Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Abraham's Proven Faith

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son" (Hebrew 11:17).

Hebrews 11 is a chronicle of people who lived by faith. In each case, we find that faith was not a mere intellectual exercise or mystical feeling, but faith meant loyalty and humble submission to God. Faith issued in fruitful service to God, even in the midst of pain and crisis.

One example is that of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, recorded for us in Genesis 22. God determined to test Abraham’s faith in terms of his obedience. God told Abraham, “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” (v. 2).

We read that Abraham arose “early the next morning” (v. 3). I imagine Abraham could not sleep, and finally got up so that he could get going on this horrible mission. As the account continues it says that he “saddled his donkey” and that he cut the wood. I doubt if Abraham, one of the wealthiest sheikhs in the ancient world, normally saddled his own donkey, and I doubt if he ever cut his own wood. Today, however, he needed something to occupy his hands to take his mind off what was coming.

God’s test of Abraham must have been sheer torture for him. God might have said, “Kill him right now. Get it over with.” Instead, God kept him thinking about it for three days. The torture continued as Abraham was asked questions by his trusting son. “The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (v. 7).

Finally, Abraham arrived at the place. He built an altar. He arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac on it. And then he took the knife to kill him. Suddenly God interrupted him, and provided an animal substitute. Abraham had shown his faith—through obedience.

Contemplate for a moment the story Abraham's call to sacrifice Isaac. That God stayed Abraham’s hand, preventing him from sacrificing Isaac, is sufficient proof that God would never ask that of us. However, consider to what extent you are prepared to go to demonstrate your faith.