D.) The Testing ... (Genesis 22)
Tests of the LORD
Waiting for Gods timing is one hard thing to do. Waiting for something to happen tests both the importance of what God has said as well as our belief that God will fulfill His Word. Genesis 22 leaps beyond this kind of testing, though, with another kind of test, the test of sacrifice.
The 'timing test' tried Abraham on endurance and suffering. Many years he had to go without. This test to sacrifice his only son Isaac, however, tested his belief in the impossible as well as Gods determination to accomplish what He would. Abraham was asked to give up every glimmer of hope to fulfill the things that he waited for throughout his whole life.
No matter how much Abraham has prospered, the test is about who he would pass it down to. By offering up Isaac to God, Abraham was willing to sacrifice all that he had or dreamed of. He cared less for his dreams than obedience to what God wanted.
Morality of Sacrifices
Some ask about the morality of asking a father to kill his child. The issue is not easy to resolve unless one takes God's perspective. Let's first ask if it was immoral to offer up Jesus Christ on the cross? If it was immoral, then God is not holy. He has done something that violates His person.
Since He is holy, we must accept the fact that God can ask others to give up their life by the hand of others, especially when there is a greater purpose involved. This is what we do in war, but this scene is much greater. It is the scene of redemption and salvation. The One who set the laws of the world established what is moral by who He is and what He wills.
Isaac was a strong teenager that was willing to give up his life. We do not read of any sort of physical struggle to have Isaac lie on the altar. By carrying the wood (figure of Christ carry the cross), we know Isaac was at least a young man. It is possible that Abraham knocked him out but the context doesnt lead us to this line of thinking. Instead we see an obedient son laying on the altar when being bound by his father.
This is the perfect picture of Jesus who willingly gave up His life on the cross at His Heavenly Fathers request. Isaac, it seems then, willingly gave up his life at his fathers request just as Jesus did.
Faith grows the quickest through in life's most difficult struggles that God puts before us. The greatest struggle is not to wait for gaining what we hope for (Abraham hoping for a child) but to give up what we have gained (Abraham sacrificing his only son).
Just as Jesus talked about pruning to bear fruit, so God regularly, though most carefully, takes us through testing times. Genesis 22:1 says, "God tested Abraham." The test is a careful arrangement of circumstances so that our faith can grow. Remember that the fruit we bear will be only as good as the plant itself. God is constantly upgrading the plant so that it bears better fruit.
I can think of many times that God has asked me to sacrifice what I have so to test my heart. During a comfortable time in pastoral ministry, the Lord spoke and led me to resign. He was asking me to trust him with the two things that I treasured: a good ministry and comfortable provision financially for my family. Both of these things were gone, but the Lord in the end has worked through those difficult and trying times to bring forth a whole new ministry (BFF).
Go to the assignment. There you will be shown how to deliberately make yourself a living sacrifice. Our hope is that if we willingly give up what we treasure, we will not have to have so many things 'violently' seized from us. God will test your heart to find what is really in it. What is in your heart? Do you love God with all your heart, soul and mind?
Genesis Introduction: Introduction to Genesis | Outline and Genealogies | Genesis' Chronologies (5 & 11) | Unified Themes of Genesis