1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, Abraham!
Here I am, he replied.
2 Then God said, Take your son, your only son, whom you love Isaac and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you. (Genesis 22:1-2)
We are all familiar with God’s test of Abraham. God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac, the future of the chosen people, as a burnt offering. Why would God do this? There are several secondary questions to be raised here. Two fundamental ones are:
First, God had already stated that the future of the chosen people would be through Isaac. God must have known that He would not allow Abraham to kill Isaac on the altar. So why put Him to the test?
Second, if God is all-knowing, didn’t He already know the heart of Abraham?
|“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12)|
So, just what was being tested here and what does it mean to be tested?
One reason is that it is through trails of our faith that we grow, not only in our strength, but also in our ability to handle adversity. We see this in so many ways. Thomas Edison said that “Invention is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” When success in life comes too easily to us, we take things for granted. Furthermore, we are not pressed to our limits in terms of our capacity to accomplish. So it is in our service to God. It is through adversity, testing, that we sift the chaff out of our lives, focusing on what is important. How often did Jesus do this with Peter, the Rock? Impetuous, loyal Peter. Peter had no more than declared his undying love for Jesus than Jesus said to him “Stand behind me Satan.” Peter cut off the ear of the Roman soldier and Jesus both healed the soldier and reprimanded Peter. Could Peter have stood on the steps of the Temple on Pentecost had he not denied Jesus? Peter was strengthened by his failures, his pride, his self-centeredness.
Another reason for testing is to see just where we stand in terms of our growth. As we progress in our education, we are continually tested. Remember all those math and spelling tests? They weren’t punishments or tests of strength. They were checkpoints on our progress. Where do we stand in terms of our knowledge and capabilities? Are we ready to move higher, or do we need to go back and build ourselves?
The obedience of Issac was also being tested in this story. Would he obey his father? The Bible does not say how Issac reacted. Did Abraham have to subdue him, or did he go to the altar willingly? We don’t know from Genesis 22:9. The Bible does not say that Isaac returned to Bathsheba with Abraham and the servants. Jewish legend says that he was brought to heaven by God for a period of three years. Evidently, whatever was being tested in Isaac, he passed the test.
In the Book of Job, satan is allowed to test the faith of Job. Job maintains his faith in God, although at high cost to him and to his family. Had satan gone to God’s council with the same sort of challenged he did regarding Abraham’s faith? Perhaps.
Many of the trials we face in life are not of God’s making, but our own or the work of satan. Recently I was talking with a man who has lung cancer. He was mad at God for giving it to him. Yes, he knew that years of heavy smoking were probably the cause, but he still blamed God. Was this a test of God’s making?
So, being tested is not necessarily a bad thing. Just like our tests in school, tests can strengthen us for what lies ahead and for even greater works. They can also be a check-up on just where we are in our journey with Christ Jesus.
Alive in The Word