Many a comments and discussions have come around the “test” that is placed before Abraham as he goes up with his son and is told to sacrifice his “only son.” Many conversations have swirled around about if God is “all-knowing” then why is he testing Abraham? If God was going to provide a ram in place of Isaac’s death – then why do it? Does God not know what Abraham is going to do? WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THIS TEXT!?
Well, first please take a second and read Genesis 22:1-19 (I’ll wait….)
First of all – we must remember that this son that he was given was the long, awaited-and-promised son from God. That in his old age (and his wife’s) they were promised a son and a lineage FROM that line. So it almost begs the question that why didn’t Abraham see that God was doing something OUTSIDE OF a death sentence for Isaac? Why would God promise a son, promise a future, promise a lineage beyond the sand on the shores and then credit Abraham and his wife for their “faith” in him () – and then say, “Just joking…now go kill your son for me!” Seems ridiculous – right?
I appreciate how one author states that it is one thing to claim to trust God’s word when waiting for something; it is quite another thing to trust and obey His word after it is received. And there is where we must land. This isn’t a test from God as if he has no clue how Abraham would react thus he’s “testing” him to see just how much he’s learned. This isn’t an opportunity for God to have a little fun and mess with Abraham as if this was the greatest cosmic “joke” God could play. And neither is this some hidden or random text where we’re supposed to sit and go, “what in the ______?” Once more we’re reminded that everything we have in Scripture is good for teaching, rebuking, and learning from – but everything is an opportunity for us to draw closer to God as he reveals more and more of who He is and what he’s done for us.
Because this isn’t about Abraham…this isn’t about Isaac…this is about God.
This was God, giving Abraham an opportunity (a “test” if you will), for ABRAHAM to recognize just how much faith he has in God AND HIS OWN OBEDIENCE as a child of God. God knew how Abraham would react and God knew all along that the ram would replace the boy upon the altar – but Abraham didn’t. This, in essence, was a smaller – and yet LARGER – request from God for Abraham to be obedient as earlier he had asked Abraham to go into the land that God was showing him (Genesis 12:1-3) and Abraham trusted. Abraham had faith.
What this text ultimately is to do for us is remind us not only of our own covenant commitment to God but HIS covenant commitment to us! That God asks things of us, sometimes REALLY BIG things of us, and we’re called to trust, be obedient, and if we know him and love him then we ALSO know that not only does he seek the best for us but he’d never do anything to harm us. AND ultimately he’s never going to ask us to do anything he wouldn’t do himself – or hasn’t already done himself. So this text should really propel us to Jesus Christ – the Son of God and the one who was/is the provided “sacrifice” for our sins. Just as God replaced Isaac upon the altar with a ram – so too does Christ replace us upon the altar.
Ultimately Abraham believed God, trusted him, had faith in what he was doing, and those instances stayed with Abraham his whole life. That God is faithful and good. That he holds to his word and his covenant. The question posed – is do you believe God is faithful and good? Do you have faith that he is doing what is best for you and will continue to do so always?