous or wicked. The near sacrifice of Isaac is undoubtedly the toughest test for Abraham to prove himself to God. The son that Abraham had longed for all his life and whom God finally provided for him was to be killed by Abraham, himself, as a sacrifice. Abraham intending to obey this seemingly merciless and unreasonable request from God was indubitably his most relevant showing ofloyaltyand trust.
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The submission of Isaac to his father is symbolic of the death of Jesus Christ, who died with complete trust in God knowing that he died for our sins (Malaty 28). The trust that Isaac shows in Abraham is synonymous with the trust that Abraham shows in God. Just as Isaac trusted that Abraham was doing what was best for him, Abraham knows that God would not steer him in the wrong direction. God consistently rewards the abandonment of natural human reason when obeying a request of his/hers. As is reflected in Dei Verbum, ” The obedience of faith” (Rom. 3: 26; see 1: 5; 2 Cor 10: 5-6) is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God… ” (Pope Paul VI 55). Therefore God is characterized in Genesis as knowing what is best for humankind even though his/her methodology is somewhat random and selective (Malaty 39). God says to Abraham after he stops him from killing Isaac, ” for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Genesis 22: 12). Throughout Genesis the theme of fear in God is Just as prevalent as trust in God.
During his travels Abraham encounters the Pharaoh of the Egyptians and King Abimelech of Gerar. He realizes that both kingdoms have no fear in God and that they will surely kill him in order to take his wife. By telling both the Pharaoh and the King that Sarai is his sister, he protects both kingdoms as well as himself. At first it may appear that Abraham is acting sly or deceitful towards these seemingly innocent rulers. However, it becomes more and more clear that Abraham does not aim to trick or deceive, he simply gives these rulers an opportunity to act morally or immorally in he eyes of God, who in turn can deem them righteous or wicked.
Abraham states to King Abimelech, ” l did it because I thought, there is no fear of God at all in this place and they will kill me because of my wife. ” (Genesis 20: 11). By lying about his wife, he allows God to instill fear into the rulers of both Kingdoms, and in doing so protects the lives of all the members of their lands. God uses fear as a tool to implant faith into his/her followers. When Abraham is sleeping, ” a terrifying darkness descended upon him” (Genesis 1 5: 12) and God notifies him of the oppression that his ancestors ill endure.
By instilling this sense of terror, God is able to form a bond of trust in his/her followers, which might otherwise go ignored. It can be perceived that God is scaring people in order to get what he/she wants. I look at it from the perspective of God using fear in order to make people realize that he/she is the one true God. And once people come to this realization that he is the father almighty, he has gained their unwavering trust and devotion, as seen through Abraham. He/she does the same with Sarah when telling her that in her old age she will bear a child.
She laughs at this and says, ” After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure? ” He/she questions her laughter and says, ” Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? ” (Genesis 18: 12-14). Sarah denied her laughter out of fear of God, and through this exchange she realizes that nothing is too powerful or great for the Lord to accomplish. As such is demonstrated during his dealings with the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by God was due to their lack of faith. They acted wickedly and had no fear of God, which nevitably led to their demise.
God acts Justly in his/her decision to destroy the cities. God believes that trust between him/her and his/her followers is crucial and that it must be mutual. Therefore before burning the cities, God makes Abraham aware of his plan as not to deceive him. The Lord states, ” Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed by him? No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing ighteousness and Justice. (Genesis 18: 17-19). God is aware that Abraham is to be father of many great nations. He/she realizes that if he/she wants these nations to be moral, dignified lands full of righteous and honorable humans, that Godself must not formulate the foundations of these new nations with deceit and duplicity. Abraham and the Lord negotiate the terms of the destruction and God agrees that no innocent people shall be harmed. After the two angels sent by God realize that no one in the cities is worthy of salvation, the cities are obliterated and only Lot and his two aughters are saved.
While in many other books of the Old Testament, God can be seen as vindictive and hypocritical, it is obvious that God is characterized in Genesis as fair and trustworthy. He notifies Abraham of his plans, forming a mutual trust with him, and saves hisfamilyfrom the destruction. It is important to God not only that his followers act morally but also that he/she holds himself/herself to the same standards. Dei Verbum states, ” To this people which He had acquired for Himself, He so manifested Himself through words and deeds as the one true and living God that
Israel came to know by experience the ways of God with men. ” (Pope Paul VI 514). God realizes that in order to make the covenant witn Abraham last he/she nas to esta himself/herself through his actions as the one true God. Acting deceitfully or immorally would undoubtedly Jeopardize that. It is obvious throughout Genesis 11-22 that God looks favorably upon those who show him/her fear, and uses fear as a tool to instill a mutual trust between him/her and his/her followers. Fear and trust go hand and hand in the eyes of God and this is demonstrated through the characters in Genesis.
Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac, the obedience of Pharaoh and King Abimelech, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah all exemplify this claim. This might cause one to wonder why God must test his subjects’ fear if he/she is indeed all knowing. If God already knows that he/ she trusts someone or that this individual fears God, it would appear that he/she tests him/her solely in order to gain their trust. As I stated, trust and fear are synonymous throughout Genesis and God emphasizes their significance while formulating his/her Judgments of certain individuals and nations.