Summary: Put Your Faith in the LORD Who Provides 1) With complete obedience to his Word 2) With implicit trust in his promises 3) With absolute assurance of his mercy
Finish this sentence. “The worst part about school is…” How many of you said “taking tests”? Tests aren’t a lot of fun are they? I used to think teachers gave tests just to watch their students squirm. That of course isn’t true. Teachers give tests for the benefit of their students. Tests are beneficial because it gives students the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned and, in so doing, help them remember longer the things they have been taught.
Our text illustrates the truth that tests benefit the ones taking them. When God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac, God did so for Abraham’s benefit, not his own. God already knew that Abraham loved him more than anything or anyone else. He didn’t need to test Abraham to find this out. Instead he tested Abraham to give him the opportunity to consciously put God first in his life and in so doing learn that blessings follow.
When God tests us today it’s also for our benefit. God wants us to find out from experience that those who put him first are blessed. So let’s do that. Let’s put our faith in the Lord who provides with complete obedience to his Word, with implicit trust in his promises, and with absolute assurance of his mercy.
The test that God placed before Abraham was indeed a difficult one. By commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, God was not only asking Abraham to kill the son he had waited 25 years to have, God was in essence telling Abraham to cut himself off from the hope of a savior for God had promised that through Isaac’s family the savior from sin would come.
Although God’s command to sacrifice Isaac was in conflict with God’s promise that through Isaac’s family the savior would come, Abraham knew that resolving this conflict was God’s business, not his. His business was to obey. And so early the next morning Abraham prepared the wood, sharpened the knife, saddled the donkey, and set out with his son to make the sacrifice. Abraham did all this without debating God’s instructions, for Abraham knew that God’s commands are to be executed, not questioned.
Do we put our faith in the Lord with complete obedience to his Word, as did Abraham? Although God has not commanded us to sacrifice our firstborn, he has commanded that we give him our firstfruits. Is that a command we follow with complete obedience, or do we reason that if we give God our first and our best, there will not be enough left over for us? Are we in essence saying to God: “Lord, you can have my heart but don’t expect my wallet!” How does such an attitude mesh with Jesus’ words: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). The truth is if we withhold our wallets from the Lord, we are withholding our hearts. Friends, God wants us to consciously put him first in our life of giving. That was the purpose of the pledge cards. While the pledge cards helped us gauge support for our building program its main purpose was to give us an opportunity to consciously put God first by prayerfully determining how much of our income we were going to give back to him this year. It’s OK if you didn’t submit a pledge to the church, but it’s not OK to ignore the command to put God first in all things, including stewardship.
We will only put our faith in the Lord with complete obedience to his Word when we show implicit trust in his promises. It was implicit trust in God’s promises that moved Abraham to put one foot in front of another for the 80 km journey to Mt. Moriah where the sacrifice was to take place. You can be sure that during this three-day journey Satan filled Abraham’s mind with countless reasons why it was ludicrous to obey God. Yet Abraham went. How could he proceed with God’s command? Hebrews 11:17-19 explains how. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.”
According to these inspired words, Abraham believed that if he should sacrifice Isaac, God would have to raise him from the ashes of the burnt offering he was to become. God would have to do this because he promised that through Isaac’s family the savior would come. This trust was mirrored in the words that Abraham spoke to his servants once they reached the mountain where the sacrifice was to take place. Abraham said, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5).