The Testing of Abraham


Imagine how it must have been for Sarah to tell Abraham he would have a son at one hundred years of age! How did Sarah know she was pregnant? There were no doctor’s offices for a pregnancy test in Sarah's day. The mind boggles at the thought of a ninety-year-old woman today going into a doctor’s office or a drug store asking for a pregnancy test kit! There must have been a shock at the baby's first kick inside her womb. Imagine wide-eyed Abraham as he heard the news for the first time from Sarah. How stunning would have been the revelation that God keeps His promises precisely on time—even when it is an utterly impossible situation. Praise must have filled his heart when he held Isaac in his arms for the first time.


It seemed like forever that Abraham had waited on the promise that he would be the father of many nations, and now at one hundred years of age, God fulfilled His promise. After Isaac was born, it is easy to imagine the two of them in the tent with Isaac cradled in the middle as they began to say his name, “Laughter,” giggling for joy at God's miraculous power!


Abraham's test came several years after Isaac was born. Genesis 22:5 and 12 tell us that Isaac was now a "boy." How old we do not know, but Isaac was now walking and talking. When one’s spiritual life plateaus and there is no upward climb or increase to faith, the Lord often comes to us like the divine Vinedresser pruning His vine for greater fruitfulness (John 15:1-2). He uses trials or tests so that His people will enjoy a new growth spurt in their faith.

1Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you” (Genesis 22:1-2).


It is likely that when Hagar and Ishmael had to leave his household, Abraham's attention became even more focused on his son Isaac. When we are extremely fond of people or things, we tend to lose focus on God, who loves us and wants to enjoy a relationship with us. Abraham's attention and affections could have been so focused on the boy. If we are to be servants of the Lord, we must be wholly consecrated to Him. To be consecrated is to have open and empty hands toward the Lord. When we grip things or people too tightly, the Lord uses tests and trials to release our grip from whatever it is we are focused on. Even God's gifts can become more important to us than God Himself. When the Lord pries them from our grip, we experience spiritual growth.


Abraham got up early the next morning (Genesis 22:3) and saddled his donkey. He cut up the wood ahead of time and made sure he had a sharp knife with him as he got two servants and his son together. I'm sure he did not tell Sarah what the Lord had told him to do. It is way too easy to find reasons why a person should not obey God. He needed no distractions to hinder him from doing what God told him to do. How illogical it must have been to Abraham. The wait for Isaac had been so long, and now he was to kill him; how this man of faith would have drawn back at the thought of killing his beloved son! How would he explain it to Sarah when he came home with Isaac's blood all over his clothes?


Abraham had fully come to a place in his heart and mind where he had confidence in God’s abilities to fulfill his Word. He told the two servants that he and Isaac would go on to worship, and then they would both be back. He had complete faith that Isaac would come back with him. Isaac asked his father:


“Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together (Genesis 22:7-8 KJV).


Just at the crucial time, the Angel of the Lord stepped in and stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. God provided a lamb as a substitute for Isaac, just as He has done something similar for us. The lamb Abraham saw caught in the thicket is a picture of what God would do in the future for all who will enter into the sacrifice of God Himself as the Messiah (Christ). For those of us reading and studying today, it was two thousand years ago that the once-for-all-time sacrifice bled and died. His blood paid our debt of sin.


So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided” (Genesis 22:14).


Just as a lamb substituted Isaac, the provision of God is for us to know God through a substitutionary sacrifice for sin. God has made a covenant with us, and He will not fail to keep His Word. When we trust Christ, the Lord stretches our faith to new dimensions, so we can "give our Isaacs" to God. He is genuinely Jehovah Jireh, our provider. His grace is sufficient.


Taken from the complete study found in the series on Abraham. Go to All Studies, scroll down to The Faith of Abraham and click on: Abraham’s Test