Summary: God has to test our faith in order to know where we stand with Him.
A. Comparing Price Tags
A well-to-do merchant stood on the dock watching as final preparations were made
for a ship to sail. As he stood there, he was joined by a stranger whose clothing revealed
his poverty. Finally the stranger spoke up. “You seem mighty pleased about watching this
ship sail,” he said.
“Yes,” replied the merchant. “I have seen many ships leave this harbor, but this one
gives me more satisfaction than any other I can remember. You see, on this ship I am
sending ten thousand dollars worth of equipment for a mission hospital in China. I just had
to come down and see that it got off safely.”
“Then we have something in common,” said the stranger, “for I, too, have a gift on
“And what is that gift?” asked the merchant somewhat incredulously.
“My only daughter is on that ship. She’s going to China as a missionary.”
“Then my gift is nothing compared with yours,” came the merchant’s quiet reply.
Like this merchant, Abraham was a man of great wealth. His faith was so strong that
he would readily have given any or all of his wealth to God. However, Abraham’s material
wealth was nothing compared with the gift God asked of him — his son Isaac. Yet
Abraham passed even this test of faith in noble fashion.
After the birth of Isaac (with which last week’s printed text ended), the tensions
between Sarah and Hagar continued to increase. They reached the breaking point when
Isaac was weaned. Sarah demanded that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away, but Abraham
was reluctant to give in to his wife’s demands until God told him to do what Sarah asked.
Isaac was to be the child of promise, God said, but Ishmael, too, would be made a great
her legal rights when she made her demand. (Some of the laws of ancient Mesopotamia
allowed the primary wife almost complete control over a secondary wife.) Even though
Hagar and Ishmael were sent out into the desert with only a little food and water to
sustain them, God watched over them and cared for them. The young Ishmael grew to
maturity in the wilderness of Paran, located in the Sinai Peninsula.
During this time, Abraham continued to travel about in southern Palestine, seeking
pasture and water for his flocks. After a misunderstanding with Abimelech over a well that
Abraham had dug, the two entered into an agreement that allowed them to live in peace
with one another.
I. Abraham Is Tested
A. God Appears to Abraham (v. 1)
B. God Commands Abraham (v. 2)
What Do You Think?
Isaac was the most precious thing in Abraham’s life. No test could have been more
severe! God does not ask for burnt offerings today, but for a living sacrifice (Romans
12:1). What are some of the things that are most precious to you? How might God
demand you to give them up to serve him?
Do You Have What It Takes?
Reports of widespread persecution of Christians around the world are deeply troubling.
Believers in Communist China must worship “underground,” fearing imprisonment or worse