Summary: Do you have any faith? How do you know? How can we determine if our faith is real or if our faith is real strong? The true proof of faith is a test of faith.
Passage: Genesis Chapter 22 (All) The testing of Abraham’s Faith.
Do you have any faith? How do you know? How can we determine if our faith is real or if our faith is real strong? The true proof of faith is a test of faith.
And God sometimes brings us for testing for very closely related reasons.
1) To test our faith so that we and He might see that it is genuine.
2) To strengthen our faith - because only when our faith is tested can it grow stronger.
Abraham’s faith was tested. In terms that we can understand God wanted to make sure that Abraham’s faith was authentic. Not because God didn’t know - he knows already. But part of what makes Faith authentic is it’s successful exercise. So let’s read together this terrifying passage in Genesis 22:1-19. Terrifying because it’s reminder is that God wants nothing to be held as more dear to us than Him.
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Warren Wiersbe said: "Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God tests us to help bring out the best." (Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the Old Testament (Ge 21:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)
What is more important to you, the proliferation of things or God? Your family or God? Your comfort or your God? I wonder sometimes if God will not test your love for him, like he tested Abraham’s love for Him. Abraham’s test of faith is a model of fear, commitment and courage for us.
God’s command was simple: Take what you love, and offer it to me.
The lessons in this familiar text are multiple. But first I want to show you Hebrews 11:17-19.
< Read it >.
Abraham and Isaac are what is called a type in a sense both of the God The Father and of Jesus The Son-Of-God. Jesus was slain in the very vicinity where Isaac was to be offered and a substitute was made. Jesus is the substitute. Isaac, from all accounts was apparently a fairly willing party to the whole affair, as was Jesus. The Ram was the substitute which Christ became.
As they were walking to the mountain, Isaac asked his Father, "Where’s the Lamb?" Abraham replied that God would provide the lamb, and just as Abraham was lowering the knife to kill his son, God stopped him and provided the lamb, caught in a thicket. Centuries later, God would provide His son; John the Baptist would proclaim, "Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." In the Temple courts while the Jews threw hateful glances at Him Jesus would fend off his critics by saying, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." -John 8:56
Application: When we go through testing, God knows what we are enduring. He is not simply watching from a distance like some unimpassioned spectator with no vested interest and nary a care. He is here, he is personally involved and He is sustaining us and yes, even weeping with us while we weep. God is here, and God will provide whatever it takes to carry us through the fire. Even raising us from the dead if necessary in order to accomplish his task in our lives.
2. PRACTICAL: God didn’t want Isaac dead, he wanted Abraham’s heart. Let’s stop here for a moment and really think through the hard question -what do I value above God? Now I know that at first we want to say, "Nothing at all! I view Nothing as being more important than God." But do we really understand what it means to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength?
Do we really understand Jesus’ somewhat enigmatic command in Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple." Those are tough words to take. And it’s an even harder question to take when we bother to ask it of ourselves.
Is there anything in me or in my life that I value in any way above the Father? Honestly, I believe that careful searching and diligent probing will often reveal in most of us, I believe, that there are areas of our hearts that are not fully given over to God. A revelation that should drive us to our knees in surrender when we discover it.
The old hymn asks the question, "Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid, your heart does the spirit control?" And another says, "we never can prove the delights of his love until our all on the altar is laid." Both hymns look at this text and find our need to elevate God and set aside everything else.