In Gen. 20, King Abimelech makes the same mistake that the Pharaoh earlier did – but he acted honorably. God protects Abraham even when he acts poorly. Isaac is finally born in Gen. 21, and Hagar and Ishmael are sent off into the desert – but God watches over them.
Genesis 22 is one of the hardest passages in the Bible. God says to Abraham, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ What kind of command is that? After all that time and God’s promise of a son for Abraham and Sarah, what is God up to? There is no easy answer. First, we must say that God very specifically prohibits child sacrifice in the Bible. As far as I know, this is the only time God has asked anyone to do this. Second, God is testing Abraham, and does not let him go through with it. Instead, God provides a substitute – a ram. Third, remember that later God offered his own Son as a willing sacrifice for us and our salvation, and before that, the suffering servant of Isaiah also sacrifices himself for others. Canonically speaking, this story may be a preview of things to come in God’s plan. In any case, when Abraham passes the test of fear of God – honor, respect, and obedience – God blesses him and his descendants again.
Jesus says, “You cannot serve both God and wealth.” Wealth is a dominant idol in society today. Jesus calls us to set aside wealth and focus our attention and intention on God. Set aside anxiety over earthly wants and needs, and set your heart on loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. “Strive first for the kingdom of God and [God’s] righteousness,” and the cares and concerns of life will take care of themselves. Do not worry about tomorrow – or yesterday. Live your life today. Your neighbor needs you. God needs you. You need you.