In my church, today is the Second Sunday of Lent, and, in the current cycle of readings, the Hebrew Scripture passage is from Genesis 22 about Abraham planning to but then not sacrificing his son Isaac.
The deacon who preached this morning pointed out that the Canaanites among whom Abraham lived practiced human sacrifice, specifically of children, so that, by telling Abraham not to kill Isaac, God was highlighting a difference between God and other gods that were of the contemporary culture.
He continued explaining that the prospect of the call to sacrifice Isaac is so disturbing that modern scholars decided to see how the ancient Jewish scholars interpreted the passage. The ancient understanding of this passage was that God did not want any killing in the name of God. Not just sacrificial killing, or killing of children, or killing of those of one’s own religious tradition, but any killing at all.
It is humbling and horrifying that the Abrahamic faiths did not heed this call over the millennia and into the present day. So many millions of lives lost “in the name of God” with more being added each day.
My prayer today is for the mercy of God and the universal recognition that we are called to peace, love, and respect for one another, not killing.