TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son. (Hebrews 11:17 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• We’re on Day 7 which puts us at exactly the halfway point for our two-week look at the hard questions both believers and non-believers ask. Today, our question is “Why did God tell Abraham to kill his son as a test?”
It’s a question that makes every parent cringe. And for Abraham, I can’t imagine how painful God’s request was. After all, Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise to give Abraham a son — a son from whom a nation would be born (Genesis 17:15-21). For God to ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac meant to let go of the son he’d spent years praying for… Yet, when we get to Genesis 22, we read of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God.
What is fascinating to me about this passage is that the Bible offers no details about Abraham’s emotional reaction. We read in Genesis 22:2, “He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” And verse 2a says, “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac.” There’s no hesitation. No indication that Abraham prayed, “Surely I misheard You — what did You just say??” The Bible indicates immediate obedience without hesitation. I know that Abraham was a tremendous man of faith, but gracious me — I think I would have been doing some heavenly negotiating at that moment.
But let’s take a closer look at Abraham’s faith… In verse 5, after traveling to the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham told his servants, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (Genesis 22:5b). Did you catch it? “I and the boy will go…” and “come again to you.” Abraham’s unwavering faith, even before he knew God was going to present him with a ram in lieu of his own son, was spoken with confidence. “Isaac and I are going over there to worship, but we’ll be right back.” Not, “I’ll” be right back. We will.
So, the question though is — Why? Why did God ask this of Abraham? Well, for one thing, the story of Abraham and Isaac foreshadows God’s sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ. But unlike the ram caught in the thicket who could serve as the substitute for Isaac, there was no substitute for Jesus.
Really though, only God can answer this question of why. But my speculation is that He was so confident in Abraham’s faith, He used it to model unconditional obedience and trust for future generations. And certainly, hasn’t it done so? This event took place circa 2054 BC and here we are — 4000+ years later and we’re still talking about it. Even the writer of Hebrews cited Abraham’s faith in the Bible Hall of Faith which is found in Hebrews 11, and specifically 11:17-19. Verse 19 tells us that Abraham, “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”
Beyond Abraham’s example of faith, we also have to bear in mind that God will ask hard things out of us. He puts us in these hard positions so that we can be challenged to trust Him, grow closer to Him, and recognize our complete dependence on Him. He uses these times so that we may glorify Him through our faithfulness.
Lest you wonder how to reconcile God’s expectation for glory in light of Jesus’ commands for humility, let us remember— we are the created beings. Not the other way around. God said in Isaiah 43:21, “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
As you ponder your own life, do you see how certain events have brought you closer to God? The thing about obedience—God never said it would be easy. Even in the most difficult seasons of obedience though, what God is looking for is our willingness to obey. Our willingness to trust that His plan is better than our own. When we willingly obey, we demonstrate faith that makes God proud. We glorify Him through willing hearts. When I think of how He may look at His children when they obey, I love the idea that God may look at me with pride in His eyes whenever I trust Him more than I trust myself or my circumstances.
No matter where we are in life, God has to be the priority. Over our family, friends, jobs, home, money, etc… even our children. He matters most. Obedience to Him demonstrates that and it proves that God is faithful. Just as Abraham placed all His hope in God, all my hope is in Him too. And He’s where your hope will be most secure as well. Even when He asks you to do the impossible, because “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Today, as you pray, thank God that though He may ask hard things out of us, we can do anything through Him when we offer up our willing hearts in obedience to Him. Thank Him for the obedience modeled by Abraham and even Jesus when He willingly put His own will aside and obeyed to the point of death on the cross. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have a willing and obedient heart that trusts even in the most impossible of circumstances.
SHARING ••• Please share with others! Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. ***Unless noted otherwise, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.