Discover more from M.A. Franklin's Bluster and Brine
Human Sacrifice is the Most Natural Thing in the World
But Abraham's prevented sacrifice of Isaac was the beginning of Western civilization
When God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah, why does Abraham not flinch at this? Why does he go about this task as if he expected to be called upon to kill his son?
Because Abraham expected to be called upon to kill his son. All of the other gods of the land demanded child sacrifice. Men greedy for bigger flocks, abundant crops, more sons, and more power were sacrificing their firstborn sons on high places all over the land. Men who founded a city and sealed its foundations with innocent blood. Many sons had probably already been sacrificed on Mount Moriah.
Child sacrifice was normal. It wasn't remarkable that a god would ask a man to sacrifice a firstborn son. It was, however, remarkable that a god would stay his hand at the crucial moment. According to Hebrews 11:19, Abraham thought God would raise Isaac from the dead. But Abraham fully intended to sacrifice Isaac on that altar. It’s what you did to appease the gods.
The Beginning of a New World
Abraham was not a greedy man, like the others sacrificing their children. He was already old. He had no reasonable expectation of more children. By doing this, by obeying, he had the potential to lose everything. But he had faith. He believed Isaac would be restored to him. He simply trusted and obeyed.
And a new world was born.
God used an expected pattern to lead Abraham in another direction. And so began the destruction of cultic paganism that had enslaved the world. An angel staying the hand of Abraham was the first step in a long journey of unlearning for the human race. God would continue to work through Abraham's descendants to cure them of their idolatry and dependence on graven images. There were, of course, lots of ups and downs.
Excising the Cancer
Idolatry always tends toward the demonic. Human sacrifice and ritual sex were potent drugs that gave the illusion of control. They were cancers that would corrupt until the practitioners were no longer human.
When Israel came back to Canaan after their bondage in Egypt, the Canaanites had gotten worse. And idolatry is contagious. These cancers can spread from soul to soul like a virus, which is why God had Israel drive out the Canaanites. Later on, an Israelite would rebuild Jericho and sacrifice two of his sons to do so.
And guess what? Human sacrifice and ritual sex are still are potent drugs.
Every day, people sacrifice their children for the promise of wealth and security. Some still do it with religious fervor. They crave that same illusion of control that the men of old desired when they slayed their children on mountaintops. We have systematized it. We have made it more efficient than the ancients ever could have dreamed of.
But our reasoning is similar and comes from the same source: the desire to be as gods and forge our own security and prosperity. We come up with smarter sounding names, like overpopulation, climate change, inequality, and food security, wrapping our evil desires in pretended altruism.
Though sometimes the curtain is drawn back and we get a flash of our blood-drenched hands. We admit that abortion is a sacrifice for raw personal gain. Like Michelle Williams saying her trophy would not be possible without laying her child on the altar.
To stop our blood-drunk tottering near the egdge of the cliff, will require another radical moment of divine intervention and faith. It will require trusting in the blood of the only human sacrifice that actually offers salvation and security: the blood of Jesus.
Because human sacrifice is the most natural thing in the world. Without adequate safeguards, mankind will resort to it again and again and again.