Faith and Trials

Gen 22:8  “Abraham answered (Isaac), “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.”

Meditation

Why did God ask Abraham to perform a human sacrifice.  God condemned the practice of human sacrifice when pagans performed it (Lev 20:1-5).  Asking whether God condones human sacrifice is the wrong question. He does not. It is short-sighted to suggest that this was God’s intent. Based on previous faith challenges, God was pushing Abraham to deeper faith. God was (and is) supremely important; more important than Isaac. Obviously, this was God’s purpose, God’s test and God’s timing.  Increasingly difficult steps of faith had prepared Abraham for this test of his faith.  This was not Abram’s first rodeo!

From this, we gain insight into Abraham’s faith and perspective.  Abraham believed God when He said, “I am your shield and great reward.”(Gen 15:1).  Abram had previously trusted God during months and miles in his nomadic travel to Canaan. Abram had previously trusted God when, in unfair selfishness, Lot chose the best Canaan lands. Abram had previously trusted God to provide a son and a nation through a 25yrs wait.  Abram had previously trusted God’s protection when he defeated four kings to rescue Lot.  Abram spoke with the pre-incarnate Jesus.  Abram had previously spoken to angels.  Abram had previously bartered with God for faithful followers inside Sodom.  Abram had previously trusted God through the tithe given to Melchizedek while discerning strings attached to Sodom’s King reward. In the context of the request to sacrifice Isaac, scripture states that Abram responded that God would provide the sacrifice. We can suppose that Abram’s relationship with God was so strong that he believed God would 1) replace Isaac’s sacrifice or 2) that God would resurrect Isaac.  Although Abram was told to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham responded that God, himself, would provide the sacrifice. One way or another, God would provide Abraham’s sacrifice.  As with each prior faith challenge and the faith that he had gained, Abraham could trust God (again).

Application

Trials produce growth.  Exercised muscles get stronger.  God does not test us beyond what we can manage (1Cor 10:13).  However, as we can all attest, he certainly know the limits of our capabilities!

Next Steps

Jas 1:2-4   “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”  (The Message)