Genesis 22 has always been one of the most intriguing chapters in the Bible for me. In the text leading up to this story, God has been working in the life of Abraham, affirming His covenant, miraculously giving Abraham a son in his old age, and interacting with him in a marvelous way.
Then, quite unexpectedly, God gives him the command to take his only son, Isaac to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering unto the Lord. This account gives us many lessons that we may learn concerning our walk with God.
First, God may test our faith. Faith could be compared to a muscle. If it is never exercised, it will never grow. Were God to remove all of the obstacles from our way, we would never have the opportunity to grow and learn. While these trials are not pleasant, it is important to remember that they are very beneficial. Peter describes them as a “fiery trial”, but the result is faith that is purified as fine gold. In the middle of these testings, priorities and values can become distinctly clear.
Second, our love for God motivates our faith. God commanded Abraham to take his only son “whom thou lovest”. This is the first time the word “love” is used in the Bible, and it is used to describe the feelings a father has toward his son. We could compare this to Matthew 3:17 where God spoke from heaven, calling Jesus His “beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. The trial of our faith will reveal to us how much we love God and therefore how far we are willing to trust Him. God, in essence, was saying to Abraham, “I know you love Isaac, but I want you to love me more”. Is not this the same love that God demonstrated toward us in giving His only Son for our redemption?
We love Him because He first loved us.
Finally, the magnitude of our test reveals God’s evaluation of our faith. We know from I Corinthians 10:13, that God will not allow us to be tempted above that we are able to withstand. The thing we must always remember is that God does not test us so that HE can learn about our faith. God’s testings, though, reveal much to us about our faith. If God will not tempt us beyond our faith, then the size of the test can reveal to us what God knows we can overcome. This should never cause us to become proud about our testings, but it does give us hope when we are facing them.
Each of us will face multiple tests of our faith during our life. Few, if any of us, will ever be given one as drastic as Abraham’s. Yet even if we are, we can know that the God of Abraham is still sovereign in our lives today. The same God who guided a ram into a thicket on Mt. Moriah is going before you on the mountain you will climb.
Accept the test of faith. Climb that mountain. Build that altar. You will find that God is already there.