Summary: To examine why God allowed Abraham to be tested and the results of that test
A Test for Abraham
Primary Purpose: To look at why God would test Abraham and the results of that test
I have said that faith is the way in which we appropriate the work of God into our lives. We see this event throughout the Bible. Abraham was first tested with his wife Sarah’s barrenness. God promised him a child and he was born when Abraham was near 100 years old. That’s about 25 years that Abraham waited on God to answer that one prayer. Now, God is going to expand Abraham’s faith even more, by telling him to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering. (Read Scripture)
There are a lot of things we could say about this one passage. Many people look at this as a foreshadowing of what Christ did for us. That’s because Mt.Moriah is probably the same mountain that Jesus would later be sacrificed on. There are a lot of parellels between Isaac and Jesus. But, the main point of the story is one of faith. Faith to do what God tells us to do. One of the first questions you should ask yourself in looking at this passage is: Why did God test Abraham? What was God hoping to achieve? Doesn’t God know everything? Therefore, wouldn’t God know what Abraham would do?
Point One that I want to mention to you is that God tested Abraham in order to expand his faith and in order to bless him. God didn’t test Abraham to find out what he would do. God doesn’t need to find out anything. God already knew what Abraham was about. James 1:3 says that when we go through various trials we should realize that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. That means that when your faith is stretched and worked over, it grows. Just like a muscle in a gym. So, God allows Abraham to experience this difficulty in order to build him up. When you go through something like this you need to remember that: God’s intent is not to destroy, but to build up.
God doesn’t want you to have a dead faith. By dead faith, I mean “It is that kind of faith which would lead a man to take a bottle of medicine from his medicine cabinet. Looking at the instructions on it, he says, I’m sure they’re correct. I have all confidence in the source of the medicine. I know who wrote these directions. I believe everything about it. I know this will relieve my headache, if I just take it.” But he takes the medicine bottle and puts it back on the shelf. He doesn’t lose his headache. It continues on. Yet he can say I believe that medicine. I believe all about that medicine. But still he won’t take it. That’s dead faith.”
(James 2:20, Dr.Harlan Roper, Tape on James, Dallas, TX)
If you remember Peter for example. Peter was told on the night that he betrayed Jesus, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthened your brothers.” Luke 22:31. Notice that Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. The intent was to make Peter a rock that the church could be built on. The intent was to do a great work through Peter. In order to do that, he had to be sifted. Sifting burns away what is worthless that what is worthwhile might remain and be stronger. In John 15:2, Jesus calls this a pruning process. The intent is to provoke new growth, by cutting away what is dead and useless. So, don’t be surprised if you go through trials, but take comfort in the fact that if God is leading you through this then he is also praying for you. So, God also desires to bless Abraham. In order to do that he gives him a opportunity to succeed.
Now, if you notice in Hebrews 11:17-19, the scripture indicates that Abraham didn’t understand all the details of what he would do. But, he was assuming that Isaac would live through the experience. He was assuming that if he killed Isaac that God would raise him from the dead. Abraham believed that because God had said repeatedly that it was through Isaac that “your offspring would be reckoned.” Genesis 21:12. In other words, Isaac was the child through whom all the promises would be fulfilled.
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us. (Illustration by John Emmons)