For many of us, we often see our lives as a flipbook of the mundane. Our schedules become repetitious, and thoroughly predictable. But in the midst of this string of the ordinary, God may come, and present to us a defining moment in our lives. A moment when our actions will have repercussions that may echo for eternity. This was the case for Abraham, the father of the faith, in Genesis 22. God established His covenant with Abraham, not because Abraham sought it, or was worthy of it, but by God’s sovereign election alone. God had adopted Abraham by the future work of Christ.
Abraham’s life only consists of 14 chapters in the book of Genesis (cf. Genesis 12-25), and yet the effects of his obedience ripple into our own lives today. How could that be? A defining moment broke into his world, and he became the channel of life through which Jesus Christ would one day come. No Christians would exist today had God not used Abraham in this manner.
The very first verse functions like a heading for the passage, “After these things, God tested Abraham” (Genesis 22:1 ESV). Did you know that God tests people? Yes! Indeed, He does. And God was going to test Abraham in a way that would certainly crush most men. God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only beloved son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. But this should not surprise us given what the Bible reveals about testing. Deuteronomy 8:2 explains the purpose behind this sort of testing when Moses writes, “[God tests His people] that He might humble you, testing you to know what in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” Though God tests His people, we must note that God never tempts anyone. James the half-brother of Christ writes, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13 ESV).
God has the divine right to test us, try us, and refine us. Like Abraham, we ourselves may be placed in difficult painful situations, and perhaps many of you are in such places now! Yet God, allows these trials and difficulties in our lives most often because there is no other way for us to spiritually grow. Again we look to James who writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3 ESV). Only through such testing may we stand firm upon Christ. Testing like this hardens and tempers our hearts so that no one may swerve us from the truth of the Gospel.
In the course of our difficulties, our hearts become as tempered as steel. Why? So that in the dark night of the soul, rather than be crushed we will stand resilient by Christ’s work in us. Only by means of suffering and difficulty do we become like Christ, who is the Rock of our salvation. Truly God tests His people, to grow them, and develop them. Yet, alongside great victories, these tests also make the people of God aware of their own failures, and their need for the grace and work of God.
As Abraham took his son Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him, he still believed in God’s covenant promise to make nations come through this very son. He said to his servants, “[we will] come again to you” (Genesis 22:5 ESV). As they ascended the mountain, Abraham’s hope and trust was wholly fixed upon the God who had faithfully kept His promises throughout the years. In the midst of his adversity, Abraham trusted Him again and said “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8 ESV). Abraham’s hope was in God’s provision.
Is God your hope today? If God asked you to do the impossible would you follow Him? Would you trust Him? Would you obey Him? May we reflect the trust of Abraham, who foreshadowed, the trust of Christ in His heavenly Father. There would be no alternative sacrifice for Christ. Instead, the Father sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die so that by means of His blood the world might be redeemed to Him forever.
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