Abraham certainly had his ups and downs as a follower of God, and maybe that is why I love his part of the Scriptures so much. This makes him relatable. I can readily identify with his challenges and mistakes. But he soars to heights unforeseen toward the later portion of his life and he has me speechless. I am stunned by his victorious act of faith!
In Genesis 22, it describes the “test of Abraham ” and oh what a test it was! I would say that for any parent, it would be the test of a lifetime!
After waiting to the advanced age of 100, and after waiting 25 years from the time God promised that he would indeed become a parent, his beloved son Isaac was born. I have waited long and hard before, but never THAT long or THAT hard! Therefore, he already has my admiration on this point alone.
But then………my eyes well with tears at the glory of it, he harnesses every lesson of doubting faith he has learned from his previous failures and uses them for the ultimate victory over self! Oh how the heavens must have rung with praise that day at the culmination of his “test”.
Verse 1 begins with ” Some time later God tested Abraham ” and then in verse 2 explains how, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” As shocking as this is, and rightly so as our God has never, ever asked for human sacrifices as “burnt offerings “, Abraham reacts as if this request did not catch him off guard. By all appearances of this text in Scripture, he did not hesitate in obedience.
I must stress that God Almighty, the Only True God, does not ask for the death of people, apart from His own dearly Beloved Son Jesus, to glorify Himself. Unlike the politically protected religion of our day, violence and tyranny is not what He is after. Jesus came to conquer sin and death His first time on earth, as He willingly gave up His own life on Calvary. He sacrificed Himself so that others might live eternally safe and secure by trusting in His atonement for them.
But the second coming of Christ……it will be vastly different as our King of Kings and Lord of Lords descends out of heaven on a white horse bringing justice and judgment on the earth! Revelation 19 teaches us of the ultimate victory of righting all the wrongs of the earth perpetrated by our enemy Satan, and his cohorts. So let there be no mistaking our God with a religion that commonly asks for human sacrifice and carnage to achieve domination.
Verse 3 in Genesis 22 describes in calm, everyday fashion, Abraham getting up the next morning and heading out in obedience. What strikes me about this is what is not described. The Bible does not say Abraham asked for clarification, or that he freaked out and asked God what He was thinking, or that he delayed in obedience, or that he even fasted and prayed. It just says he went. He obeyed.
Now my mind is reeling with “How?!” How could he calmly obey such a request, a far-fetched request never heard before? A request that seems to target the well-being of his long awaited promise? This seems so contrary to all he knew, so threatening to his most precious treasure. Then the Spirit moves in with insight and understanding………
Was it threatening what he valued most? Did it catch him off guard or was he actually prepared for it?! I remember how all the time, the fears, and the challenges had to have changed him. After 25 years of walking with God, intimacy had made it’s mark. This was not the same old Abraham. His response proves that what God had told him back in Genesis 15:1 had become his anchor, his reality.
God was his very great reward! And he was not afraid at this test of a lifetime!
The text is riveting as it describes how Abraham spent three days walking with his precious son, along with the fire and wood, to the mountain where he was to kill Isaac. He bound his son and was on the verge of killing him when the angel of the Lord called out for him to stop. Abraham once again obeyed and God was eternally glorified from the results of the test.
And what did the results prove? Why was Abraham tested in the first place? Because of who he is and what he is to represent for the rest of time! Abraham was the first person God called and set apart for Himself from all the other people of the world. Abraham was to be used throughout the generations of Christians as the father of our faith, as referenced “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. He was to be our example (secondary to Jesus as He came as the exact representation of the Father) in faith. So the example better get it right!
God was testing Abraham’s priorities and devotion! And he passed! No one and nothing was to take precedence over God in his life. God was to be valued and loved above all others, and Abraham proved that as reality, through his test.
Even Jesus echoes these priorities in Matthew 10:37 as He said, “Anyone who loves his father and mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…”. So from Abraham to Jesus, there is no denying that God is to come first in our lives as believers.
Abraham’s test results ring through eternity for the glory due God’s name. Would ours? What are our priorities testifying about us? What devotion do we glory in? I am sad to say as a generation, our test would reveal results other than Abraham’s.
As a generation of hovering helicopter parenting that glories in our children more than our God, we fall woefully misguided, if not idolatrous, in our prioritizing of children nowadays. Why are we oh so eager to catch up with others by reciting the accolades and achievements of our children since we last saw one another? It is like a résumé scrolling continually as we encounter one another in our community. We keep up with the Joneses by keeping up with their children!
Is that truly catching up with one another? Or is it actually boasting? Even in our Christian circles we are smart enough not to boast of ourselves but it seems socially accepted, even promoted, to boast of our children. Is that what we want ringing through eternity?
And what does this teach our children? That we are a child centered society? Is this what we want ringing in their ears?
Abraham has shown us the better way and it will bring him honor for all eternity, just as it brought eternal glory to our God. May we heed the lesson from him and enjoy just as Great a Reward for ourselves before it is too late. Eternity can start any moment. May we not waste our opportunity to change our testimony of what we treasure. “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31