ABRAHAM AND ISAAC TRUST GOD
The story of Abraham and Isaac is an unusual one. We understand its significance, but we may struggle with the request. Sacrificing your son to God on an altar seems contrary to all we know about God. So what can we learn about God that we have not known previously?
Isaac was the “son of the covenant.” We know how important he is as he will be the one who facilitates Abraham’s legacy of descendants. To sacrifice him seems counterproductive. Surely, Abraham saw that, yet he moves forward in complete obedience.
We may be able to see what Abraham learns from this test, but does God benefit?
We may be able to see what Abraham learns from this test, but does God benefit? He does. Look at verse 12. “And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
I remember one Friday evening settling into the Sabbath, when the door opened and in walked my oldest daughter. She was away at college, and “just because,” she traveled the 500-plus miles to surprise me and my husband. While I’m glad I didn’t know she was on the road all day, it is something I’ll always remember. It was evidence of her love for us.
Knowing that we are loved is different than the actions that evidence it.
God already knows what will happen. This “test” of Abraham, in God’s eyes, was already accomplished. God knew that Abraham would obey. So why ask? Because knowing that we are loved is different than the actions that evidence it. I already knew my daughter loved me. There was no doubt there. But her decision to drive all day for about 36 hours of family time spoke of her love for us, her family.
God benefited from Abraham’s actions. Abraham trusted God. He loved God. He believed in God’s promises. But it wasn’t just head or heart knowledge, it was active. Abraham’s gathering the wood, the fire, the knife, and traveling for three days to a remote location to sacrifice his beloved son showed his “fear” of the Lord. It was active belief, trust, and love.
God loves us just as he loved Abraham.
God loves us just as He loved Abraham. He also knows our hearts. Even though we have accepted His gift of salvation, even if He is the one we worship and adore, we still need to demonstrate our love. Prayer. Praise. Testimony. Intentionally loving God. It’s how we are renewed.
In Genesis 22:1, the Hebrew word used for God is Elohim. If literally translated, it can mean “the God” or even “the gods.” This is not typical for the author of Genesis. Normally one sees the name Yahweh or El Shaddai. One possible explanation is that the reader needs to look back to the last name of God used to identify which God is speaking. Thus, the reader reads, “the God,” and asks, “which God?”
We don’t have to go back far to find out. Genesis 21:33 reveals which God. Abraham “called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” The Hebrew word here can also mean “perpetual,” “evermore,” or “always.” This God is one that offers constancy, stability, and security.
If we review where Abraham has been prior to the beginning of Genesis 22, it fits. He’s faced the difficult situation with Hagar and Ishmael, the destruction of Sodom, the arrival of another son, and the settling into Beersheba. After years of turmoil, unrest, and challenges, Abraham can rest. Isaac is maturing into a fine son, Sarah is happy, and all is well. The “God of Always“ is fully present.
Of course, after Gen. 22:1, comes the test—one that undoes everything. Just as Abraham thought he could sit back and relax; he’s faced with the most difficult circumstance yet. But experience with the Everlasting God, the Perpetual God, the Enduring God, gives him peace and courage to obey.
When all is finished and the ram in the thicket has been sacrificed in Isaac’s place, Abraham calls the place, “The Lord will Provide.” How fitting. The “Everlasting God” is also the “God who delivers”.
Making it Real
What kind of test might God ask of you that would be difficult? Think about the reasons it would be painful to obey. What scriptures can you find that would help make surrendering easier?
Respond & Share
Should we expect that walking with God also means a life with no challenges? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.
Second Quarter begins next week!