One of the joys of my work with Ligonier Ministries has been in reading through most of R.C. Sproul’s books, trying to get a sense of what he has written about over the years. Along the way I’ve found that Dr. Sproul is quite a storyteller. There are several times in his books that he tells really poignant stories, all of which point to some great truth. Such is the case in his story of a journey to Mount Moriah. Give it a read as I’m sure it will touch you as it touched me.
I find it difficult, if not impossible, to get inside the head of Abraham on his journey to Mount Moriah. I have never had the experience of being called to slay my son for the glory of God. The closest thing to it in my own experience pales into insignificance by comparison. It occurred not with my son, but with my dog.
When I began Ligonier Ministries in 1971 I was given a special gift of two German shepherd puppies by the benefactress of our work. Mrs. Dora Hillman gave our family two puppies that had been born on Palm Sunday. She named them Hallelujah and Hosannah. Hallie was the female, and Hosie the male. They were bred of champion stock; the sire of the litter was the Canadian Grand Victor, and the brood bitch was the champion of the noted Mellon family of Pittsburgh. Hosie was an especially magnificent animal, a classic sable German shepherd.
When Hosie was two months old he came into the kitchen through the doggie door one morning with his head swollen to almost twice its normal size. He was staggering and obviously disoriented. I quickly assumed that somehow he had encountered a bees’ nest and had suffered multiple stings to his head. I rushed him to the veterinarian’s office for treatment. When the vet examined him he discovered three deep fang wounds to his head that had obviously been made by a poisonous snake, either a copperhead or a rattlesnake. The snake had injected enough venom to be fatal to the young dog. The vet declared that it was the worst case of snakebite he had ever seen in an animal, and he gave me a grim prognosis. He explained that the ability for poisonous snakes to kill was vastly overrated and that the potency of their strikes depended upon several factors including the physical size of the animal stricken, the area of the body where the venom was injected, and the amount of venom the snake injected. On all these counts the puppy was in serious danger. The vet went on to explain that Hosie would have to go through some serious crisis stages in order to survive.
The first crisis was to survive the initial shock and the impact of the venom itself. The second was the crisis provoked by the severe swelling. He said that when animals’ eyes are swollen shut and they are reduced to temporary blindness, they simply seem to lose their will to live. He explained secondary reactions that also could prove fatal.
He administered antivenom shots and other medications and told me the next forty-eight hours would be critical. Two days later the vet phoned to inform me that Hosie had survived the initial crisis stage but that he would have to remain in the vet hospital for two weeks. After that period elapsed the vet called again to report that Hosie was sufficiently recovered to come home. I was enormously relieved by the news.