Summary: The Life of Abraham, Part 8 of 10


At 3:00 a.m. one cold morning a missionary candidate walked into an office for a scheduled interview with the examiner of a mission board. He waited until 8 a.m. when the examiner arrived. The examiner said, “Let us begin. First, please spell baker.” “B-a-k-e-r,” the young man spelled. “Very good. Now, let’s see what you know about figures. How much is twice two?” “Four,” replied the applicant. “Very good,” the examiner said. “I’ll recommend to the board tomorrow that you be appointed. You have passed the test.”

At the board meeting the examiner spoke highly of the applicant and said. “He has all the qualifications of a missionary. Let me explain. First, I tested him on self-denial. I told him to be at my house at three in the morning. He left a warm bed and came out in the cold without a word of complaint. Second, I tried him out on punctuality. He appeared on time. Third, I examined him on patience. I made him wait five hours to see me, after telling him to come at three. Fourth, I tested him on temper. He failed to show any sign of it; he didn’t even question my delay. Fifth, I tried his humility. I asked him questions that a small child could answer, and he showed no offense. He meets the requirements and will make the missionary we need.” (7,700 Illustrations # 3461)

In Genesis 22, God dramatically tested Abraham’s devotion to Him with the instruction to offer Isaac his son as a burnt offering on a mountain. Abraham had already suffered the loss of his other son Ishmael who had left the household with his mother Hagar (Gen 21:9-20). Abraham was at a junction in his life. Sarah, who had conceived Isaac in her old age, would die in the next chapter, Abraham’s life would fade in the background after this and the stage would be occupied by his son Isaac. Abraham faced the most critical test of his life. Passing the test would cement Abraham’s legacy in Jewish history. Stories of faith and courage would be told, Jewish history would be made and embedded, and Abraham would received the highest and most affectionate accolade God had given man -- the friend of God (Jas 2:21-23).

How did Abraham pass the test of faith when the stakes were high? What motivated him to surrender to God’s seemingly illogical request? How does testing mature one’s faith?


22:1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Gen 22:3-5)

One summer, a drought threatened the crop in a small town. On a hot and dry Sunday, the village pastor told his congregation, "There isn’t anything that will save us except to pray for rain. Go home, pray, believe, and come back next Sunday ready to thank God for sending rain."

The people did as they were told and returned to church the following Sunday. They wee buzzing, salivating and talking with excitement at what he pastor had said the previous Sunday. But as soon as the pastor saw them, he was furious and chided them for their indifference, disobedience, and faithlessness. He accused them of insincerity, hypocrisy, and prayerlessness. The people did their best to pacify the pastor, to deflect the criticism, and to minimize the uproar. "We can’t worship today. You do not yet believe," the pastor said. They people moaned and protested their innocence "But we prayed, and we do believe." "Believe?" the pastor lashed out. "Then where are your umbrellas?"

Mother Teresa said, “True holiness consists in doing God’s work with a smile.”

Abraham was amazing. He did as he was asked, without hesitation, questioning or fanfare. If he was resistant, angry, quarrelsome, emotional or disillusioned with the task, he did not show it, his son did not feel it, his servants did not know it, and God would not have faulted him anyway. Abraham did not ask for further clarification, bargain for a later date, or feign moral disgust at the request. In fact, Abraham did the unexpected -- he left early the next morning even though time was not stipulated, finished single-handedly the chores even though he had servants with him, and kept the appointment even though he had three days on the trip to think it over, change his mind, or beg for mercy.

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