Have you ever been tested Friends? I mean really tested–the kind of situation you knew had to be the hand of God?
How did it go? Did you hold on with faith and endure til the end? Leaning on Christ every second?
Or did you cry out and ask Him Why me Lord? Maybe even sulk in your obedience?
Or did you loose faith in the situation and choose disobedience because it “made more sense?”
I think we are unaware of our tests sometimes. When we think of tests from God, we think of specific bible stories, like when Abraham was told to sacrifice his only son (Genesis 22:2). Abraham had not been given the warning, “Now, this is the test I have for you,” and yet somehow he made wise decisions.
Let’s look at the beautiful love story of Abraham and his only son given to him in old age, and learn how to let God lead us. Let’s see what we can take away from this story of a father and his son so that when an unforeseen test faces us and our raw emotions take over, we will have some skills to back them up–and make faithful decisions.
Recall in Genesis:
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then 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.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac,and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,“Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 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: 1-13
This story has always left me in awe. I used to just look at it as a story that exemplified the kind of heart Abraham had, and why God chose him to be the father of the nations. It has also served as a warning to me that God wants (rightfully so) to be number one in our lives–which means He is above our husbands and kids. That’s easy to swallow until I ask myself if I would be willing to give up one of my children if He told me to. Then it’s not so easy.
Here are four questions that arise from this passage, for me to answer and draw strength from.
1. Is there anything in my life I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice if God asked me to?
I have to look at my life each time I read through this passage. What is important to me? Are any of those things idols to me? Do I idolize my job? my family? a hobby? this site? friends? my garden? Do I put any of these things before God–either with my time, my thoughts, or in my heart?
We know that Abraham waited until old age before he was blessed with Isaac. Will there be something I wait my entire life for, or work for, or save for, that God asks me to sacrifice–the next day?
Could I do it?
2. Would I hesitate to obey when God asked me to do what sounds like the worst idea I’ve ever heard?
It doesn’t elaborate here what Abraham was thinking. But in the New Testament, it tells us that Abraham believed he would kill his son, and deduced that God could raise him from the dead to fulfill His promise (Heb 11: 19). In his heart, he believed he would kill his only, long-awaited son. And what did he do? He got up early the next morning to head off.
Wow. When God tells me to do the unthinkable, will I not only plan to do it right away, but also then give up sleep, and any time left I have with the sacrifice? Will I be strong enough to act in obedience right away?
3. When faced with a confusing, heartbreaking decision, will I be confident that God will provide the sacrifice?
It’s one thing to act in obedience. We do it all the time. But God tells us over and over again, it’s what’s in our hearts that count. Adultery is not only sin when we do it, but also when we just entertain the thought in our hearts.
Physically obeying God is only an action of obedience–God wants a heart of obedience. Abraham told his son, “God will provide…the burnt offering.” He knew God promised his children would be like the stars in the sky. And he knew they needed to be through Isaac.
When God asks me to make a sacrifice, how will I know He will provide? He tells me in His Word (Romans 8:28, and Jer 29:11 just to name a couple). These are important verses for me not to just have memorized and be able to spout off–but also to know these words and feel them and believe them.
4. Will I be able to demonstrate confidently to my children that God is in control?
It was common practice at this time for pagans to sacrifice their children to false gods. Surely Isaac was not ignorant to this practice. I have no doubt that at some point, Isaac had to have gotten nervous. He was undoubtedly awake while he was being tied down.
As they walked up the mountain, he asks his dad where the sacrifice is. Abraham assures him the Lord will provide.
Now, if my 100 year old dad was walking with me up a mountain and I believed I was soon to be slaughtered, I would have ran away. Yet Isaac didn’t. He had to have trusted his father’s word. Abraham had to have presented his view in such a way that his son knew he (and ultimately God) was in control.
Could I do this? Do I do this? When things get stressful, do I assure my children that I’m not worried and that I believe fully that God is in control?
One thing is for sure: the next time a major test shows up in my life, I want to have this faith. I don’t want to be trying to convince myself, or only obeying with physical actions. I want to be in total obedience–obedience of the heart.
And I want my children to see and feel nothing but confidence from me. Because I want them to grow an obedient heart as well.