What happens when God is testing us? God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, his own flesh and blood.
Read the full story of God testing Abraham here (Genesis Chapter 22).
God tests His people sometimes. This is not to make us fall and struggle, but to allow us to experience our own limited human conditions, our need for God and the power of God.
“Go up to the land of Moriah, take your beloved son and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.”
What a cruel thing God has asked Abraham to do! What kind of God would ask (even if it's just a test) a person to kill his own son?! God surely knew the outcome of the event. What's the point of the test? Why would God want Abraham to go through such experience? For any parent this would be the most impossible thing to do.
However, by now Abraham had learned to obey the voice of God, and to trust him even when he couldn’t fully understand God's plan. He knew that God would be faithful to his promises for the boy. So Abraham cut wood for the sacrifice and put it on his son's shoulders to carry up to the mountain for the sacrifice.
“Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Imagine the tension! Abraham's son asked, "Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
Abraham answered, "God will provide a lamb for the sacrifice."
When they arrived, Abraham built an altar, placed the wood on it, bind his son and placed him on top of the wood. The son submitted himself to his father just as Abraham himself was obedient to the Lord. Abraham then lifted up his knife!
If the Lord asks me to do something that seems very unusual, do I know God well enough to respond in obedience and trust?
At this very moment the angel of the Lord called Abraham to stop, “Now I know that you fear God, because you did not withhold your son.”
Abraham saw a ram caught by the horns in the bush.
He took this ram and substituted it for his son on the altar. God provided!
This event had a lot of significance not only for Abraham, but for all of God's people.
What was Abraham's true blessing?
God's request was the ultimate test - a test of which his ultimate blessing was: His heritage? Or God Himself? The event placed Abraham's heart on God rather than on his own child as his master and the source of salvation. What does your heart's ultimate desire rest upon today? God's blessings or God Himself? Why is this distinction important?
Abraham's trust and obedience
How did Abraham know God would provide? Do you think he really believed in it when he said it? Abraham had already been 'harshly' tested while he waited for a son with Sarah. This was the blessing that defined who he was. And he had no time for another son. But Abraham obeyed, though one can only guess at his internal struggle. He trusted that the Lord who gave him his son through a miracle, would also be able to keep His promise.
God will provide
Abraham called this mountain ‘the Lord will provide’. The ‘burnt offering’ is the sacrifice that signifies a total surrender to God, which provides atonement for the sin of mankind. The Lord provided a ram for this to become the substitute. Only God can provide, and He does.
The son was spared
What could be in the son's mind as he noticed there really was no lamb? Imagine yourself being bound and put on the wood on the altar by your father. He even carried the wood on his back up the mountain! Hecould become the blessing because he was spared and a ram was sacrificed in his place. God provided the ram. Why do you think this unique experience is so important for him?
The location of this is Moriah, which we know today as Jerusalem. Each part of this incident is a sign pointing to a future event where the Lord will provide a lamb, a precious son, a ‘once for all’ payment for the sins of mankind.
God's promise with Abraham passes down to us today and we are invited to be a part of God’s family, to enjoy his blessing and be ourselves a blessing to all peoples. All this is possible because of the promised Seed of the woman, the lamb who will one day be offered on
this mountain as a sacrifice for our sins, through death and resurrection, taking on itself God’s judgment and bringing people to an everlasting relationship with God.
1. What have you learned about sacrifice and why it is so important?
2. What does God reveal about Himself and His relationship with His people in this reading?
3. Is God speaking to you? How would you respond to God?
4. Who can you share this story with?