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email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

TALK ON THE HISTORY OF

MANKIND AND THE CHURCH
PART 1

8th November 2007

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 FROM ADAM TO ABRAHAM


T
oday we are going to begin a journey into history, a history based on the Holy Bible which begins with the history of mankind, not according to science, but according to the Holy Spirit which inspired the holy men of the Old and New testament to put in writing the beginnings of creation and mankind, God’s relationship with his creation and how slowly he guides man to the realization of salvation and eternal life. To make a study of the whole of the Old Testament would mean many weeks of talks so we will limit ourselves to the more important personages and those events which the Church sees as pre-figurations of events in the New Testament. According to the Church we are in the year of our Lord 2007 or in the year 7507 or according to others 7516 from the creation of the world. In other words the creation of the world happened in 5500 or 5509 BC. This brings about a great dilemma because according to science the world is billions of years in age. So who is correct, can the Church be so indifferent to scientific facts. The bible tells us that God created the world in six days. Now of course the Lord, being all powerful could have created the world in one day or even in an instant. Instead of saying let there be light, he could have commanded “ Let there be the world and the entire world would have come into creation. But God’s all wisdom desired to create the world in six days, he is the creator, the reasons are his and not ours to question. Now when Holy Scripture says six days “ and there was evening and there was morning, the first day, and the second day and the third day and so on, it does not say that these days were solar days, containing twenty four hours, for the sun had not yet appeared to separate the days from the nights. The sun appeared on the fourth day. Thus these days are not 24 hour days as we have today, but rather they were very long periods of time possibly hundreds, thousands or millions of years. What scripture calls days are not the days of our daily life, but entire centuries for as we hear in the Psalms “ For a thousand years in thy sight are as the yesterday which is past and as a watch in the night.” (Ps. 89.4) The year 7507 might then come to mean the year when God created Adam. But this creates another question. Do we as Orthodox Christians take the Genesis account of Adam and Eve literally, or are they figurative characters? Was there an Adam or does he just represent mankind in general. If we only had The Old Testament account of the creation of man without nothing else to support it, then it would be very easy to say that Adam was a figurative character, but there is reference to Adam in the New Testament which for me is a solid proof that Adam was a genuine person and not only that, but that he was the son of God. In the Holy Gospel according to St Luke (3:23-38), we find the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ which begins: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi,…” and ending “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” What we have here is a genealogy of Jesus’ ancestry right back to Adam which is proof that Adam was indeed a real person and not a representation of mankind. Adam’s genealogy is of course mentioned in the Old Testament in much more detail as also his children’s generations. The theory of evolution has so many faults that even scientists between themselves cannot agree to the age of the earth or how man came into existence. Darwin’s theory that we evolved from the apes has been disproved only to be replaced with other theories just as far fetched as Darwin’s. In spite of this the first chapter of Genesis does seem to have a striking agreement with science. This is shown by the fact that at least 11 great events are enumerated in the same order as claimed by modern science: 1. The earth was "waste without form and void"; 2. "Darkness was upon the face of the deep"; 3. Light appears; 4. A clearing expanse, or firmament; 5. The elevation of the land and the formation of the seas; 6. the appearance of Grass, herbs and fruit trees; 7. The sun, moon and stars appear; 8. Marine animals were created; 9. "Winged fowls" were created; 10. Land animals were created; 11. Man was created. The chance of guessing the exact order of these 11 great events is ascertained by the law of permutations--the product of the numbers from 1 to 11, which is apparently 39,916,800. Therefore, Moses, who is the author of Genesis, had one chance out of 39,916,800 to guess the correct order of these 11 great events, as revealed both by science and revelation. If Moses did not have the order revealed to him, he never could have guessed it. Therefore, he was inspired and was told the order. This mathematical demonstration annihilates the contradicting theory of evolution. At once it proves that the account was divinely inspired, and man came by special creation and not by evolution.
Of the four Evangelist, only two write about the genealogy of Christ: Luke who we have already mentioned and Matthew. Mathew begins the genealogy from Abraham while Luke goes back to Adam the first man. Before looking at the Old Testament personages I think it is important to look more closely at Christ’s genealogy.
Hearing or reading a long catalogue of unknown and very often strange sounding names, it is understandable if someone just skips that part of the Gospel and goes directly to the birth of Christ. But the genealogy is in fact very important and is a point in time that joins the Old Testament with the New Testament. When Matthew wrote the Gospel he had in mind mostly the Jewish Christians, that is, those Christians who converted from Judaism and had as his main purpose to show that Jesus Christ was the expected and long awaited Messiah. Now according to the prophets, the Messiah had to be a descendant of Abraham and King David and also belong to the tribe of Judah. Judah was one of the Patriarch Jacob’s sons. Judah was singled out from Jacob’s twelve sons by Jacob himself to be the inheritor of the Messianic promise and that from his descendants, the Messiah would descend according to his human nature. When Jacob was on his deathbed, he called his sons to him to give them his blessing. When Judah came up to him he said: “Judah, thy brethren have praised thee, and thy hands shall be on the back of thine enemies; thy father’s sons shall do thee reverence… A ruler shall not fail from Judah nor a prince from his loins until there come the things stored up for him, and he is the expectation of nations.” (Gen. 49: 8-10)
The Evangelist Matthew shows that Jesus Christ is the Messiah of whom the Prophets of the Old Testament talk about, not only with the genealogy but also by continually pointing to verses from the prophets which refer to events in Christ’s life. He repeatedly says: “That the scripture may be fulfilled which was spoken of by the prophet.” In this way he closes the mouths of the Jews who accused the Jews who accepted Christ that they had abandoned the faith of their fathers. This continual referral to the Old Testament was for the first Jewish Christians satisfaction and proof to their accusers that truly they hadn’t abandoned the faith of their fathers, but followed the fulfilment of this faith. Now although Matthew and Luke begin from different starting points, that is, Matthew from Abraham and Luke from Adam, they both conclude that Jesus is the son of Joseph. We of course know that Jesus doesn’t have a father in the flesh. But only a mother: the Virgin Mary. Using Joseph’s genealogy was a necessity because according to Judaic law it was impossible to show a genealogy from a woman. But as we shall see further on, Joseph’s family tree is the same as Mary’s because they are closely related. Both Evangelists are in agreement on the names of Christ’s ancestors from Abraham up to King David. From David onwards there seems to be some sort of disagreement in the names. Matthew mentions the genealogy from David’s son Nathan and concludes with Joseph being the son of Jacob. Luke on the other hand mentions the genealogy from David’s son Solomon and again concludes with Joseph’s father who he mentions is named Heli. So who is Joseph’s father – Jacob or Heli? Although there seems to be some confusion here, they are in fact both correct. Both Heli and Jacob are his fathers. Heli and Jacob were stepbrothers, they had the same mother but different fathers. Heli died childless and according to Judaic law, Jacob being Heli’s brother was obliged to take to wife Heli’s widow. From this union Joseph was born. Matthew therefore, wrote Joseph’s genealogy according to his physical father and Luke wrote the genealogy according to his lawful father, because according to the law Jacob’s wife was still regarded as being the wife of his brother who died.
Jacob had four children of which we know, Joseph, Mary the mother of Salome, Soven, the mother of Elizabeth, and Anna the mother of the Virgin Mary. Thus Joseph, the husband of Mary and Anna her mother were brother and sister, which means that Joseph was Mary’s uncle. Joseph’s genealogy was the same as Mary’s from her mother’s side but the Evangelists could not use Mary’s genealogy as it was forbidden by the law.

What is worth noticing in the genealogy is that here and there women’s names have been purposely slipped in, the Evangelists mention the names of Rachab, Thamar, Ruth and the wife of Urias. These are interesting entries because Rachab was a prostitute, Ruth was a Moabite, a nation especially hated by the Jews and Urias’ wife, Bathsheba, was an adulteress, and gave birth to Solomon with her husband’s friend King David. Thamar was Judah’s daughter in law and when her husband died without leaving a child, she was taken to wife by the second son Onan who also died childless. Judah promised Thamar that when his younger son was old enough he would give him to her according to law. When his son did grow up, Judah was afraid to give him to Thamar lest the same fate also befall upon his younger son. When some time passed, Thamar realized that Judah was not going to give her his son, so one day she dressed up as a prostitute and fooled Judah to sleep with her and she became pregnant.
The introduction of these women’s names to the genealogy can be considered unsuitable for Christ’s genealogy because one was of another religion and race and the other three were guilty of grave sins. But their introduction to the genealogy of the Messiah was done with a cause. Firstly it shows that Christ’s ancestors were not all holy people – they were free, like all people to live their lives according to their own free will. Some lived virtuously and others lived in sin. Secondly, by mentioning Ruth, who was a stranger, it confirms that Christ, who had non Jewish blood running through his veins, did not come only for the Jews but for every nation. And thirdly, it shows that Christ had sinful “relatives” and if he came to judge us, then that would mean that he would also have to judge his very own ancestors, his very own bloodline. But to the contrary, He didn’t come as a judge, but as a physician to cure us from the infirmities of sin and from the consequences of man’s fall.

The genealogy then is very important because not only does it cement together the Old and New Testament but confirms that Adam was a real person and everything in the Old Testament and the New testament happened because of Adam, our whole faith, everything we believe in is based on the fact that Adam was created in God’s image and likeness and then through original sin and the fall, he lost or distorted that divine image. The whole of the Bible the Old and New Testaments is an account of God’s promise to save man from the fall and to restore in him once again the image of God. The word testament or the Greek Diathiki means a covenant, an agreement or promise. We find this covenant between God and man throughout scripture as for example: “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram.” (Gen. 15: 18), “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD.” (Jer. 31:31).

There are many such verses from scripture which refer to the promise God made with man. There is in fact a promise of salvation from immediately after God asked Eve what she had done and she replied that the serpent deceived her and she did eat. God then tells the devil: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:16) The Church refers to this as the “Proto-Evangelio”, the first Gospel or the first Good news. The woman in mention is the Virgin Mary whose offspring Jesus Christ will crush Satan’s head, but at the same time Satan will bruise his heel which is a reference to Christ’s crucifixion. Christ will conquer the Devil and save man, but for this, He Himself must suffer. Satan deceived the first woman Eve, but through another woman Satan would be crushed. So now let’s begin to see how God slowly prepares mankind to receive salvation, how he teaches him how to live, giving him laws on everything to make him understand right from wrong, good from evil, divine from diabolical. I’m sure you all know the story of Adam and Eve and how they fell from God’s grace. We talked about it at our very first talk last year so we shouldn’t use our time today to re-explain the consequences of this fall. It is enough to just say that the fall resulted in man’s complete separation and alienation from God. The divine image which he was granted as the first and chief charisma became distorted, it was darkened to such a degree that man’s mind was unable to distinguish easily between good and evil. Man’s heart became corrupted and wicked so that he desired and enjoyed wicked things and his will had an irresistible inclination towards evil and sin.
Adam we are told lived nine hundred and thirty years and had very many sons and daughters. His son Seth lived nine hundred and twelve years. His son Enos lived nine hundred and five years. In fact everyone lived almost to a thousand years. This was man’s lifespan up to Noah’s time. So what happened that now we rarely reach the age of eighty? Man had no moral laws to guide him how to live and behave. He lived more like an animal than like the man whom God created in his image. If a man saw a woman who appealed to him sexually, he just took her into his abode and they began to cohabitate. Women responded to this in the same undisciplined way. Up until Noah’s time the races that descended from the Sons of Adam, Cain and Seth, lived separately. Those who descended from Righteous Seth were considered sons of God because they lived somewhat piously and those from Cain who killed his own brother were called sons of men because they had totally abandon God. The Bible tells us that at some point during Noah’s time, there began to be a mixing of these two races, the good and the bad. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.(Gen. 6: 2-3) As a first punishment the Lord said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Gen. 6: 4) So here we have a drastic reduction in man’s lifespan, which was in fact not to punish him but to make him aware that death will come and that he should repent and change his ways. By living a thousand years men probably thought that they were almost immortal, but now with only 100 or 120 years of life, death would approach must sooner forcing man to remember death and turn to God for salvation. Now as a result of this mixing of the good and bad bloods, a deformity developed and their children became oversized or as is said in the Bible: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”(Gen. 6: 5) “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”(Gen. 6: 6-9) “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 6: 10) “But everything else was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.” (Gen. 6: 12-20)

The flood is a fact. It happened in 3250BC. We have many historical facts and folklore traditions from many nations that thousands of years ago there was a flood that covered the face of the earth. These sources are not always Judaic of Christian in origin. In Cyprus for example we celebrate together with the Feast of Pentecost the Festival of the Cataclysm (Cataclysmos) which means a disastrous flood. It was a pagan festival celebrated in Cyprus before Christian times to ward off another flood. When Cyprus became Christian the pagan feast was replaced with the Christian feast of Pentecost, but it left behind traces of its origin. In 1850 archaeological digs in Old Nineveh, the Capital of Assyria, brought to light many tablets of Assyrian sphenoidal writing which were taken to London. In 1872 George Smith presented at the Archaeological Museum translations of these writings which referred to the Great Flood. The Daily Telegraph paid him then 100 guineas for the exclusive. Within eight days he produced more writings which also referred to the Flood. After this, there followed Babylonian writings which mention the building of the Ark and a Sumerian version of the Flood.

There is no question that Archaeology has unravelled a historical fact and confirms that the Biblical account of the flood is true. The flood is also a new starting point for mankind. With the whole world destroyed, except for Noah and his family, humanity begins again with the hope of living a more righteous life. If we were to divide the Book of Genesis into parts, we would say that the first part ends with Noah. The second part deals with the beginnings of the Jewish Nation as the Chosen people and follows their progress. It must be said that From Noah to Abram mankind again fell away from God and there is no one living who believed in the one True God. People had become idolaters believing in and worshipping pagan gods. So the second part of Genesis begins with the story of Abram, a man singled out because he didn’t believe in all the pagan gods worshipped by his people. He believed that there must be only one God who was invisible. His faith in one God was accounted unto him as righteousness and God called and said unto him “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” (Gen. 12: 1-5)

What faith Abram must have had to believe God and leave his home and relatives o start anew in a strange land. He was seventy five years old and was childless, his wife was not only barren but well past the age to be able to conceive yet he did not question God when he promised him that from him would come a great nation. He is an example of obedient faith and for this God made a covenant with him that he would be the father of many nations. We have a lot to say about Abraham because he is regarded as the father of the Jewish people through whom would descent the Messiah and Saviour of the world. The first important event in Abraham’s life is his meeting with Melchizedek king of Salem who brought forth bread and wine: “and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” (Gen. 14: 18-20) Now as to him being the priest of the most high God, who ordained him a priest? We have mentioned before this Melchizedek. Where did he come from, he appears out of nowhere and Abraham gives him a tenth of everything he had? St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews says this of Melchizedek: “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” (Heb. 7: 1-4) Melchizedek is therefore an image and type of Christ the true high priest. The Levitical or Jewish priesthood was given to Aaron and his descendants and is termed the order of Aaron. Christ’s priesthood is called according to the order of Melchizedek because it is a priesthood without a beginning or end. It is usual for the greater to bless the lesser so Abraham must have seen in Melchizedek someone far greater than himself. Now Salem means the city of Peace. This could mean Jerusalem or even the heavenly Jerusalem. Did Abraham recognize in Melchizedek the king of heaven, the Son of God? There is indeed a similarity in the two persons and the offering of bread and wine by Melchizedek. (Gen. 14:18) is a resemblance of the bread and wine of the Eucharistic offering made by Christ.
As we have said before, Abraham was childless and his wife Sarah, wanting to give him an heir gave him her handmaiden to mate with her. The child born from this union was considered Sarah’s child because Hagar her maid belonged to her. The child was named Ishmael and Abraham thought that he would be his heir. God had other plans. He made a covenant with Abraham and commanded that every man child must be circumcised. “And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations.” (Gen. 17: 11-12) He then told Abraham, that he would bless Sarah and she would conceive and bear a child and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Abraham thought this was funny and laughed and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and be born of her that is ninety years old?” (Gen. 17: 17) He must have thought that God was joking and tried to make God establish his covenant with his firstborn Ishmael. God said in reply: “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee.” (Gen. 17: 19-21) So at the age of 99, Abraham was circumcised and his entire household. Ishmael, by the way, is considered the father of the Arab nations. The next important stop in Abraham’s life is when God appeared to him by the tree of Mambre. It says in Genesis: “And God appeared unto him by the oak of Mambre: as he sat by the door of his tent at noon. And he lifted up his eyes and beheld, and, lo, three men stood before him: and having seen them, he ran to meet them from the door of his tent, and did obeisance to the ground. And he said, LORD, if indeed I have found grace in thy sight, pass not by thy servant. Let water now be brought, and let them wash your feet and do ye refresh yourselves under the tree. And I will bring bread, and ye shall eat.” (Gen. 18: 1-5) The story continues with Abraham preparing food for his visitors and the Lord telling him again that his wife Sarah would conceive in her old age and bear him a son. It is clear in this event that Abraham recognized the Lord, but did he recognize all three angels as representing the Holy Trinity or only the central figure as the Lord, or more specifically, the Second Person of’ the Holy Trinity, the pre-incarnate Son of God? Throughout the history of the Church, the Church fathers have often been divided in their interpretation of this event. Some say that all three angels were a representation of the Three Persons of the Godhead, while others accept the general understanding that it was only the appearance of the Word of God, accompanied by two angels. You all must have seen Icons of this event. The Icon is called the Hospitality of Abraham and shows the three angels around the table with Abraham and Sarah serving them with the food they have prepared. In the background, there is a mountain, the oak tree of Mambre and Abraham’s house. The central figure of the Son of God is usually represented wearing the colours ascribed to Him after His incarnation. In the 15th century, a Russian monk named Andrew Rublev gave this Icon a new form and meaning. He reduced the historical elements of the event, by omitting Abraham and Sarah, so that the main significance of the Icon was not in the historical biblical event, but in the dogmatic teaching of the Three consubstantial Persons of the Holy Trinity. The table was no longer the instrument to hold the food of hospitality, but became the altar for the chalice with the sacrificial lamb: symbolizing the voluntary sacrifice of the Son of God and indicating by the gestures of the three angels, the unity of their predetermined will and the divine economy. Although the Icon was the same event of the hospitality of Abraham, it now placed the historical event as a secondary factor to the symbolic representation of the Triune God and subsequently renamed The Holy Trinity. Whether this is acceptable or not, we will look at more closely when we reach that period in history when the Church had to defend the use of Icons for liturgical use.
Immediately after the Hospitality of Abraham two of the men departed and went to Sodom, but the one remaining who was the Son of God, told Abraham that he would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham ask him if he was going to destroy the righteous along with the wicked: would he not spare these cities if there were 50 righteous men living there. And God said that he would. What follows next is a bartering with the Lord. Abraham says what about 45 men and again the Lord agrees. This continues until Abraham reaches only 10 men and again the Lord said that he would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten righteous men could be found living there. And then the Lord left. (Gen. 18: 23-33)
At Sodom the only righteous people were Abraham’s nephew Lot, his wife and their two still unmarried daughters. Lot had other daughters living in Sodom but when Lot went to his sons in law to warn them that God was going to destroy the place, they laughed in his face so only 4 people left Sodom: only 4 righteous people. They were told to escape for their life; and under no circumstance to look back. Then the Lord sent brimstone and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah and I’m sure you all know the story, Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt.

The last event that we shall look at in Abraham’s life is possibly his greatest temptation. God decided to test his faith and obedience and told him to take his son Isaac and offer him in sacrifice as a burnt offering upon a certain mountain. Abraham takes the boy, a couple of young men to help and the wood for the burnt offering and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham saw the place afar off and told the young men to stay while he and Isaac went there to worship. So off they went Abraham Isaac the wood and the fire and the knife. Isaac questioned his father that they had everything except the lamb for the burnt offering. He couldn’t tell Isaac that he was to be the sacrifice and just replied that God will provide. When they came to the place Abraham built an altar and laid the wood in order, he then tied up Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. Abraham then took the knife and lifted his hand to slay Isaac. At that very moment, the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Gen. 22: 11-13) This is seen as a pre-figuration of the Eucharistic offering and also a pre-figuration of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac because he saw that Abraham’s faith was such that without questioning he was obedient to God’s word, nothing was more important than God, not even his son. It is a kind of faith that we rarely see among Christians today. Who among us, even though we believe that there is life after death, would sacrifice their children if God asked it of us? This is a test of faith that separates the true believers from the millions who call themselves Christians yet in times of persecutions would probably bow down to idols to save there own skin. Christ said: “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me. He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matth. 10: 37) This is the type of faith the martyrs had who willingly endured everything and also encouraged their children to suffer for Christ and the promise of eternal life. God would not ask us to do something he himself was not willing to do; did he not allow the sacrifice of his only begotten Son?