Abraham is called to sacrifice Isaac: Laughter becomes slaughter

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Abraham Sacrifices Isaac. Oil/Herbert Mandel

About this series: A narrative exploring the stories behind the paintings of late artist Herbert Mandel as explained in the context of the Biblical texts they’re derived from, by his son-in-law, Jim Robidoux.


Since my father-in-law, Herb Mandel, died in 2016, we have wondered how to make best use of the 200 or so oil paintings he left us with – many of them Biblical. My wife has tasked me with writing the words to help explain the stories that inspired my father-in-law to paint them so vividly.

Abraham Sacrifices Issac

God tested Abraham and Isaac, and both proved to be compliant, even unto death. How could Abraham’s God Yahweh require Isaac to be a burnt offering? Abraham hears God’s calling to this terrible mission. He goes to bed and gets up early the next morning and for three days he and his small group are carrying out God’s will.

For three days and nights, Abraham is following God’s instructions, and tells no one that Isaac must die. Isaac will be sacrificed and Abraham will probably die soon after, of a broken heart.

Isaac was miraculously born to his 90-year-old mother, Sarah. Isaac is her only child, and Abraham was 100 years old. Both laughed at God, who said this old couple would have a son. God instructed them to name him Isaac, which means laughter, and he asked them both, “Is anything too hard for the Almighty?”

Once Abraham and Isaac have the altar built and everything ready, Abraham binds Isaac with rope and lays his teenage son on the wood. Just before his knife finds its mark, God calls down from heaven, “Do not harm the boy or lay a hand on him.”

This test was then complete. Abraham and Isaac passed with flying colors. No bloody sacrifice burnt to a crisp was necessary. For God sees the heart of Abraham in this moment, and just as Abraham said to Isaac, “Yaweh will provide the lamb,”  God did provide – by sending his one and only son to be crushed like a grape and die in our place.

Our Father –  through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – bore a family all His own, God’s chosen people Israel. And Israel birthed Jesus, the Passover lamb, who takes away the sins of the world. Laughter became slaughter to make a way for the hereafter.


Other installments

Jonah swalloed by a whale

The Story of the prophet Elijah, Jezebel and King Ahab


 

Jim Robidoux is father of four, lives and works in Manchester, and writes about life in The Life Section – specifically, his own. He enjoys bicycling to work, urban gardening, exploring his Christian faith, and watching the Phillies at Billy’s. And he happens to be married to Manchester Ink Link editor Carol Robidoux. He can be reached at jrmetalman@comcast.net.