One Bible story about Roots
The story that runs through the entire Bible is the story of the relationship between two groups of human beings. One group is the group God chose as the channel for a lot of his blessing to the other group.
The God-group was not there at the beginning of the story. It came later, after humans had shown that we do not learn the lessons that history teaches. We can't get ourselves to obey God even when we have plenty of historical evidence about the punishments that disobedient people receive.
The God-group was created as a new phase in God's strategy. Instead of rules and punishments, which weren't working, God introduced a more positive strategy. He would set up his own group to show other groups what happens when a group trusts God more than it trusts its own desires and its own knowledge.
Abraham, the patriarch of the God-group is famous as that kind of a person. God does not start him out with a command him to bless other people and nations. The first command is for him to make himself vulnerable! He is supposed to leave his homeland and go to a land God will show him, trusting God all the way.
Why would he take that risk? Because of the promise God made at the same time, a promise that all families on earth would be blessed through whole tribes and nations that would come from him. One of those nations would become the "God-group," the center of God's strategy. He promised to bless those who blessed it and curse those who cursed it. (Genesis 12.1-3)
Those are the roots of the God-group that he created to bless all groups. In the Abraham story the key to a relationship with God is not submission, understanding, and not even love. It is raw trust in God's strategy and promises, shown in risky action.
Of the many stories we have about Abraham (Genesis 11.27 - 25.8), his trust is most obvious in the following story about "sacrificing" his son Isaac. It sets the Roots Rhythm for us.
The "sacrifice" of Isaac by his father Abraham
Genesis 22.1-18, The Message
1 After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, “Abraham!”
“Yes?” answered Abraham. “I’m listening.”
2 He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.”
3-5 Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants and his son Isaac. He had split wood for the burnt offering. He set out for the place God had directed him. On the third day he looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham told his two young servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together.
7 Isaac said to Abraham his father, “Father?”
“Yes, my son.”
“We have flint and wood, but where’s the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “Son, God will see to it that there’s a sheep for the burnt offering.” And they kept on walking together.
9-10 They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son.
11 Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes, I’m listening.”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.”
13 Abraham looked up. He saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That’s where we get the saying, “On the mountain of God, he sees to it.”
15-18 The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: “I swear—God’s sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you—oh, how I’ll bless you! And I’ll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.”
The "sacrifice" of Isaac by his father Abraham
(same story as above, but in the New Living Translation)
1 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together,7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”