Genesis 22: 1-25:18
I am trying to imagine God asking me to give Him something precious to me. Would it be my husband, my children, life itself?
For Abraham, it was his son. His faith was tested when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. This narrative is one of the most significant in the Old Testament. Not only does it demonstrate the faith of the patriarch, the faithfulness of God, and the genuine depth of Abraham’s faith, it also points to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God that was provided to take our place on the altar of sacrifice.
Other sections in today’s reading describe the death of Sarah, how Abraham’s chief servant demonstrated faith in God to help him find a wife for Isaac, and the death of Abraham. He was buried by his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael.
What spoke to me today is how God deepened Abraham’s assurance after he obeyed this incredible command to sacrifice his son.
“Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”
He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide.”
And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22: 10-18)
God did supply a substitute, just as He later supplied Christ. And God does test my faith just like Abraham was tested. This happens every time He asks me to do something that requires me saying ‘no’ to everything that seems good and right to me.
However, God also repeated His covenant promise to Abraham right after he obeyed in faith and this is how faith is increased. Not only does God ‘come through’ when we do whatever He is asking us to do, He also hugs His people with affirmation. We need it. I need it.
God may ask me many things, but giving up what seems good and right is the most difficult. Yet when I do, He affirms to me that no matter what I surrender to Him, He will bless me far beyond that sacrifice with multiplied blessings that at present I cannot foresee. And when He gives this assurance, my faith is stretched to reach out and embrace that unknown, not because I’ve figured out what it is, but because I know that my faith is in the same God, the God of Abraham, and that He is able to do exceedingly above and beyond all that I can ask or imagine!