October 2, 2009

Tested Faith

God asks that His people give up all idols and false gods, which is entirely reasonable. But what about when He asks us to give up something that is precious and not an idol? He tested Abraham’s faith in this way. 
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
Most people know the story. This man was asked to take his son to a mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. In my mind, would God even make such a request? He condemned human sacrifice as evil and He asks this man whom He had chosen to do such a thing? This makes no sense to me.

Another amazing part of this story is that Abraham knew that it was God doing the asking. If such a thought came into my head, I would assume it was from Satan or demonic, or at the very least my own sinfulness. Never would I imagine God asking this, but Abraham knew it was God. And without question or hesitation, he did as he was told.

On the mountain, with the knife in his hand, he must have been thinking about the promises that God made to him over the years. Through Isaac, he would father numerous offspring. God would not let Isaac be dead because God keeps His promises. Abraham may have had the knife raised when the Lord stopped him and pointed to a ram caught in a nearby bush — the substitute sacrifice.

When the apostle Paul commented on Abraham’s faith in Galatians, he said, “Those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. . . . Those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Galatians 3:7, 9).

In a spiritual sense, anyone who lives by faith in God is one of Abraham’s offspring. This man is the father of all faithful believers. That indicates that people with faith like his may also experience and survive severe trials. True faith trusts God and believes that He will keep His promise and accomplish His purposes without making one mistake.

Each day holds the potential for life-changing circumstances. I can imagine accidents, illnesses, and all sorts of calamities — if I let myself. Instead, the God of Abraham tells me, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

This is not merely, “Don’t worry, be happy” but trusting God with all my concerns, even thanking Him for all things, particularly for His sovereign power that controls whatever happens. When I am trusting, praying, and thanking God, He gives me a settled heart with a peace that does not even make sense.

As Abraham took Isaac up that mountain so many years ago, was he praying like that? I am certain that he was, and thankful that the same faith is still available as a gift from God.

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