Summary: A real believer can trust Gods purposes without knowing why he acts in some ways. (Part 4 "Passing Life’s Tests - the ’why’ test)
Passing Life’s Tests
PART IV - Traveling with Trust - The “Why?” Test.
There is a saying that goes, “Suspicion enters the door through which love and trust exit.” You know when I read the story of Abraham and Isaac, and how God asked Abraham to slay his only son, my suspicion is aroused. I wonder what God’s intentions are. And I wonder why it is that God required a human sacrifice. You know, the why? Test is perhaps the most difficult test we will face, because sometimes there are just no answers. But in many ways it is also the most important test that God will lead us to. It is the most important because if we pass it, our love for and trust in God grows, but if we fail, the reverse is true.
The writer of Hebrews then, has given us an insight into how Abraham faced and passed the why? test. He makes it clear that a real believer can trust God’s purposes without knowing why.
The first thing he says is that …..
TRUSTING IN A SOVERIEGN GOD (v 17a)
HEB 11:17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.
It is clear here that God is the one who did the testing. The point being that God is active in every circumstance of life. Abraham trusted in a sovereign God - a God that is in control of all things at all times, even testing, good or bad. What we learn from this is that a real believer can trust God’s purposes without knowing why by trusting in a sovereign God.
You see when Abraham obeyed God’s command to leave Ur and go to the promised land, he simply had to give up his past. That was relatively easy. It was easy because Abraham knew God was the God of history. And throughout the history of his own life, Abraham had seen and experienced God’s faithfulness towards him. But when Abraham was summoned by God to slay his son, to offer him as a sacrifice, he was asked to surrender his future as well!
It’s relatively easy for us to trust the God of history because we can survey his track record and make a judgement as to his reliability. But when we’re asked to place the unknown future into the hands of God, that takes real faith. It’s hard to trust the God of the future. But the God of history is the God of the future also. Abraham knew that God was sovereign - that he rules over the past, present and the future. And even though the future generations of Abraham depended upon Isaac’s survival, he was still prepared to go through with this sacrifice because he trusted God. Abraham knew that nothing ever happened by accident - even something as bizarre as a human sacrifice ever happens by accident.
The dictionary defines ‘accident’ as “an unforseen event or one without apparent cause.” Any Christian who understands the sovereignty of God will immediately determine from this definition that there is no such thing as an accident.
It’s like the stockman who goes to buy some life insurance. The broker asked him if he had had any accidents in the past year, to which the stockman replied “No. But I was kicked by a horse, chased by a raging bull and bitten by a Dugite - that laid me up for a while.” The agent said, “Weren’t they accidents?” To which the stockman replied, “No, they did it on purpose.” You see this stockman realised that there are no such thing as accidents.
In the same way Abraham was able to surrender his future to God because he knew there was no such thing as an accident. God doesn’t make mistakes. So even though Abraham didn’t understand ‘why’ God wanted him to slay his son, he knew that he could obey him without question. His faith told him that God would work out his purposes, even if he himself could not see how that could be done.
The sense in the original language behind v17 really brings out Abraham’s confidence. He was so willing and determined to obey God by sacrificing Isaac, that in his own mind Abraham had completed the task - the task was as good as done. And his confidence is again clearly evident in the Genesis account that we read earlier. In Genesis 22 we see how Abraham left his servants and set off for Mt. Moriah with Isaac in tow, but with no sacrificial lamb. He was confident that the Lord would provide. The reason Abraham could be so confident about the future is that he took God’s promises seriously.
TAKING GOD AND HIS PROMISES SERIOUSLY
HEB 11:17b 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."