…to find a promise

If this passage were a place, it would be a bare clearing on a wooded hill. The air would feel stiller and heavier as you crossed it. Birds would refuse to fly over it, and small woodland creatures would come to the edge of the clearing only, before scuttling away into the shadows. And yet this dark place is holy ground for the three Abrahamic faiths…

For the past two months I have been preaching through the life of Abraham. Care to hazard a guess as to which episode from his life I am preaching on today?  I believe it is important for the preacher to fully acknowledge the extent to which some Biblical passages make us recoil. That said, it falls also to the preacher to find the shafts of God’s light in these dark places.

From this moment a thread of belief about the substitution of the one for the many begins to uncoil. It will surface again in a valley called Achor (Joshua 7), it will be there in the background when a desperate man makes a foolish vow in Judges 11. It will be heard on the lips of Jewish martyrs who died in the reign of Antiochus Ephipanes. It will show itself as a man on a cross calls for forgiveness for those who nailed him there, and one of his later disciples will write to his friends about it in years to come (Romans 3 v. 25). Strangely enough , it will surface again when survivors stumble like human shadows from the hell of the concentration camps.  Jewish scholars will use this same concept – they have survived on behalf of the many just as one might die on behalf of the many.

Even in the darkest place, there is a shaft of God’s light to be seen…

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