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The Testing of Abraham

Imagine how it must have been for Sarah to tell Abraham she was pregnant with his son, with Abraham being one hundred years of age! How did Sarah know she was pregnant? There were no doctor’s offices for a pregnancy test in those days. 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,” and giggling together 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." We do not know his age at what happened next, 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 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 Abraham's 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 His people to enjoy a relationship with Him. It is possible that Abraham's attention and affection were so focused on the boy that his relationship with God began to cool. If we are to be servants of the Lord, we must be wholly consecrated to Him. To be consecrated to God is to have open and empty hands toward the Lord. When we grip people or things too tightly, the Lord uses tests and trials to release our grip on whatever we are focused on. Even God's gifts can become more important to us than God Himself. When the Lord pries them from our tight grasp, we experience spiritual growth.

Abraham woke early the following day (Genesis 22:3) and saddled his donkey. He cut up the wood ahead of time and ensured 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. 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 ability to fulfill his Word, no matter how nonsensical it seemed to Abraham. When they got to Moriah, 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, Emphasis mine).

Just as Abraham readied himself to do what God told him, the Angel of the Lord stepped in and stopped him from sacrificing Isaac. God provided a lamb as a substitute for Isaac; in the same way, He has done something similar for us. The lamb in the thicket that Abraham saw is a picture of what God would do in the future for all who will enter into the substitutionary sacrifice of 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 was substituted for 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 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.


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