Father Abraham: The Ultimate Test

Genesis 22:1-19

Everyone knows this story, and I’m sure you don’t need me to retell it: God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering to God, and Abraham obeyed God’s instructions. At the last moment God stopped him and provided a ram as a substitute for the boy.oxrhjuq-lp

The theological implications of this scene could (and does) fill hundreds of volumes of scholarly discussion. Since we are looking at this through the lens of the Christmas story, I thought we might focus on these verses today:

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (22:15-18)

The entire story of Abraham is centered around the birth of Isaac, for Isaac was the key to God’s covenant relationship with Abraham, the Son of Promise. The Hebrews author tells us that Abraham’s faith was so strong by that time that he was thinking God would simply raise him from the dead if he had been sacrificed, and I’ll take his word on that. Yet Isaac, as critical a player as he was, was not the Son who would die for our sins and be raised again from the grave… but this story sure points us in that direction!

In this case, God provided the sacrifice in Isaac’s place, and in the case of the Son of God, God provided the sacrifice in our place; amazing.

The faith and obedience, yes obedience, that Abraham displayed in this scene resulted in God’s restatement of His promises to Abraham, a sort of confirmation of their covenant. Perhaps this took place because of Abraham’s lapses during the course of their relationship, or perhaps it was to instruct the generations that would follow; I don’t know. What I do know is that Abraham, as a model of faith for all of us, sets the bar very high in this scene, and I doubt strongly that any one of us could meet his standard; I know I wouldn’t.

Thankfully, God has already provided the last sacrifice for sins.

It would be easy for me to say here that we need more faith, and I would imagine everyone would agree with that. Yet it would also be a bit absurd, for faith isn’t the kind of thing you just pick up at the store, or force upon yourself. Faith is the natural outgrowth of relationship, in this case that would be relationship with our Lord and with others who follow Him; it is a lifelong pursuit and all of us are works in progress.

I suppose we could call it a journey; it certainly was a journey for Father Abraham.

Where will our journey take us in the weeks that lie ahead? That’s the real question.

 

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Christian Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Father Abraham: The Ultimate Test

  1. Pete says:

    It is amazing to see the faith of Abraham in this story after he failed so miserably at other times. It’s a great picture of God’s mercy to me. I can make mistakes, and He will forgive me and allow my faith to grow from them. What an awesome God we serve!

  2. paulfg says:

    But this I only noticed clicking your link:

    “3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded 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.””

    On the THIRD DAY … I am also guessing that Abraham was dead inside for those three days – faith or no faith. And on the third day after his hand was stayed – Abraham must have “risen from the dead (inside)”. Whatever your preferred take – wow!!

  3. Mel Wild says:

    “Yet it would also be a bit absurd, for faith isn’t the kind of thing you just pick up at the store, or force upon yourself. Faith is the natural outgrowth of relationship, in this case that would be relationship with our Lord and with others who follow Him; it is a lifelong pursuit and all of us are works in progress.”

    Loved this. “Faith is an outgrowth of relationship.” Perfectly said.

  4. Tom says:

    Faith is just believing God. It is a very simple concept. The problem is we make it difficult by not fully believing God. Jesus said faith the size of a tiny mustard seed would move a mountain. Why won’t we just believe God as Abraham did?

  5. Meredith says:

    I enjoy & learn from the cooments as well as the lesson.

  6. Pingback: Father Abraham: The Ultimate Test | The Life Project | franciscansonthemountains

  7. Yet it would also be a bit absurd, for faith isn’t the kind of thing you just pick up at the store, or force upon yourself. Faith is the natural outgrowth of relationship, in this case that would be relationship with our Lord and with others who follow Him; it is a lifelong pursuit and all of us are works in progress.

    You summed up Romans 1:17 perfectly. “For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. For as it is written, the just shall live by faith.”

    Faith is like a building blocks. We have all been given the same amount of building blocks, but it is up to us to build them up through His Word.

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