After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Genesis 22:1-3
At last, twenty-five years after the initial promise, Abraham (at 100 years old!) and Sarah have a son. Another chapter in God’s perfect plan is unfolding. Isaac is born. The beloved, and long-awaited, son of Abraham and Sarah. The lineage to which the great nation, and our ultimate Savior, Jesus, will be born.
Things are looking up, right? But then the unexpected happens. God tells Abraham to take Isaac to offer him up as a sacrifice.
Wait, what? The promised son? The heir? To be sacrificed (killed…on an altar and burned). How can this be?
This passage tells us that God is testing Abraham. It is important to know that testing is different than tempting. The Bible tells us God does not tempt us (James 1:13). The devil tempts us. Tempting is hoping for failure. Testing is hoping for success. It is to confirm and strengthen us. God needed Abraham to trust Him completely. God already knew, but He needed Abraham to know. God wanted Abraham to not only trust the promise, but also the promise-maker.
Abraham takes Isaac with him to sacrifice. Isaac asks his father where the lamb for the burnt offering is. Abraham responds that God will provide. Abraham doesn’t have all of the details, but he trusts God. He can’t see how all the pieces will fit together, but he believes God is faithful and God can be trusted. To be continued…
Questions: Think about the difference between testing and tempting. Why do you think God sometimes tests us? Does it give you comfort that testing is for our benefit (vs. tempting from the devil that is meant to bring us down)?