“Abraham, Abraham!” … “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” — Genesis 22:11b-12 (NKJ)
One of my favorite stories of the Bible is recorded in Genesis 22 where Abraham’s faith is totally tested by God. God commands him to offer up his only son, Isaac, as a human sacrifice.
Whenever I read about this historical event, I picture the scene in my mind … Abraham stands over his son, distraught in anguish, as sweat pours from his brow. For a moment he turns away to gain composure, then clinches his teeth and lifts the knife high into the air, pausing just long enough to secure control of his quivering hand. Suddenly, he hears a voice from heaven say, “Abraham, don’t touch him!” (my paraphrase).
Instantly, tension melts into relief as he drops the knife and burst into tears of joy. I can almost hear the clang of the knife’s blade as it falls against rocks. Abraham scoops his boy into his arms and kisses his face repeatedly. Under his breath, he praises the Lord, “Thank You, God. Thank You.”
God’s command, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and…sacrifice him,” must have pierced Abraham’s ever-faithful heart. Sometimes it feels as if God pierces my faithful heart, too. Perhaps you’re feeling pierced today and battling to maintain your hope in God.
Let’s face it, when everything seems to be against us it hurts, especially when we’ve been faithful.
- It hurts when you’ve been a good spouse, but the divorce papers appear anyway.
- It hurts when you’ve sacrificed for your friend only to be rejected in your time of need.
- It hurts when you deserve the promotion only to discover it went to someone younger.
- It hurts when you diligently save only to lose your lifelong savings in the stock market.
- It hurts when you’ve raised your teenager in church and he walks away from God.
Sometimes I want to scream, “I can’t sacrifice anymore, Lord!”
It’s when I reach the end of self-effort that I realize what God is after—my undivided heart.
The same was true with Abraham. God never wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son. He wanted Abraham’s trust and his surrendered heart. It’s what the Lord longs from you and me, too. He wants us to trust Him no matter our situation.
So, where did Abraham get that kind of trust? He got it from God’s promise. Before Isaac was born, God promised Abraham that countless descendants would come through his son. If Abraham were to eliminate Isaac, God would still fulfill His promise. According to Hebrews 11:19, Abraham believed if he killed his son, God would raise him from the dead. Notice Abraham’s faith when he said, “I and the boy [will] go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5).
Abraham not only took God at His word, he fully trusted Him with the situation. You and I would do well to do the same. The Bible is full of God’s promises to provide for us in times of sorrow, hardship, weakness, and fear. Standing on His promises during adversity gives us the support we need until our troubles pass.
Dear Lord, teach me Your promises. Help me to hide them in my heart so that they may become the support and help You intend them to be in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.