What emotions does this story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac elicit in your heart? Sometimes the things we read in the Bible cause us to feel anger toward God. Why would He do such an outrageous thing just to test Abraham’s faith? The trials and testing in our lives and in the lives of our family and friends can raise similar questions and struggles in our hearts toward God. We often try to rewrite the story. We think: surely Genesis 22 is not completely accurate; God would never put someone in that position. But He did! Abraham reasoned that God would resurrect his son to preserve Abraham’s heritage. Even still, it must have been an agonizing trial for Abraham and Isaac to endure.
Why would God do this? First, let me say that He does not call everyone to this type of test. These were men and women called to become leaders and examples. These pillars inspire us to trust God through the difficulties of life. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). We realize that this act of sacrifice was a prophetic act foretelling God’s sacrifice of His only Son so that we might have eternal life.
Although God would not likely call you to emulate Abraham’s experience, He places this story in Hebrews 11 as an example of the kind of faith to which He is calling us. It is a sacrificial faith. It is one that trusts God even when we cannot understand how He can possibly work out a solution to the problem. It is one that is willing to endure deep pain and yet still trust God’s will. It is one that puts God’s will above our own desires. I love how Abraham concludes the story: “He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord Will Provide’” (Genesis 22:13).
As difficult a trial as you or your loved ones may be going through, if we persevere and continue to obey the Lord, He will provide. In the end, God showered abundant blessings on Abraham. Trusting God to provide through the difficult trials of life is what worship is really about. The sacrifice of obeying God’s will even when it is painfully difficult to do so is an act of worship. Obeying whatever God asks of us and trusting Him to provide, even when it seems that this sacrifice may result in great loss, is an act of worship. Our prayers in the midst of these trials are sweet incense on the altar of God (see Revelation 8:3-4). “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). This is exactly what Abraham did by offering his son. What is God calling you to offer up to Him?
Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 8:3-4; Romans 12:1